Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsPress: For Trump endorsement: The more sordid, the better Those predicting Facebook's demise are blowing smoke If bitcoin is 'digital gold,' it should be taxed like gold MORE recently signaled a special prosecutor might soon probe the Obama-era Department of Justice. Obama appointees transformed Justice into a 19th-Century political machine that coerced, bullied, and eschewed law for the altar of partisan politics. Shedding light on the systemic abuses that marred so many Department priorities and policies would be welcome.
Both Obama AGs’ Loretta Lynch and Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderMichigan Republicans sue over US House district lines State courts become battlegrounds in redistricting fights New Hampshire Republicans advance map with substantially redrawn districts MORE put politics before law. Lynch made news for her tarmac gabfest with Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonPerdue proposes election police force in Georgia To boost economy and midterm outlook, Democrats must pass clean energy bill Could the coming 'red wave' election become a 'red tsunami'? MORE days before the FBI finished its probe of his wife, the Democrat presidential nominee. More recently, Lynch endorsed bloody street clashes to protect American rights. That’s not how it works. The Constitution, interpreted by the Courts, has always determined our rights, even in the Civil Rights era. Power through street brawls is the stuff of left-wing romanticism.
Lynch’s activism didn’t just appear when she left office, but it pales to her predecessor. Eric Holder proudly portrayed himself as Obama’s strong man. In an “unprecedented” crackdown on leakers, he surveilled journalists and seized phone records. He directed partisan prosecutions, and famously ignored Congressional oversight.
Holder’s DOJ “leadership” earned him a Congressional contempt charge but praise from his boss. It also set the Department’s new ethos: rules don’t matter, progressive politics does.
Subordinates got the message, nowhere more than Texas. Civil Rights Division attorneys and local offices habitually acted unethically and unprofessionally while fighting the Lone Star State. One Texas federal judge was so shocked by federal lawyers’ repeated lies he ordered a blistering five-part remedy that would supervise ethics training for hundreds of Justice lawyers. He eventually withdrew much of the sanction but still called the government’s behavior “nothing short of stunning.” He further noted the 132 ethical violations DOJ has admitted just in the past four years would leave a private firm “deeply ashamed, out of business or both.”
DOJ conduct similarly appalled a different judge in a redistricting case. He stated DOJ entered the case with “arrogance and condescension.” The eye-rolling, bubble-gum chewing attorneys, he believed, viewed Texas’ arguments as unworthy and its lawyers as “a bunch of backwoods hayseed bigots who bemoan the abolition of the poll tax and pine for the days of literacy tests and lynchings.”
DOJ’s interest in Texas wasn’t random. Turning the red-state behemoth blue would ensure Democrat national political domination. When a 2013 Supreme Court case removed federal supervision of Texas’ election laws, Holder spared no taxpayer expense to get the state back under his thumb. DOJ has spent years and untold loot for this nakedly political goal.
And it’s just part of the story. DOJ also circumvented Citizens United, another Supreme Court case Democrats despised. The Tea Party scandal — a direct result of the ruling — broke at the IRS but Justice played its part. Just before the 2010 midterms, Lois Lerner gave DOJ confidential donor information from conservative nonprofits without a court order. The only purpose for this illegal transfer was potential dirt on the president’s enemies, although no one acted before the scandal broke.
Elsewhere DOJ shook down corporations to fund their nonprofit allies. Instead of the Treasury getting settlement money, DOJ asked corporate wrongdoers to “voluntarily” provide massive checks to their friends without covenants on how they spent the money. So far, this program has robbed the American taxpayer of at least $3 billion. In turn, these nonprofits support DOJ litigation and media efforts and provide fertile ground for future hires.
And the beat goes on. AGs set the activist agenda and example by flaunting the law, subordinates work the trenches in partisan litigation while belittling adversaries, officials ignore the Supreme Court, and Justice strong arms corporations to fund outside allies, then hires them.
Congressional Democrats cover the charade branding any oversight as witch-hunts or racism. Political appointees wait out the Republican administration by “burrowing” into the civil service, returning to the nonprofits, or just ending the pretense. It’s no coincidence the DNC chief formerly led DOJ’s Civil Rights Division.
Problems at Justice didn’t begin with Obama. Both Clinton and Bush had issues. But the Obama DOJ professionalized lawlessness to an unseen degree. The Department’s politicization under Lynch and especially Holder is dark stain on Justice’s storied history. A special prosecutor could begin to restore confidence in this important institution.
Paul Jossey is a campaign finance lawyer in Alexandria, Virginia. Follow him on Twitter at @paulhjossey.
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