Fox News is trumpeting completely unsubstantiated allegations made by GOP activist and former Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams that the DOJ improperly dismissed voter-intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party for political reasons. But Adams, a longtime Republican activist, relied on hearsay and charges made by others, rather than firsthand knowledge, in making his allegations.
Fox News' Kelly interviews GOP activist for “explosive new allegations”
Kelly hypes “explosive new allegations in an infamous case of voter intimidation.” On the June 30 edition of America Live, host Megyn Kelly promised “explosive new allegations” in the Black Panther case and introduced her interview with Adams by commenting: “A Justice Department lawyer giving America Live a dramatic interview today alleging politics and race were to blame for the decision not to pursue serious charges against members of the New Black Panther Party.” Kelly referred to Adams as “one of the lead lawyers who brought and won that case.”
Adams is a longtime GOP activist
Kelly: A source “close to the case” said “Christian Adams is a conservative who has made willful misstatements in this interview.” After airing the interview with Adams, Kelly reported the Justice Department's reaction to Adams' allegations and then noted, “Another source close to the case telling one of our producers that Christian Adams is a conservative who has made willful misstatements in this interview.”
Adams is a longtime conservative activist reportedly hired by Bush appointee who politicized the Justice Department. A December 2, 2009, article on the legal news website Main Justice reported that Adams “was hired in 2005 by then-Civil Rights Division political appointee Bradley Schlozman, according to a person familiar with the situation” and that “Schlozman was found in this joint investigation of the Justice Department's Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility to have violated civil service rules by improperly taking political and ideological affiliations into account when making career attorney hires."
DOJ IG “found that Schlozman considered political and ideological affiliations when hiring and taking other personnel actions relating to career attorneys, in violation of Department policy and federal law.” A July 2008 report from the Department of Justice Inspector General's Office and the Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that Schlozman “considered political and ideological affiliations when hiring and taking other personnel actions relating to career attorneys in violation of Department policy and federal law.” The report also concluded:
The evidence in our investigation showed that Schlozman, first as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General and subsequently as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and Acting Assistant Attorney General, considered political and ideological affiliations in hiring career attorneys and in other personnel actions affecting career attorneys in the Civil Rights Division. In doing so, he violated federal law -- the Civil Service Reform Act -- and Department policy that prohibit discrimination in federal employment based on political and ideological affiliations, and committed misconduct. The evidence also showed that Division managers failed to exercise sufficient oversight to ensure that Schlozman did not engage in inappropriate hiring and personnel practices. Moreover, Schlozman made false statements about whether he considered political and ideological affiliations when he gave sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee and in his written responses to supplemental questions from the Committee.
Adams reportedly volunteered with GOP group that “trains lawyers to fight on the front lines of often racially tinged battles over voting rights.” The December 2009 Main Justice article further reported:
Before coming to the Justice Department, Adams volunteered with the National Republican Lawyers Association, an offshoot of the Republican National Committee that trains lawyers to fight on the front lines of often racially tinged battles over voting rights.
In 2004, Adams served as a Bush campaign poll watcher in Florida, where he was critical of a black couple for not accepting a provisional ballot in early voting after officials said they had no record of the couple's change of address forms, according to Bloomberg News. Democratic poll watchers had advised voters not to accept provisional ballots because of the risk they could be discounted under Florida law, Bloomberg reported.
Adams likened Obama to appeasers who caused “carnage” of WWII. In an October 30, 2009, American Spectator piece, Adams wrote: “President Obama's received his Peace Prize, according to the Nobel Committee, for his 'efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between nations.' Norman Angell's Nobel was awarded for similar reasons.” Adams went on to blame Angell's ideas for World War II:
The 1933 Peace Prize winner profoundly influenced British policy in ways that led directly to German tanks rolling into Poland in September 1939. War did not break out because nations ignored Angell's advice; instead, the ensuing carnage in Europe happened because European democracies made Angell's ideas government policy.
Adams concluded: “Churchill, responding directly to Angell, asked 'who is the man vain enough to suppose that the long antagonisms of history and of time can in all circumstances be adjusted by the smooth and superficial conventions of politicians and ambassadors?' The Nobel Committee may have answered Sir Winston's query for the 21st century.”
