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It sounds like Sen. Pat Leahy isn't too happy about the US Attorney's office's decision not to prosecute Bradley Schlozman for making false statements to Leahy's Judiciary committee.

In a speech on the Senate floor this morning, Leahy left no doubt that he disagrees with the US Attorney's office's decision, and declared: "When somebody deliberately, purposely sets out to subvert the constitution of the United States, and then lies about it, lies about it, Mr. President, I find that a heinous crime."

You can watch the speech here, but here's the entire relevant excerpt:

I really wish that the current U.S. attorney's office appointed by this administration had prosecuted. I think that the only way you stop such blatant criminal violations by people who know better, people who are sworn to uphold the law, (unint.) that they know they'll go to jail for breaking the law. That's what should have been done. And just because they broke the law in the Bush administration and the Bush administration did not, or deemed not to prosecute, I think that raises real questions. Prosecution should be done no matter who breaks the law. I think about one of the people who testified that same investigation and said that, uh, "we swear an oath to President George Bush." I said, "no, you swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. That constitution is the constitution you're sworn to uphold and I'm sworn to uphold and it's the constitution that reflects all Americans."

...

And when somebody deliberately, purposely sets out to subvert the constitution of the United States, and then lies about it, lies about it, Mr. President, I find that a heinous crime. We will see some kid who steals a car, they'll be prosecuted as they probably should. But when you have a key member of the DoJ lie about it under oath, who subverts the consitution of the United States, all the more reason to prosecute that person. Mr. President what Mr. Schlozman did was reprehensible, it was disgusting, it was wrong, goes at the very core of America's principles. The distinguished presiding officer, like me, had the great opportunity to serve as a prosecutor, and I have every reason to believe that he did not show fear of favor when he brought prosecution, as I did, as I did not, I did not show fear of favor, most prosecutors do not. And when you have somebody who is part of the Justice Department lie under oath, and do it in a way to cover up subverting the laws that protect all of us, the civil rights laws protect all of us, white, black, brown, no matter what our race, our creed, it protects all of us. And what has marked this country since the time I was a young lawyer in the sixties, is our adherence to the civil rights laws. You can't go back to a time where they're enforced for some but not for others.

After Carl Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Senate subcommittee on investigations, announced yesterday that he is getting copies of the contracts for companies receiving bailout money under the TARP program, we were thrilled to finally see what terms the government insisted on for taxpayer funds. But this morning in the New York Times, a Levin aide was quoted as saying that his office would not publicly release the contracts. And a Levin spokeswoman told TPMmuckraker the same thing in an email.

What gives, we asked.

And it turns out Levin is asking the same question. When we asked why his office would keep the bailout contracts under wraps, he replied simply: "My instinct would be to release them." He pointed out that legal restrictions might limit the dissemination of the info but said he would consult with his counsel on the matter.

We're still waiting to hear the reason why the contracts can't be made public, if indeed they can't. We'll keep you posted.

On a conference call this morning, Sen. Pat Leahy was asked about his ongoing spat with ranking GOPer Arlen Specter over the nomination of Eric Holder to be Attorney General -- which Leahy supports and Specter has expressed extreme skepticism about.

In response, Leahy upped the rhetoric, saying of Specter:

It may be coincidence that his positions have been those of Karl Rove. I suspect it is coincidence.


Leahy added:
He was a lead supporter in the US Senate of Alberto Gonzales. I disagreed with him on Alberto Gonzales. If he could support Gonzales, who turned out to be a disaster as Attorney General and was eventually forced out by President Bush, I would think that he would be very happy to support Eric Holder.

This might be the most horrifying excerpt from the Schlozman report:

In that incident in August 2004, Voting Section Chief John Tanner sent an e-mail to Schlozman asking Schlozman to bring coffee for him to a meeting both were scheduled to attend. Schlozman replied asking Tanner how he liked his coffee. Tanner's response was, "Mary Frances Berry style - black and bitter." Berry is an African-American who was the Chairperson of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from November 1993 until late 2004. Schlozman forwarded the e-mail chain to several Department officials (including Principal DAAG Bradshaw) but not Acosta, with the comment, "Y'all will appreciate Tanner's response." Acosta said that when he was made aware of the incident, he required Schlozman to make a written apology to him for his role in forwarding the e-mail and that Schlozman did so.


Tanner, as longtime readers will remember, was the guy who left the voting-rights section soon after saying that voter ID laws discriminate against the elderly, and therefore not against African-Americans, because African-Americans die younger.

We've contacted both Berry and Tanner to get their reactions...

Given that the DOJ Inspector General's report found that Bradley Schlozman broke the law in making politicized hiring decisions, and lied about it to Congress, why and how did the US Attorney's office make the decision to decline to bring criminal charges?

We got a bit more information on that question from Patricia Riley, special counsel to the US Attorney for the District of Columbia, which conducted the investigation.

