An assistant U.S. attorney spent time daily viewing pornography while on the job, and the prosecutor's computer contained at least one image of child pornography, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) said today, citing information from the U.S. Justice Department's inspector general.
Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he was asking for further information about the prosecutor and about DOJ’s handling of the situation. The relevant U.S. Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute the assistant U.S. attorney, and disciplinary action was “pending” as of May 31, according to Grassley’s office.
The assistant U.S. attorney and the location where the person has worked were not publicly identified.
Grassley wrote in a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. that the situation “appears to be an inexcusable mishandling of serious allegations” that “calls into question the DOJ’s internal controls and prosecutorial discretion.” The letter, dated today, asks Holder to provide details about the prosecutor, including whether the person is still employed and eligible for a pension.
Grassley’s letter says his office learned of the case after making a blanket request to all inspectors general for “semiannual reports on closed investigations, evaluations and audits that were not disclosed to the public.” Included in a report from the Justice Department’s inspector general was a brief description of an inquiry into the assistant U.S. attorney.
“The investigation determined that the AUSA routinely viewed adult content during official duty hours, and that there was at least one image of child pornography recovered on the AUSA’s government computer,” the description said, according to Grassley’s letter. “The AUSA acknowledged that he had spent a significant amount of time each day viewing pornography.”
A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment today.
Update (7/8): A statement from DOJ says officials there are aware of the inspector general's report: "As a general practice, when there are criminal allegations of misconduct involving an assistant U.S. attorney, those matters are sent to a different office to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. The department took immediate and appropriate action in this case and the AUSA ceased working in the district in late April 2011 and left federal service in early May 2011."