- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Senate Democrats yesterday interrogated — and at times berated — a senior Justice Department official whom they suspect of pressing charges in an election-fraud case just before the 2006 midterms in order to influence the results.

“The Department of Justice does not time prosecutions to elections,” said Bradley J. Schlozman, who in 2006 was the interim U.S. attorney for Missouri’s Western District.

“Well, yes they do,” shouted Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat.

Mr. Leahy grew frustrated with Mr. Schlozman’s inability to recall certain details, telling him that he was “trying to break Attorney General [Alberto] Gonzales’ record of saying: ‘I don’t recall’ or ‘I don’t remember.’ ”

Mr. Schlozman, who is now the acting assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division, indicted four persons in Missouri on voter-fraud charges one week before the hotly contested 2006 U.S. Senate race won by Democrat Claire McCaskill.

During the two-hour hearing, which no Republican senators attended, Democrats read to Mr. Schlozman comments from a Republican press release after the indictments were made public.

The Missouri Republican Party criticized Mrs. McCaskill and state Democrats over the voter-fraud case, but Mr. Schlozman maintained that he did not intend to influence politics.

“I didn’t think this was going to have any impact on any election,” he said. “These were individuals that were filling out false voter-identification cards.”

“Amazing. Do you read the newspapers at all?” Mr. Leahy said, incredulously.

Democrats pressed Mr. Schlozman about a policy in a Justice Department guidebook for prosecutors, which instructed that “most, if not all, investigation of an alleged election crime must await the end of the election.”

“Why didn’t you just wait a couple weeks more?” Mr. Leahy said, holding up the guidebook.

Mr. Schlozman said he checked with officials at the Justice Department’s Washington headquarters, including Michael Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, before filing the indictments.

Mr. Elston told Mr. Schlozman to wait for a go-ahead to file the indictments. The go-ahead eventually came, Mr. Schlozman said.

Mr. Schlozman acknowledged that he may have boasted about hiring a large number of conservative Republicans at the Justice Department, but said that he did not screen job applicants for their political affiliations or views.

Former Justice Department White House liaison Monica Goodling admitted that she discriminated against some job applicants because of their political affiliations.

“Did you ever — quote — ‘cross the line,’ as Miss Goodling has admitted doing?” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat.

“I did not,” Mr. Schlozman said.

Democrats are probing whether eight federal prosecutors were fired last year for improper reasons. Former U.S. Attorney Todd Graves, who was dismissed in early 2006, also testified yesterday. Mr. Graves is not one of the eight U.S. attorneys who was slated for dismissal by top Justice officials, but Democrats say he too was pushed out for political reasons.

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