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‘Inappropriate’ Call To Justice Official May Have Forced Election-Timed Indictments

By Matt Corley

"‘Inappropriate’ Call To Justice Official May Have Forced Election-Timed Indictments"

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In his Senate testimony last Tuesday, former Missouri U.S. Attorney Bradley Schlozman repeatedly claimed that four controversial voter fraud indictments he filed a week before the 2006 mid-term elections were “directed” and “approved” by others in the Justice Department. Specifically, Schlozman said that Craig Donsanto, the head of the Department’s Election Crimes section, “directed” him to file the charges.

He also claimed that he had consulted with Michael Elston, the chief of staff to then Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty. Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/06/donsan62.320.240.flv]

Former Justice Department officials familiar with Donsanto — the man who literally wrote the Justice Department’s manual on how to approach election crimes — consider his approval of the indictments to be highly unusual. On Thursday, ThinkProgress reported that Joseph Rich, who ran the Department’s Voting Rights section from 1999 to 2005, now believes Donsanto may have been “pressured” to approve the indictments, and that Schlozman’s call to Elston “indicated he may have gone over Donsanto’s head to get approval.”

Former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias and another former official, Bob Kengle, confirmed to McClatchy yesterday that the call to Elston was “inappropriate“:

Iglesias believes that the call to Elston was out of the ordinary.

The former U.S. attorney said Schlozman’s phone call to Elston was “not only strange, it’s inappropriate.” Iglesias said McNulty’s office “is not in the business of micro-managing cases at the district level.”

Others find Donsanto’s approval unusual as well.

A former deputy chief of the department’s Voting Rights Section, Bob Kengle, who worked with Donsanto for years, said Donsanto’s approval seems odd.

“I would be very surprised if Craig said yes of his own volition,” Kengle said.

Yesterday, Bloomberg reported that Schlozman may be seeking to revise his sworn testimony, altering it to say “that he consulted with the section and was given guidance, not direction.”

Transcript:

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: Who approved the ACORN indictments? Name names.

BRADLEY SCHLOZMAN: Craig Donsanto in the Public Integrity Section.

SCHUMER: And you. No one else.

SCHLOZMAN: Well, there’s a department review process, but I don’t know…

SCHUMER: Who did you talk to about the indictments other than Mr. Donsanto.

SCHLOZMAN: I spoke with individuals in the Deputy Attorney General’s office, who advised, who asked me to…

SCHUMER: Give me some names there please.

SCHLOZMAN: Mike Elston would be the only person with him I spoke, which is the deputy attorney general’s chief of staff.

SCHUMER: What did he tell you?

SCHLOZMAN: He said “wait ’til you hear from us.”

SCHUMER: And did you?

SCHLOZMAN: yes.

SCHUMER: And they told you to go ahead?

SCHLOZMAN: yes.

SCHUMER: Ok, who else?

SCHLOZMAN: That was it.

SCHUMER: That was the only other person you spoke to?

SCHLOZMAN: That is correct.

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