The House Judiciary Committee today requested that presidential adviser Karl Rove appear to testify "concerning the troubling issue of the politicization of the Department of Justice during this Administration." It also released a report (PDF/323kb), "Allegations of Selective Prosecution in Our Federal Criminal Justice System," that talks in detail about the stringent prosecution of attorney Paul Minor and Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, raising concerns that the prosecutions might have been a way for Republicans to weaken Democrats in Mississippi. Minor was convicted and is serving time in federal prison; Diaz was acquitted.
Jackson Free Press reporter Adam Lynch's Nov. 7, 2007, story, "Dem At Your Own Risk," is referenced in the report, quoting his interview with U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton:
"There are other things I am aware of regarding Justice Diaz that caused me to refrain from commenting further on [the weakness of the prior cases], but it will come out later, and you'll see. . . . I believe there was sufficient evidence to convict him, but maybe not for what he was charged."
The report quoted a 2007 academic report that found that 80 percent of federal public corruption cases during the Bush administration have involved Democratic office holders, while only 14 percent have involved Republicans. "The study's author concluded that there is 'less than one chance in 10,000' that the over-representation of Democrats occurred by chance."
In the April 17, 2008, letter to Rove (PDF/89kb), Chairman John Conyers and other committee members refers to evidence that he pushed for prosecutions of Democrats like former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman and other prominent Democrats to hurt the other party: "As you know, the Committee has received sworn testimony and reviewed extensive documents raising serious quesitons about actions you or your staff may have taken that brought political considerations to bear on prosecutorial operations of the Department." The committee said that Rove's attorney had agreed that he would testify before Congress, adding, "Given the importance of these issues to the air administration of justice in this country, your appearance to answer these charges is imperative."
The letter to Rove speaks directly of testimony from Alabama Republican attorney Jill Simpson about conversations she overheard that indicated that Rove would contact DOJ and press for the prosecution of Siegelman. The letter reminds Rove that he recently described Simpson as "a complete lunatic" in an interview with GQ Magazine and said that she had never mentioned his name during her Committee deposition. "In fact, Mrs. Simpson actually referenced you several times at deposition," the committee said. It then pointed out that Rove also talks about the issue in his role as commentator on FOX News; thus, "we believe the subject, like other serious charges regarding the role of politics at the Department of Justice, should be addressed before a key investigating Committee of Congress."
The 40-page report discusses various possible selective prosecution cases, including in Alabama, Wisconson, Pennsylvania and, starting on page 26, in Mississippi. In the case of Minor, the committee writes that "Mr. Minor was convicted of what have been described as 'vague' charges based on alleged efforts to obtain an unfair advantage from the two lower court judges, again through loan guarantees, and again despite the fact that Mississippi law allows such guarantees."
The report then quotes David Hampton, which it calls "Editorial Director of the conservative Jackson Clarion Ledger," writing on his blog in September 2007 on the Minor case: "It is my opinion that there was too much of a political smell to this case. The extent the Republican Justice Department went to in going after a wealthy influential Democratic trial lawyer just seemed over the top. I've never anything like it. It was extraordinary. If we could only get that kind of effort from the U.S. attorney on some other serious crimes."
It is noteworthy that The Clarion-Ledger did not raise such vehement concerns during the trial of Minor or leading up to it.
The report also points out the long-time belief of state Democrats that the Bush administration and its allies used such prosecutions to both help drop the funding of Democrats by trial lawyers, and that the indictment of Minor was announced just 90 days before Gov. Ronnie Musgrove's re-election bid, in which challenger Haley Barbour, a Republican operative and lobbyist who had never held public office, was elected—after the specter of Democratic "corruption" was raised. It added about Lampton: "Some have questioned whether U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton who led the prosecution was appropriately impartial, as Justice Diaz had won a large judgment in a lawsuit against a company owned by Mr. Lampton's family."
The report also discusses the fact that Minor was indicted for loan guarantees to judges, while trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs was not. Scruggs, it said, has also supported and given money to Republicans and is the brother-in-law of former Sen. Trent Lott. "Indeed, Senator Lott himself acknowledged speaking to prosecutors about the case, stating that Mr. Scruggs had nothing to worry about regarding an investigation of connections between Mississippi judges and lawyers and that the investigation was focusing on 'a particular judge' and 'a particular lawyer.' Likewise, it has been asserted that other judges on the Mississippi Supreme Court may have had similar loan arrangements to those challenged between Mr. Minor and Justice Diaz, but those more conservative judges were neither investigated nor indicted."
The Committee said that, to date, the DOJ has "largely refused" to cooperate with the House investigation, including giving no response to committee letters to the U.S. attorney general.
"The need for the Department to cooperate with Committee oversight, and for an independent Executive Branch review of the allegations of selective prosecution, remain paramount in order to restore the public's confidence in our federal justice system," it concluded.
Click here (PDF/166kb) and here (PDF/88kb) for two other documents about related cases released by the House Judiciary Committee today.
Those right-sling republicans have taken the country to where few decent people could ever believe was possible. Four more years of Bush or the likes would cause a trainwreck that only God can rectify. Hopefully, they have destroyed themselves permanently. Even decent republicans, the few there are, are wondering what happened to the execution of the principles and policies they thought the party stood for. The answer: all those so-called principles and policies got executed by greed, selfishness, immorality and deception. As Ray Carter would say when you let Chucky, Dumbbo and Killer run the show bad things will surely follow.
Maybe we should have elected Rove as President; at least we would have had a president who'd get things done! Maybe not legal things, but it'd be movement! As it is, you can't trust anyone in DC to even tell you the time correctly.
Congratulations, Adam, on getting quoted in a congressional letter, and it wasn't a citation on profanity. Just kidding.
It's remarkable that in the Bush administration we have political corruption taken to an extreme that mirrors Putin's Russia. In every department--and in Iraq--young, politically zealous true believers were put in charge of using the government to support Republican power. This was DOJ, EPA, the Department of the Interior. They even had the drug czar flying around the country campaigning for Republican candidates on the public dime.
It is some comfort that the Republicans will be crushed in the November elections, but the damage done is hard to even calculate.
Conservatives, in particular, should repudiate this corrupt administration. Bush has done more to discredit your cause than anyone since Nixon. And Nixon was an intellectual by comparison. ("Thanks, your holiness. Awesome speech!")
- Brian C Johnson
Oops: "Feds Raid Office of Special Council," according to a story just posted by the New York Times:
The office of the official responsible for protecting federal workers from political interference was raided by F.B.I. agents on Tuesday as part of an investigation into whether he himself mixed politics with official business.
The raid took place at the office of Scott J. Bloch, the head of the Office of Special Counsel. Computers and documents were seized by agents trying to determine whether Mr. Bloch obstructed justice by hiring an outside company to “scrub” his computer files, The Associated Press reported. Investigators were also said to be obtaining a subpoena to search Mr. Bloch's home.
The Office of Special Counsel gives advice to federal employees on activities that are proper and those that are not allowed under the Hatch Act, which is supposed to guard against direct political interference in governmental affairs. Mr. Bloch's duties including shielding whistle-blowers who disclose such political meddling.
Mr. Bloch was in the news a year ago, when his office began to look into political briefings given to employees of several agencies by aides to Karl Rove, who was then President Bush's chief political adviser. The White House insisted at the time that the briefings met the definitions of allowable activities.