In his new book, The Terror Presidency, former Office of Legal Counsel chief Jack Goldsmith claims “he was quizzed about his political loyalties during his initial job interview” with the Department of Justice. According to Goldsmith, the first question asked in his interview with David Leitch, a deputy to then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, was about his political loyalties:
Goldsmith also said in his book that — like many other Justice Department hires — he was quizzed about his political loyalties during his initial job interview. One of Gonzales’s deputies, David Leitch, opened the conversation by asking him about an $800 campaign contribution Goldsmith had given to a law school dean who was a Democrat. “Why have you never given money to a Republican?” Leitch asked, according to the book. “Are you a Republican?”
Hiring career employees based on political affiliation is forbidden under both federal law and internal Justice Department rules. Though Goldsmith is a political appointee, and thus not covered by federal law, his experience is part of a pattern of politicization in the Bush Justice Department that often did cross the legal and ethical line.
During her May testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, former Justice Department White House Liaison Monica Goodling admitted that she had “taken inappropriate political considerations into account” while hiring. Pressed by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), Goodling conceded that her actions were “illegal.”
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bradley Schlozman, who recently resigned, also imposed a partisan litmus test in his hiring at the Civil Rights Division, even boasting of the number of Republicans he had hired.
The Inspector General of the Justice Department, Glenn Fine, is currently investigating the politicization of the hiring process at DoJ.
UPDATE: It’s been pointed out that as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, Goldsmith was actually a political appointee, so he wasn’t covered by the federal law barring the consideration of political affiliation in hiring. The post has been updated to reflect that while still noting the pattern of politicization at the DoJ that did seemingly cross the legal line.
UPDATE II: TPM’s Paul Kiel has more on Goldsmith’s interview, including the fact that Alberto Gonzales and David Addington were also involved.