The Washington Times - September 22, 2010, 02:19PM

Fresh off releasing documents proving the Obama/Holder Justice Department lied about political involvement in the decision to drop the voter-intimidation case against New Black Panthers, the public-interest organization Judicial Watch now is suing the administration for any records pertaining to meetings that DoJ official Thomas Perrelli attended at the White House during the time when the administration was abandoning most of the case.

The lawsuit seems to be entirely based on reporting that I and Hans von Spakovsky of the Heritage Foundation did, independently of each other, both reports of which came out on January 19 of this year. Quoting from Judicial Watch’s release:



Judicial Watch seeks the following documents through its FOIA request sent on January 19, 2010: 

 “Any and all records of Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli concerning meetings with the White House on the Justice Department’s voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party.  The time frame for this request is from January 20, 2009 to June 15, 2009.”

On March 26, 2010, the DOJ informed Judicial Watch that it had conducted a search for documents, but found “no records responsive to your request.”  Judicial Watch appealed the decision on March 31, 2010, based on “various media accounts in which it was reported that Associate Attorney General Perrelli visited the White House on nine occasions between March 25, 2009, and May 27, 2009, to discuss Defendant’s voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party.”


Our Jan. 19 Washington Times editorial report (I should have said above that it was “we,” not “I,” because I was merely the primary draftsman) began thusly: “The Justice Department insists that only “career employees” made a controversial decision last May to drop voter-intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party. An analysis by The Washington Times, however, suggests good reason to ask if the White House itself interfered in the case.” The annotated timeline that went with it said, in its conclusory paragraph, the following: “In short, almost all of Mr. Perrelli’s key White House meetings coincide almost perfectly with key decisions and developments in the New Black Panther Party case. Yet the Justice Department continues to insist that there was no political interference involved in the decision - despite the lengthy political ties between New Black Panther Jerry Jackson and the Democratic Party, the long-standing personal ties between the key Justice Department officials and President Obama, and the long-simmering ideological dispute within the Justice Department about whether the department should indeed aggressively fight for civil rights protections for white voters, or just for minorities.”

Or, as von Spakovsky more pithily put it: “What did the White House know and when did it know it?…. Newly released White House visitor records present strong circumstantial evidence of White House involvement in what should have been an independent and impartial law-enforcement decision.”

The Judicial Watch papers from earlier this week put these issues into even more stark relief. When one superimposes the timeline compiled by the Washington Times back in January with the logs of email messages that Judicial Watch unearthed, the likelihood of White House involvement only becomes greater.

On April 28, 2009, the team of experienced career DoJ attorneys led by Christopher Coates laid out the case for a broad injunction against all four named defendants. On April 29, Mr. Perrelli met at the White House with Deputy White House Counsel Cassandra Butts, a former lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund — which already, through political director Kristen Clarke, was known to be highly interested in (and reportedly in favor of dropping) the case. On April 30, political-appointee DoJ lawyer Sam Hirsch started a rapid-fire exchange of emails with Perrelli.

On May 13, 14 and 15, the issue reached a head at DoJ, just after Perrelli met at the White House with Ms. Butts and an unnamed White House official. On May 14, Perrelli emailed Hirsch about the case, on the same day that he set up a meeting for May 18 with White House domestic policy advisor Melody Barnes. (Ms. Barnes was no stranger to political interference in race-based court cases: On April 17, 2002, she joined a memo from another former NAACP Legal Defense Fund lawyer, Olati Johnson, to their boss Sen. Edward Kennedy, urging him to delay confirmation of a Bush-nominated federal judge specifically  so as to influence the outcome of two pending, major affirmative action cases from the University of Michigan. The original request to delay the nomination for that purpose came telephonically from Elaine R. Jones, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.)

 On May 15, Perrelli emailed Hirsch “asking for update on the [Panther] litigation … and noting [the Deputy Attorney General’s] current thoughts on the case.” Several more emails flew between the two that day. It was on that day that the Coates team was ordered to dismiss most of the case (and reduce the injunction sought in the remainder down to a pittance), even though the DoJ appellate division also had weighed in on behalf of fully pursuing the case.

Four days later, violent ex-felon Jerry Jackson, against whom all voter-intimidation charges had been suddenly dropped, served against as an official Democratic poll watcher in the same city where he committed his earlier crimes, and in which he had just six months earlier hurled threatening racial epithets at voters.

Judicial Watch, quite understandably, is not inclined to believe there are no memoranda relating to those White House meetings involving Mr. Perrelli. Judicial Watch won its previous lawsuit forcing DoJ to disgorge the aforementioned emails. This story seems to promise more explosive revelations.