Justice Dept Expands Atty Hiring Probe

An ongoing investigation of the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys, allegedly as part of a political purge, has been expanded.

In a letter today to the Senate Judiciary Committee, two Justice Department officials said the investigation has now been widened to include essentially any attorney hiring improperly influenced by political considerations throughout the agency, according to the Washington Post.

The expansion follows last week’s Senate Judiciary Committee testimony by former Gonzales senior counsel and White House liaison Monica Goodling, in which she admitted that she had improperly taken political concerns into account when hiring career prosecutors and immigration judges, a Reuters article points out.

“Today’s letter indicates that new areas of inquiry include hiring practices in the civil rights division, where veteran lawyers have left in recent years after what they called heavy-handed tactics by political appointees, such as overruling the views of division experts on pivotal voting rights cases in Georgia and Texas,” the Post article states.

It remains to be seen how the expanded probe may or may not affect the continuing tenure of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is facing a potential no-confidence vote in the Senate over his management of the department.

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