The Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law has concluded its hearing: “The Continuing Investigation into the U.S. Attorneys Controversy.” Former deputy attorney general James Comey testified, and in an exchange with Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-04) explained what would be at stake if hirings inside the Department of Justice were revealed as political:
“If that was going on, that strikes at the core of what the Department of Justice is. You just cannot do that, you can’t hire assistant US Attorneys based on political affilation, because it depreives the Department of its lifeblood, which is the ability to stand up and have juries of all stripes believe what you say, and have sheriffs and judges and jailers and the poeple we deal with trust the Department of Justice.”
Justice Probes Hiring of Prosecutors
Lara Jakes Jordan, Associated Press – May 3, 2007
The Justice Department is investigating whether its former White House liaison used political affiliations in deciding whom to hire as entry-level prosecutors in some U.S. attorney offices around the country, The Associated Press has learned.
Such consideration would be a violation of federal law.
The inquiry involving Monica Goodling, a conservative Republican who recently quit as counsel and White House liaison for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, raises new concerns that politics have cast a shadow over the independence of trial prosecutors who enforce U.S. laws.
Justice spokesman Dean Boyd confirmed Wednesday that the department’s inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility have been investigating for several weeks Goodling’s role in hiring career attorneys _ an unusual responsibility for her to have had.
Investigators are trying to determine whether Goodling “may have taken prohibited considerations into account during such review,” Boyd told the AP. “Whether or not the allegation is true is currently the subject of the OIG/OPR investigation.”
Three government officials with knowledge of the investigation said Goodling appears to have sought information about party affiliation while vetting applicants for assistant U.S. attorneys’ jobs. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.