During a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) asked Justice Department official Bradley Schlozman about evidence that he hired officials for their conservative or Republican affiliations. Schlozman insisted that such qualities were “irrelevant to the hiring decision for a career position.”
But minutes later, Schumer asked Schlozman, “Did you ever boast to anyone that you hired a certain number of Republicans or conservatives for any division or section at the Justice Department?” Schlozman said he had. “I probably have made statements like that,” he said. Watch it:
Schumer noted the discrepancy in Schlozman’s statements. “If you said it was irrelevant at one point, now you’re boasting to people that, ‘Well, we hired Republicans.’ Is there a contradiction there? … It sure seems a contradiction to me,” said Schumer. Later in the hearing, Schlozman also “acknowledged ordering changes in the performance evaluations of some longtime lawyers who were not perceived to be Bush administration loyalists.”
SCHUMER: OK. Let me ask you this one: Did you ever suggest to anyone that an applicant for a position at the Justice Department should change his or her resume to hide a conservative or Republican affiliation or connection?
SCHLOZMAN: What I did do was — I mean, the answer to that is, it’s not a matter of hiding it, but I did encourage individuals to — on a couple of occasions, to take political background which was irrelevant to the hiring decision for a career position and did not include that in the resume that they submitted for a career position.
SCHUMER: Well, did you say — did you say, Don’t put something conservative or Republican so they won’t know your views or your affiliation ?
SCHLOZMAN: What I did do is, we — on a couple of occasions, we had, like, Republican National Lawyers Association. And I would, when I would get a resume — what would end up happening, Senator, is that I would get resumes from third parties, usually for people being considered for either a political or a career position in the division. We had both.
So if it was a career position — if it was a political position, I’d send it up to the Attorney General’s Office for the White House liaison. If it was a career position and there was some kind of — obviously, people in this city have both political and non-political resumes, and if I would see some sort of political background that was irrelevant to the hiring decision, I would encourage them not to include that.
SCHUMER: How many occasions did you do that?
SCHLOZMAN: I mean, perhaps a handful — I mean, three to four, I would assume.
SCHUMER: Can you name some of the people and what affiliations you told them to take off their resume?
SCHLOZMAN: Senator, I don’t remember specific names.
SCHUMER: But you did do it.
SCHLOZMAN: I — yes, I mean, I did do that. Yes.
SCHLOZMAN: Well, one has come out — well, one has apparently come out and made the allegation. For one individual, it’s been in the press.
But I don’t — excuse me, I don’t remember any of the names of any specific individuals, no.
SCHUMER: But you did it on several occasions.
SCHLOZMAN: Probably, yes.
SCHUMER: And it wasn’t just Republican or conservative affiliations that they should do.
SCHLOZMAN: It was purely — if it was purely political background.
SCHLOZMAN: The fact that there might have been some organization that’s perceived as political, that’s not what I was telling them to remove.
It would have been something like…
SCHUMER: You never told people for the purpose of hiding what your views are so you could get in, or whatever.
SCHLOZMAN: It wasn’t a matter of…
SCHUMER: Did you ever tell people that, yes or no?
SCHLOZMAN: As a matter of hiding it, no, I don’t recall making…
SCHUMER: Or something to that effect.
SCHLOZMAN: I don’t recall making any kind of comment like that.
At any time did you receive recommendations for the hiring of career lawyers from the Republican National Lawyers Association?
SCHLOZMAN: I don’t recall getting any recommendations from the RNLA.
SCHUMER: Did Michael Thielen — he was head of it — refer candidates to you?
SCHLOZMAN: I don’t recall. I don’t even know Michael Thielen.
So you have no recollection of that happening?
SCHLOZMAN: I have no recollection of that, no.
Did you ever boast to anyone that you had hired a certain number of Republicans or conservatives for any division or section at the Department of Justice?
SCHLOZMAN: I mean, I don’t remember — what I probably, I mean, I have made statements, you know, that we have in one section brought more, perhaps, individuals who were more professional and…
SCHUMER: No, I didn’t ask professional. You’ve got to answer my question.
I know you may associate Republican or conservative with professional, but that’s not my question.
SCHLOZMAN: Senator, I mean, I may have made statements…
SCHUMER: But this is a — I’m asking these questions, you know, for a reason.
Did you ever boast to anyone that you hired a certain number of Republicans or conservatives for any division or section at the Justice Department?
SCHLOZMAN: I mean, I probably have made statements like that.
And I’ll pursue this in the second round if we’re going to have one, Mr. Chairman.
LEAHY: Thank you, Senator Schumer.