None of the NBPP members responded to the charges or made any appearance in court.
Four months after the complaint was filed, at a time career lawyers who brought the charges were in the final stages of seeking actual sanctions, they were told by their superiors to seek a delay after a meeting between political appointees and career supervisors, according to federal records and interviews.
The delay was ordered by Loretta King, who was acting assistant attorney general, after she discussed concerns about the case with Mr. Perrelli. Ms. King, a career senior executive service official, had been named by President Obama in January to temporarily fill the vacant political position of assistant attorney general for civil rights while a permanent choice could be made.
She and other career supervisors ultimately recommended dropping the case against two of the men and the party and seeking a restraining order against the one man who wielded the nightstick. Mr. Perrelli approved that plan, officials said.
None of the front-line lawyers has been made available for comment, and the department has yet to provide any records sought by The Times under a Freedom of Information Act request filed in May seeking documents detailing the decision process.
In an opinion sought by Mr. Wolf, the CRS said it “appears likely that the Double Jeopardy Clause would not prohibit the Justice Department from bringing a similar suit on the same or similar grounds against at least the Party and the individual members for whom the previous suit was dismissed.”
Mr. Smith said if Mr. Perrelli knew about discussions to dismiss the complaint, the Justice Department’s responses to Congress “make no mention of his involvement. Instead, he said, the department offered “vague justifications” for the dismissal, none of which included a legitimate explanation.
Ms. King and Steve Rosenbaum, chief of the department’s special litigation section, were scheduled to brief Mr. Smith and committee Chairman John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, on Thursday, but conflicting schedules have forced that meeting into next month.