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Tag: Justice Department

Whistleblowers Accuse High-Ranking DOJ Official of Injecting Politics into Hiring

By Steve Neavling

Two whistleblowers have accused a high-ranking Justice Department official of injecting politics into the hiring process by appointing an inexperienced attorney over more qualified candidates. 

Jeffrey Bossert Clark was acting assistant attorney general in charge of the department’s Civil Division when he conducted a bogus interview process for the assistant director position of the Civil Division, the whistleblowers alleged in documents obtained by NPR.

The whistleblowers are calling for an investigation in a letter to House and Senate lawmakers and the DOJ’s inspector general. 

The appointment came just days before Clark left the post in January. 

The five-page letter states that Clark appointed an attorney who “volunteered and was part of the DOJ litigation team defending a controversial Trump administration policy … that barred pregnant, unaccompanied minors in federal immigration custody from obtaining abortions.”

In an email to CNN, Clark defended the appointment. 

“Civil Division managers sent me three candidates to interview, each of whom they rated well-qualified. I interviewed all three using the same process I had used for other positions. I think it’s very unfortunate that the disappointed applicants would attack their own colleague’s selection,” he said. “That candidate had strong leadership qualities and was the best qualified. Pointing to that lawyer’s work on the Garza litigation, with a D.C. Circuit decision that came out years befoe I joined the Civil Division, is just a baseless attempt to cast aspersions.”

Committee to Vote Today on Advancing Merrick Garland for AG Confirmation

Judge Merrick Garland, via White House.

By Steve Neavling

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote today on advancing Merrick Garland, President Biden’s pick for attorney general, to the full Senate for confirmation. 

Garland has bipartisan support and is expected to receive the committee’s approval for a full Senate vote. 

Garland testified before the committee last week during a two-day confirmation hearing. 

Garland, 68, rose to national prominence in 2016 when President Obama nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Republicans denied him a hearing. 

Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. 

Garland is a graduate of Harvard University’s college and law school.  

FBI, DOJ Investigating How Gov. Cuomo’s Admin Handled Nursing Home Deaths

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo via City of New York.

By Steve Neavling

The FBI and Justice Department have launched an investigation into how New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration handled nursing home residents who were infected with COVID-19 in the early stages of the pandemic.

Federal authorities are investigating whether Cuomo’s coronavirus task force manipulated data to downplay deaths in nursing homes, The Times Union of Albany first reported.

“As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months,” Richard Azzopardi, spokesman for the governor, said. 

It wasn’t immediately clear whether any task force members have been interviewed yet. 

Cuomo had come under fierce criticism after requiring nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to accept people who had tested positive for COVID-19 and were in the hospital. The directive was later rescinded. 

The Cuomo administration previously reported 8,500 nursing home coronavirus-related deaths, but the true toll was closer 15,000. 

Biden Administration Plans to Remove Most of Trump’s U.S. Attorneys

court

By Steve Neavling

The Biden administration plans to soon remove nearly all of the U.S. attorneys appointed by President Trump, but will allow a couple of federal prosecutors to stay on so they can continue working on highly sensitive investigations.

One of the prosecutors who will remain is U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who is overseeing the investigation into President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden, The Washington Post reports. The other prosecutor is Michael R. Sherwin, who is handling the insurrection-related prosecutions.  

Trump made a similar purge during his first year as president. 

Some Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys have already stepped down or have announced they are planning to resign. 

Biden may begin asking dozens of federal prosecutors to resign as early as Tuesday. 

DOJ’s IG Investigating Whether Department Tried to Overturn Election

Inspector General Michael Horowitz testifying before Senate Judiciary Committee.

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department’s inspector general said Monday he’s launching an investigation into whether any department officials “engaged in an improper attempt” to overturn the presidential election. 

The announcement follows news reports that former President Trump tried to get department officials to challenge election results.

“The inspector general is initiating an investigation into whether any former or current D.O.J. official engaged in an improper attempt to have D.O.J. seek to alter the outcome of the 2020 presidential election,” IG Michael Horowitz said in a statement, The New York Times reports

Before resigning in December, then-Attorney General William Barr said there was no evidence of widespread election fraud, contradicting Trump’s repeated and false assertions that the election was stolen from him.

Biden to Nominate Merrick Garland as Attorney General

Judge Merrick Garland, via White House.

By Steve Neavling

President-elect Joe Biden plans to nominate Merrick B. Garland, a widely respected federal judge, as attorney general.

Garland, 68, rose to national prominence in 2016 when President Obama nominated him to the U.S. Supreme Court, but Republicans denied him a hearing. 

With Democrats poised to take control of the U.S. Senate, Republican won’t be able to block his nomination to serve as attorney general.  

Garland was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in 1997. 

Garland is a graduate of Harvard University’s college and law school. 

DOJ to Announce New Charges in Connection with 1988 Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103

Crashed Pan Am Flight 103/Wikipedia.

By Steve Neavling

The Justice Department is expected to announce new criminal charges Monday against a former Libyan intelligence officer in connection with the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

U.S. authorities are speaking with Libyan official to take Abu Agila Masud, an alleged bombmaker, into custody, CNN reports.

Today marks the 32nd anniversary of the attack, which killed 270 people, most of whom were Americans, who were aboard a Pan Am Boeing 747 that was traveling from London to New York.  

The case is significant to Attorney General William Barr, who was attorney general in the 1990s when the U.S. first charged two Libyan men in the bombing. 

Barr spoke of the case at a memorial for the victims in 2019. 

“I must say that, to this day, I am not satisfied with our country’s overall response to the attack. I never thought that putting two Libyan intelligence officers on trial should be the sum and substance of our response,” Barr said at the Arlington Cemetery ceremony last year.

Judge Dismisses Flynn’s Case, But Was Not Happy About It

Former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn

By Steve Neavling

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the three-year-old criminal case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, following  Trump’s pardon last month. 

But U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan took a parting shot, saying the pardon doesn’t make Flynn innocent, The Washington Post reports.

“President Trump’s decision to pardon Mr. Flynn is a political decision, not a legal one,” Sullivan wrote. “Because the law recognizes the President’s political power to pardon, the appropriate course is to dismiss this case as moot.”

“However,” Sullivan added, “the pardon ‘does not, standing alone, render [Flynn] innocent of the alleged violation.’ ”

Flynn was the target of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia. But he later fired his attorneys and asked to withdraw his guilty plea, claiming he was entrapped by the FBI and Justice Department.

Sullivan also said he “likely” would have rejected the Justice Department’s efforts to dismiss the case, saying the federal government’s intervention was “dubious to say the least.”

Trump celebrated the dismissal on Twitter. 

“Thank you and congratulations to General Flynn,” Trump tweeted. “He and his incredible family have suffered greatly!”

Flynn responded, “You and your family & our entire nation have suffered greatly and it has to stop. The American people deserve far greater respect from the institutions of our own Government and the Media!”