Today’s Must Read

Brad Schlozman, the former Justice Department official who left the Department in August 2007 after he openly admitted to “boasting” about his hiring of conservative Republicans, is the focus of a new turn in the DOJ’s investigation into the 2006 U.S. attorneys firing scandal.

You might remember Schlozman as the head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division-cum-U.S. attorney in Kansas City, and most recently, his work at Main Justice. Schlozman famously talked of replacing Clinton appointees with “good Americans” and keeping tabs on a lawyer who he had heard, “didn’t even vote for Bush.”

The Wall Street Journal reports today that lawyers have filed for a grand jury referral, which could lead to criminal charges, in order to investigate Schlozman’s involvement in improper prosecutions during his time running the DOJ’s civil-rights division in general. The referral appears specifically tied to possible perjury in his 2007 congressional testimony.

The Journal, summarizes Schlozman’s past role in the investigation:

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mr. Schlozman conceded boasting to associates about the number of Republicans he managed to hire at the department. The allegations against him helped feed months of scandal that eventually forced the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in August.

. . . At a Senate hearing last June, Democrats zeroed in on allegations that Mr. Schlozman was part of an effort by Republican political officials to pursue vote-fraud investigations in important swing states as a way to gain electoral advantage.

Mr. Schlozman’s promotion to the U.S. attorney’s office in Kansas City came after the department asked his predecessor, Todd P. Graves, to resign. Mr. Graves was among several U.S. attorneys who had shown reluctance to bring vote-fraud-related cases, according to testimony and documents gathered by Senate investigators last year.

After Mr. Schlozman’s arrival in Kansas City, prosecutors filed charges against workers from a left-leaning activist group, Acorn. The workers eventually pleaded guilty to violations related to voter registration. The timing of the indictment, five days before a close Senate election, drew criticism from Democrats.

Schlozman filed a clarification of his Congresional testimony, in which he had first stated that he was “directed” to pursue the timely prosecution of the voting group by superiors. In his later revision he took “full responsibility” for prosecutorial discretion:

“I want to be clear that, while I relied on the consultation with, and suggestions of, the Election Crimes Branch in bringing the indictments when I did, I take full responsibility for the decision to move forward with the prosecutions related to Acorn while I was the interim U.S. Attorney,” he said in the clarification.

DOJ inspectors are hoping to complete the investigation in the coming weeks:

Separate investigations into the department’s handling of the prosecutor firings and related issues, which are being conducted by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility and the Inspector General, are expected to be completed within the next few weeks, lawyers familiar with the probe said. Both want to abide by department guidelines aimed at clearing up politically sensitive investigations well before the elections, to avoid accusations they could influence the outcome.

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