After a recess so that members of the Senate Judiciary Committee could vote on other legislation, the testimony of former interim U.S. attorney for the Western District of Missouri Bradley Schlozman continued, and at 4:45 p.m. ET, he was excused. Here's an update on his testimony; we'll bring you more on it later.
By the way, a little background information on Schlozman -- he was the first U.S. attorney appointed under a controversial provision of the Patriot Act that allowed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to make the appointment on his own, without seeking confirmation from the Senate. That provision has since been repealed.
Schlozman came to his post as interim U.S. attorney with little prosecutorial experience. As Salon reported on March 21, Schlozman graduated from law school in 1996, then was a clerk for three years and an appellate attorney in Washington for two years before joining the Department of Justice, where he was eventually made head of the voting section of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division. His subsequent rise to the interim U.S. attorney post raised eyebrows at the DOJ, one former senior Justice Department official told Salon for its March 21 article.
"Schlozman was one of Gonzales' guys," the former senior official said, "but several of us were scratching our heads when we heard about it because he was not a very well-regarded trial attorney."
Schlozman has since been replaced as U.S. attorney, but the same former senior official told Salon that this appeared to have been a change in DOJ's original plans. Schlozman is now the associate counsel to the director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys.
The senators have continued to question Schlozman on the issue of the indictments against ACORN voter registration workers, discussed in War Room's last post. Other issues have been raised as well. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., for instance, questioned him about why his predecessor, Todd P. Graves, was told to resign in January 2006. Schlozman said he didn't know, and has separately denied any involvement in the decision to tell Graves to resign. Feinstein, however, seemed to be hinting at one possible reason when she mentioned that in late 2005, when he was still at main Justice, Schlozman overruled Graves, who had declined to file suit against the state of Missouri for a perceived failure to adequately strike ineligible voters from the rolls.
Schlozman has also been asked whether he hired career employees for the DOJ -- whose positions are supposed to be nonpolitical -- based on their political views or affiliations. He has repeatedly denied that, but did seem to get tripped up in an exchange with Sen. Chuck Schumer, based on a transcript provided by CQ Congressional Transcripts:
SCHUMER: 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.
SCHUMER: Thank you. OK, why did you do it if you just said a few minutes ago that it wasn't relevant to have that on their résumés because it wasn't political?
SCHLOZMAN: These individuals, Senator, were not hired because they were Republican or ...
SCHUMER: I didn't ask that. 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?
SCHLOZMAN: No, Senator.
Schlozman got in another contentious exchange with Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., the chairman of the committee. Leahy asked Schlozman to provide an e-mail exchange Schlozman says he had with main Justice about whether to go ahead with the ACORN indictments.
"That would be up to the department," Schlozman replied, "whether they would release those kind of e-mails. I mean, I'm a department employee, and so I assume that it may be a deliberative process. And I can take it back to the department." With that, Leahy threatened a subpoena, "just so there'll be no question about it."
After the recess, Leahy came back to the issue of documents he wants from Schlozman, and again brought up the possibility of a subpoena. "The choice is to provide it voluntarily or provide it with a subpoena," Leahy said. "Either way, I guarantee you, they'll be provided."