Adams accused Obama administration of “profound hostility” toward “a race-neutral enforcement of civil rights laws.” In a June 28 Pajamas Media post, Adams wrote:
If we had that frank, truthful discussion about race, we'd learn that the Obama administration doesn't believe some civil rights laws protect every American. The Bush Civil Rights Division was willing to protect all Americans from racial discrimination; during the Obama years, the Holder years, only some Americans will be protected. Americans have a right to know and judge the racial policies of the administration they elected in 2008.
In the same post, he stated that “the best explanation for the corrupt dismissal” of the New Black Panthers case “is the profound hostility by the Obama Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department towards a race-neutral enforcement of civil rights laws.”
During Fox interview, Adams provides hearsay -- not firsthand evidence -- to back up his allegations
DOJ: Adams “distorts the facts and makes baseless allegations to promote his ... agenda.” After airing the interview, Kelly said:
Well, the Department of Justice reacting to Mr. Adams' statements -- we reached out to them this morning -- saying that the department sought and obtained an injunction against the Black Panther who had a night stick at the polling station. But it says that after a thorough review, the facts did not support the claims against the other defendants in the case. It goes on to say, quote, “It is not uncommon for attorneys within the department to have good-faith disagreements about the appropriate course of action in a particular case. Although it is regrettable when a former Department attorney distorts the facts and makes baseless allegations to promote his or her agenda.”
Adams says he got his facts from “the testimony.” During the interview, Kelly asked Adams, “So, what happened at the Department of Justice to get you to the point where you literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory?” Adams said, "[W]hat happened was -- and it's been -- there's been testimony -- we were ordered to dismiss the case. We were told, 'Drop the charges against the New Black Panther Party.' " Kelly asked, “Who told you that?” Adams responded, “Well, the testimony's been that Steve Rosenbaum and Loretta King, two political officers at the department, ordered the dismissal of the case” [emphasis added].
Adams: "[T]here are some things I'm not going to reveal as far as who they are. They know who they are." During the interview, Adams suggested his allegations about the decisions surrounding the case were evidence of “a pervasive hostility to bringing these sorts of civil rights cases.” Kelly asked Adams whether the DOJ has “a policy now of not pursuing cases if the defendant is black and the victim is white.” At one point, Kelly also asked, “Who specifically has issued that mandate?” Adams responded, "[T]here are some things I'm not going to reveal as far as who they are. They know who they are."
Adams: “I don't know. I wasn't there.” During the interview, Adams claimed Rosenbaum “hadn't even read the memos which detailed all of the facts and the law before he started arguing the case. The mind was made up.” He went on to claim that Chris Coates, a DOJ attorney, “actually threw the memo at Rosenbaum and said, 'How dare you make these arguments without even knowing what's in the briefs?' ” When Kelly asked, “What was the response? I mean, that's extraordinary story,” Adams said, “I don't know. I wasn't there” :
KELLY: [W]hen you were arguing, when the career -- when the trial attorneys were trying to convince these two political attorneys to let the case go forward -- you'd already won, saying, “Don't reverse our victory,” essentially -- there was a meeting, and these lawyers would later testify -- the political lawyers would later come out and say that they reviewed all the evidence. The Department of Justice has said they looked at the all evidence and they made a decision based on that evidence: the case couldn't go forward. You say there is evidence that they did not review the facts of this case and even the briefs of this case.
ADAMS: Yeah. It's obviously false that they knew all the evidence. They -- Steve Rosenbaum hadn't even read the memos which detailed all of the facts and the law before he started arguing against the case. The mind was made up.
And it was so derelict and so corrupt that Chris Coates actually threw the memo at Rosenbaum and said, “How dare you make these arguments without even knowing what's in the briefs?”
KELLY: So your boss, the guy who had been a career DOJ lawyer, voting-rights lawyer, throws the memo, throws a brief at the head of this guy Steve Rosenbaum?
ADAMS: He very passionately believed in the merits of this case and very much opposed corruption of this sort, and he was angry.
KELLY: What was the response? I mean, that's an extraordinary story.
ADAMS: I don't know. I wasn't there.
KELLY: But this came to you from Coates.
KELLY: And you have no doubt that it occurred?
ADAMS: There's no question about it, it occurred.
KELLY: So what -- do you know the explanation from Rosenbaum, from this other woman, Loretta King, as to why they hadn't bothered to read the briefs at the DOJ on this case and why it should go forward?
ADAMS: They will probably deny that they didn't read it, but you can't explain something like that.