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DOJ confirms widened internal probe on politicized hiring decisions

[JURIST] The Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility [official websites] of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) have expanded internal investigations [JURIST report] into whether politics played a role in hiring decisions within the department, the DOJ confirmed in a letter [PDF text] sent Wednesday to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The announcement comes on the heels of last week's testimony [JURIST report] from former DOJ aide Monica Goodling [JURIST news archive] before the House Judiciary Committee on the controversial firings of US attorneys [JURIST news archive]. According to the letter, the DOJ's internal probe will now investigate allegations of improperly politicized hiring decisions of career employees, including members of its Honors Program, Summer Law Intern Program, and Civil Rights Division. Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) applauded [press release] the move as further means to probe the DOJ's "crisis of leadership" which allowed "unprecedented and improper reach of politics into the Department’s professional ranks." Reuters has more.

On May 23 testimony, Goodling contradicted March claims by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [JURIST news archive] that he "was not involved in any discussions" about the firings. She testified that previous Senate Judiciary Committee testimony [JURIST report] by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty was "incomplete or inaccurate in a number of respects" and also admitted to considering applicants based on their politics in violation of federal law. In mid-June, the Senate will debate a resolution of no-confidence [JURIST report] in Gonzales, which ranking Republican Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) believes will be joined by a "sizable number" of Republican members of Congress [JURIST report].

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