Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Attorney General Michael Mukasey on Tuesday rejected the idea of criminally prosecuting former Justice Department employees who improperly used political litmus tests in hiring decisions, saying he had already taken strong internal steps in response to a “painful” episode.
Two recent reports from the Justice Department inspector general and its internal ethics office have found that about a half-dozen officials at the Justice Department — all but one now gone — systematically rejected candidates with perceived “liberal” backgrounds for what were supposed to be non-political jobs and sought out conservative Republicans.
In a speech Tuesday morning to the American Bar Association in New York, Mr. Mukasey acknowledged that some critics and commentators have called on the Justice Department to take what he called “more drastic steps” in dealing with the scandal, including prosecuting those at fault and firing those hired through flawed procedures.
“Where there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we vigorously prosecute,” he said. “But not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime,” he said. As the inspector general’s report acknowledged, the hiring violations were such a case, because the wrongdoing violated federal civil service law, but not criminal law, he said.
“That does not mean, as some people have suggested, that those officials who were found by the joint reports to have committed misconduct have suffered no consequences,” Mr. Mukasey said. “Far from it. The officials most directly implicated in the misconduct left the Department to the accompaniment of substantial negative publicity.
Read full article here. [Brooks Holland]