Annual Meeting 2008

DOJ Has Cleaned House, Mukasey Tells ABA

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Updated: Attorney General Michael Mukasey told the ABA House of Delegates this morning that “politics must play no role in either the hiring of career [Department of Justice] employees or the investigation and prosecution of cases.”

He said the DOJ has cleaned house since the disclosure in late July by the DOJ inspector general that senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales violated federal law by considering the political views of candidates seeking career positions in the department.

The inspector general accused former Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson, former DOJ liaison to the White House Monica Goodling, and Goodling’s predecessor, Jan Williams, of a pattern of misconduct that involved using politics to fill nonpolitical jobs.

Mukasey noted those people are no longer with the DOJ, and “I doubt that anyone in this room would want to trade places with any of those people.”

But Mukasey left the strong impression that the DOJ will not criminally prosecute them, saying “not every violation of the law is a crime.” He also said the Department will not fire those who were improperly hired, because they did nothing wrong.

The Department has changed its hiring processes to prevent a repeat of the behavior, he said. It now has mandatory training for political appointees—training that will soon expand to all DOJ employees—about the proper role of politics in the hiring process. It has also encouraged those who were improperly excluded from hiring to reapply.

“Professionalism is alive and well at the Department of Justice today,” he said.

Mukasey’s prepared remarks are available on this release.

Other coverage:

Blog of Legal Times: “Mukasey on Justice Department Hiring: The System Failed”

New York Times: “Mukasey Won’t Pursue Charges in Hiring Inquiry”

Associated Press: “Mukasey: No prosecutions in Justice hiring scandal”

Bloomberg: “Aides in U.S. Hiring Scandal Won’t Be Prosecuted, Mukasey Says”

Updated at 3:40 p.m., central time, to include link to Bloomberg article.

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