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By Kevin Daley
Attorney General Jeff Sessions told conservative radio personality Hugh Hewitt that he is open to hiring outside counsel to investigate internal practices at the Obama-era Department of Justice.
Hewitt asked Sessions if he would bring in an independent investigator to probe the Justice Department’s handling of controversies related to alleged bias at the IRS against conservative political groups seeking tax-exempt status, and the gun-running “Fast and Furious” scandal, in which federal law enforcement allowed gun dealers to sell firearms to illegal straw buyers. Those weapons were subsequently recovered at crime scenes in the United States and Mexico.
“Well I’m going to do everything I possibly can to restore the independence and professionalism of the Department of Justice,” Sessions said. “So we’ll have to consider whether or not some outside counsel is needed. Generally, a good review of that internally is the first step before any such decision is made.”
He did not indicate that such an internal review is currently underway.
Conservative critics charge that the Obama Justice Department was widely infested with unprofessionalism and politicized decision-making. The Heritage Foundation’s Hans vons Spakovsky has cataloged a number of such alleged abuses.
He noted in 2015 that DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel determined Justice Department officials could withhold information from internal investigators at their discretion, contravening a federal statute expressly forbidding such conduct.
In a separate piece, he argued Eric Holder’s tenure as AG oversaw a series of dubious prosecutions with obvious political objectives. He writes:
In a failed prosecution of a peaceful abortion protester, for example, a federal judge remarked on the nearly total lack of evidence of any violation of the law. The protester had been targeted to chill the political speech of pro-life advocates. In another case involving police officers in New Orleans, a federal judge found the Justice Department had committed “grotesque prosecutorial abuse” and complained about the “skullduggery” and “perfidy” of Justice prosecutors.
He further expressed fear that politicized hiring among the ranks of career employees ensures Democratic loyalists will staff the core of the DOJ for the foreseeable future.