Schlozman Leaves Justice Dept. Amid Questions

Bradley Schlozman testifies on Capitol Hill in June. i i

hide captionIn June, Schlozman testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Members of the committee are still awaiting his answers to their follow-up questions.

Alex Wong/Getty Images
Bradley Schlozman testifies on Capitol Hill in June.

In June, Schlozman testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Members of the committee are still awaiting his answers to their follow-up questions.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Bradley Schlozman — a Justice Department official under investigation for partisanship in hiring career attorneys — has resigned. But the Senate Judiciary Committee still awaits answers from him regarding his role in hiring lawyers for career positions in the department.

Schlozman testified for three hours before the panel in early June and has yet to answer a list of follow-up written questions.

Thursday, Sen. Patrick Leahy, the Vermont Democrat who heads the committee, wrote Schlozman informing him that he is still obliged to provide those answers, as well as supporting documents and e-mails relevant to his testimony.

At the June hearing, Schlozman acknowledged that he told Republican lawyers applying for career positions to leave their conservative credentials off their resumes — and he conceded that he boasted about hiring a large number of conservative lawyers.

"I probably have made statements like that," he said.

Charges that Schlozman violated the law by politicizing the hiring process when he served in the Justice Department's civil rights division are under investigation now by the department's inspector general.

But much of the June hearing was devoted to Schlozman's tenure as interim U.S. attorney in Missouri. He was appointed to that job in the wake of the firing of Todd Graves, a fellow conservative Republican who had refused to prosecute alleged violations of the law by members of a liberal activist group seeking to register voters.

Schlozman then filed the charges just days before a hotly contested Senate election in Missouri.

"It surprised me," Graves said in June. "It surprised me that they'd been filed that close to an election."

The Justice Department's longstanding guidelines said that, except in extraordinary circumstances, such charges should not be filed close to an election, fearing an impact on the outcome of the voting.

And, indeed, the indictment prompted an immediate news release from the state Republican Party accusing Democrats of trying to "steal the election."

At the hearing, Schlozman testified that he had brought the charges at "the direction of" the Justice Department's Criminal Division.

Sources say, however, that the head of the elections crime branch threatened to publicly contradict Schlozman. Shortly thereafter, Schlozman revised his testimony to say that he had pursued the indictments himself, with approval from the section.

Shortly after Schlozman's testimony, the Justice Department published a new set of guidelines that removed the previous language that had barred most, if not all, voter fraud investigations until an election is over.

Thursday, in a letter to Schlozman, Leahy noted that the Judiciary Committee had submitted written follow-up questions with a June 28 deadline for a response. To date, Leahy observed, Schlozman had not answered the questions.

Moreover, Leahy said that the committee had requested certain documents and e-mails that were relevant to Schlozman's testimony, and they had not been supplied yet either.

Leahy noted that the Judiciary Committee has authorized subpoenas for the information — subpoenas that Leahy implied he will sign if the requested material and follow-up answers are not provided by a new Aug. 28 deadline.

A spokesman for the Justice Department confirmed that Schlozman has resigned but said he did not know how Schlozman could be reached.

After it became clear that Schlozman could not be confirmed as U.S. attorney in Missouri, he returned to the Justice Department as associate counsel in the executive office that oversees all U.S. attorneys' offices.

He becomes the latest in a long list of high-ranking Bush administration officials to resign their Justice Deparment posts. The list includes Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and his chief of staff; acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer; the Justice Department's White House liaison, Monica Goodling; and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson.

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