Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine took questions today from members of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the two recent reports by his office and the Office of Professional Responsibility on how politics influenced hiring in the department.
A few highlights:
• When asked how 34-year-old Monica Goodling, the onetime White House liaison, was able to “rule the day,” Fine said she and the others, like John Nowacki, a deputy in the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, “did not understand the traditions of the Department of Justice.”
Fine placed blame on Goodling’s superiors. The most recent report outlines nearly a dozen instances in which officials as high up as the deputy attorney general rolled over for Goodling. The problem was “people not objecting, people not standing up. A few did, but I think most didn’t,” Fine said.
• Fine said the Office of Professional Responsibility plans to notify state bars of the misconduct outlined in the report. That means Goodling, D. Kyle Sampson, the chief of staff to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and others accused of violating civil service laws and Justice Department policy could face disbarment. But it’s unlikely they’ll see anything more serious.
“We did not think there was a sufficient basis for criminal prosecution for false statements,” Fine said.
• When asked about the 40 or so immigration judges who were selected based on their politics in violation of the law, Fine said he knew of a few who didn’t make it past the probationary period. Others, he said, “are doing well.”
Even though the judges, who were handpicked in most cases by the White House, weren’t required to compete with other qualified candidates, Fine suggested there was little anyone could do now.
“It would be difficult, if not impossible, to see ex post facto if they’re qualified now,” Fine said.