Riley told TPMmuckraker that her office was only asked by the Inspector General's office to look into the possible perjury charges stemming from Schlozman's congressional testimony, rather than the underlying hiring decisions. She said that six career prosecutors, with between 10 and 21 years experience, conducted the investigation, reporting to Assistant US Attorney Channing Phillips (US Attorney Jeffrey Taylor recused himself from the probe).

The investigation continued until last Friday, said Riley, and included interviews with witnesses who were not contacted by the IG's report. Based on that investigation, a decision was made not to bring criminal charges.

Riley declined to say what specific information uncovered in that probe determined the decision.

We also asked the office of Sen. Pat Leahy, when they first learned that the OIG report had found that Schlozman lied to Leahy's committee. A spokeswoman responded in an email:

We received this IG report this morning, shortly in advance of the hearing, as is the usual practice of the IG's office.

Here's another great Schlozman line from the report:

For example, in an e-mail on July 15, 2003, to a former colleague, Schlozman wrote, "I too get to work with mold spores, but here in Civil Rights, we call them Voting Section attorneys."

As part of the same e-mail exchange, on July 16, 2003, Schlozman wrote, "My tentative plans are to gerrymander all of those crazy libs rights out of the section."

In case you were wondering about why the Schlozman report is dated July 2 2008 but was only released today, see this excerpt from page one:

We referred the findings from our investigation to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia in March 2008. We completed this written report of investigation in July 2008.

The U.S. Attorney's Office informed us on January 9, 2009, of its decision to decline prosecution of Schlozman. The Interim U.S. Attorney, Jeffrey Taylor, was recused from the matter and the decision.

We are now releasing our July 2008 report of investigation...


In other words, although the report found that Schlozman broke the law and lied to the Senate about it, he won't face criminal charges.

We've called the US Attorney's office to find out more about that decision.

Here's a voicemail message Schlozman left in February 2006 for a colleague:

[W]hen we start asking about, "what is your commitment to civil rights?" . . . . [H]ow do you prove that? Usually by membership in some crazy liberal organization or by some participation in some crazy cause. . . . Look, look at my résumé - I didn't have any demonstrated commitment, but I care about the issues. So, I mean, I just want to make sure we don't start confining ourselves to, you know, politburo members because they happen to be a member of some, you know, psychopathic left-wing organization designed to overthrow the government.

Peter Carr, a DOJ spokesman, released the following statement in response to the report on politicized hiring:

Today's report describes troubling conduct by a former supervisor in the Civil Rights Division prior to his departure from the Division nearly three years ago. The mission of the Justice Department is the evenhanded application of the Constitution and the laws enacted under it, and that mission has to start with the evenhanded application of the laws within our own Department. As today's report makes clear, Mr. Schlozman deviated from that strict standard.

The Department agrees with the recommendations outlined in the report and has already taken steps to implement them. In addition, the Civil Rights Division has taken additional steps to update its own hiring policies and to increase the role of career employees in its hiring process. As a result of these reforms, and the procedures already in place for evaluating the work and conduct of lawyers throughout the Department, we are confident that the institutional problems identified in today's report no longer exist and will not recur.

Pat Leahy, the chair of the Senate Judiciary committee, just put out the following statement on the DOJ report into politicized hiring:

Today's report confirms some of our worst fears about the Bush administration's political corruption of the Justice Department. Not only did senior Republican appointees violate the law in hiring based on politics in the Civil Rights Division, they also lied about it when called to explain themselves to Congress.

I am particularly disturbed about the findings that a senior Justice Department appointee, Bradley Schlozmann, made false statements under oath when appearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Lying to Congress undermines the very core of our constitutional principles and blunts the American people's right to open and transparent government. Not only did he lie to me and the Committee, but he then refused to cooperate with Justice Department's internal oversight offices' investigation into illegal hiring practices in the Department's Civil Rights Division. The clear determination that he broke the law corrodes our trust in our system of justice and in the nation's top law enforcement agency. His actions in fact undermine the very mission of the Department's Civil Rights Division, which is charged with enforcing federal law prohibiting discrimination.

A strong and independent Civil Rights Division has long been crucial to the enforcement of our precious civil rights laws, and experienced and committed career attorneys have always been the heart and soul of that Division. Contrary to those traditions, however, this report details troubling revelations of political appointees who marginalize and force out career lawyers because of ideology, and, corrupt the hiring process for career positions. It should come as no surprise that the result, and of course the intent, of this political makeover of the Civil Rights Division has been a dismal civil rights enforcement record.

This report is just one of the final chapters in the regrettable legacy of the Bush administration at Main Justice, and it reinforces the need for new leadership. Now more than ever, it is necessary to confirm a new team to lead the Justice Department, starting with Attorney General designee Eric Holder.

TPMLivewire