Right-wing media are hyping the dubious allegations of former Justice Department lawyer J. Christian Adams, a GOP activist reportedly hired to the DOJ by Bush political appointee Bradley Schlozman, who was found to have inappropriately considered political affiliation and ideology when hiring career attorneys.
Right wing trumpets Adams' unsupported allegations
Adams' allegations spread across the right-wing media. After Adams penned a Washington Times column leveling accusations of a “corrupt” dismissal of the New Black Panthers case and appeared in an interview with Fox News' Megyn Kelly, Adams' unsubstantiated story spread throughout other right-wing media. Kelly brought the story to Hannity, and it was picked up by Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham, radio host Jay Severin, the blogs Hot Air, Atlas Shrugs, Ace of Spades, Andrew Breitbart's Big Government, and the Fox website Fox Nation.
Adams reportedly hired by Bush appointee who politicized the Justice Department
Adams reportedly hired by Bush appointee Schlozman, 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.”
Schlozman's politicization wrought havoc on Civil Rights Division
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 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.
Schlozman is said to have picked attorneys who “lacked relevant experience” and “rarely expressed any interest in civil rights enforcement.” The IG/OPR report stated that Special Litigation Section Chief Shanetta Cutlar “said that the applicants whose résumés she reviewed after they had been culled from the applicant pool by Schlozman or others in the front office typically reflected membership in conservative organizations. She also said the most striking thing she noticed about the résumés was that the applicants generally lacked relevant experience. She said Schlozman minimized the importance of prior civil rights or human rights work experience.” In addition, the report states:
Former Criminal Section Chief [Albert] Moskowitz also said the candidates for career positions chosen by Schlozman had conservative political or ideological affiliations and rarely had any civil rights background, rarely expressed any interest in civil rights enforcement, and had very little or no federal criminal experience.
Schlozman testified that he “probably ha[d]” boasted about hiring Republicans or conservatives. From a June 5, 2007, Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on politicized hiring and firing in the DOJ (from the Nexis database):
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER: Did you ever boast to anyone that you hired a certain number of Republicans or conservatives for any division or section at the Justice Department?
MR. SCHLOZMAN: I mean, I probably have made statements like that.
In addition, the IG/OPR report cited a January 2004 email in which Schlozman wrote to an attorney he had hired: “Just between you and me, we hired another member of 'the team' yesterday. And still another ideological comrade will be starting in one month. So we are making progress.”
IG/OPR documented Schlozman discussing the removal of “disloyal” “liberals” and hiring of conservative “real Americans.” The same report outlined statements from Justice Department officials who said that Schlozman attempted to remove Democrats and liberals and hire “real Americans” or “right-thinking Americans,” which the report determined to mean conservatives. From the report:
Several attorneys in the Division also told us that Schlozman was open about his disdain for and lack of trust in the attorney staff of the Division. Appellate Section Chief Diana Flynn told us that in conversations with her, Schlozman alternately referred to the Appellate Section lawyers hired during prior administrations as “Democrats” and “liberals,” and said they were “disloyal,” could not be trusted, and were not “on the team.” Flynn said Schlozman pledged to move as many of them out of the Division as he could to make room for the “real Americans” and “right-thinking Americans” he wanted to hire.
Accounts from numerous other Division employees and officials, including former AAG Wan Kim and Section Chiefs Cutlar and Flynn, as well as the context of Schlozman's e-mails, indicate that his use of terms such as “real American,” “right-thinking American,” being “on the team,” and similar terms were Schlozman's way of referring to politically conservative applicants and attorneys. For example, an e-mail dated July 17, 2006, from Schlozman to Monica Goodling, who at the time was Senior Counsel to the Attorney General and White House Liaison, sheds light on the meaning of Schlozman's terms. In that e-mail, Schlozman recommended a friend who had interviewed with Goodling for a political position. Schlozman wrote, “I can assure you that [the applicant] is a good American. [The applicant] and Sheldon Bradshaw and I (and [one] other person) made up a four-member Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy at my former law firm.” In another e-mail sent to Goodling on December 4, 2006, in which Schlozman recommended a different friend for an Immigration Judge position, Schlozman wrote, "[D]on't be dissuaded by his ACLU work on voting matters from years ago. This is a very different man, and particularly on immigration issues, he is a true member of the team."
A May 9, 2003, e-mail provides additional evidence of the meaning of Schlozman's phrases. Luis Reyes, then Counsel to the AAG for the Civil Division, sent an e-mail to Schlozman in connection with a legal matter, endorsing an attorney in the Department's Office of Legal Policy as a “right thinking american [sic] to say the least.” In an e-mail response, Schlozman wrote that he “just spoke with [the attorney] to verify his political leanings and it is clear he is a member of the team.”
IG/OPR: Schlozman cut section managers out of the hiring process. As explained in the IG/OPR report, a memorandum on hiring procedures sent out by Ralph F. Boyd Jr., then the Civil Rights Division assistant attorney general, indicated that section chiefs were supposed to interview and provide hiring recommendations. However, the report states that Schlozman “prevented many career section chiefs from reviewing résumés of the complete applicant pool, and he only provided to them résumés of applicants he interviewed. Five of the six section chiefs whom Schlozman supervised while [deputy assistant attorneys general], from May 2003 to June 2005, told us that Schlozman further minimized their roles in the hiring process by providing little advance notice of applicant interviews, discouraging their asking questions during the interviews, and ignoring their assessments and recommendations regarding attorney applicants.” In sections of the Civil Rights Division where Schlozman was not responsible for hiring, by contrast, "[c]areer section managers and attorneys in these sections had greater roles in the process for hiring experienced attorneys."
Former DOJ official testified that “damage” done to Civil Rights Division by Bush administration hiring practices is “deep and will take time to overcome.” Joseph D. Rich, chief of the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section from 1999-2005 and an employee of the Civil Rights Division for 37 years, testified that the appearance of “a conscious effort to remake the Division's career staff” during the Bush administration “resulted in an alarming exodus of career attorneys -- the longtime backbone of the Division that had historically maintained the institutional knowledge of how to enforce our civil rights laws tracing back to the passage of our modern civil rights statutes.” From Rich's March 22, 2007, testimony before the House Judiciary Committee:
During the Bush Administration, there has been an unprecedented effort to change the make-up of the career staff at the Civil Rights Division. This has resulted in a major loss of career personnel with many years of experience in civil rights enforcement and in the invaluable institutional memory that had always been maintained in the Division until now -- in both Republican and Democratic administrations. Replacement of this staff through a new hiring process resulted in the perception and reality of politicization of the Division, and high profile decisions in voting matters have added significantly to this. The overall impact has been a loss of public confidence in the fair and even-handed enforcement of civil rights laws by the Department of Justice.
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 an interview with Adams on the June 30 edition of America Live, 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 reportedly volunteered with GOP group that “trains lawyers to fight on the front lines of often racially tinged battles over voting rights.” The December 2, 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.”