Steven Senne/AP
U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey

Mukasey Won’t Prosecute Justice Department Officials for Biased Hiring

August 13, 2008 03:46 PM
by Josh Katz
Atty. Gen. Michael Mukasey said he would not attempt to file charges against those implicated in the Justice Department scandal, leaving them essentially unpunished.

30-Second Summary

Mukasey said in a speech to the American Bar Association in New York on Tuesday that “not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime.”

The officials implicated in the hiring scandal are no longer working at the Justice Department, making any other type of punishment difficult.

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, fired back at Mukasey’s remarks: “The attorney general, the nation’s top law enforcement officer, seems intent on insulating this administration from accountability.”

A report unveiled at the end of July was the second of a four-part Department of Justice investigation into its internal hiring practices. The Justice Department released its first report on misconduct within the agency on June 24. That report pointed out the Department’s bias against applicants with liberal ideologies.

The more recent report focused on the illegal work of senior officials, particularly former Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales’s senior counselor, Monica Goodling, and chief of staff Kyle Sampson. They will most likely avoid punishment now.

In one example of misconduct, “An experienced counterterrorism prosecutor … was kept from advancing in favor of a more junior lawyer who lacked a background in terrorism,” because his wife was a notable local Democrat, according to The Carpetbagger Report.

At interviews, Goodling also asked candidates questions like, “What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?” and “Aside from the president, give us an example of someone currently or recently in public service who you admire.”

The report also says that Goodling fired U.S. Attorney Leslie A. Hagen because she believed Hagen was a lesbian.

The scandal dates back to 2006, when Atty. Gen. Gonzales was implicated in the department’s dismissal of U.S. attorneys. He resigned in 2007 after allegedly committing perjury when he testified before Congress about government surveillance programs.

Headline Link: ‘Mukasey won’t pursue charges’

Background: The first report and the firing of U.S. attorneys

Opinion & Analysis: A troublesome policy

Key Player: Monica Goodling

Reference: The Justice Department report


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines