The Department of Justice under former President Barack Obama has been held up by critics of President Donald Trump’s White House as above reproach, untainted by the political bias some allege runs rampant in the current administration.
In light of this revisionist history, it is worth examining the numerous examples of political bias in the Obama Justice Department. Here are five examples:
- Funneled Financial Crisis Settlement Money To Liberal Groups And Excluded Conservative Groups
Emails written by Obama DOJ officials, obtained by the House Judiciary Committee in October as part of an ongoing investigation, revealed the agency engaged in a systemic effort to funnel money garnered from settlements with big banks to liberal advocacy organizations.
The agency effectively skirted Congress’s budgetary authority by requiring that major financial institutions donate to a group of affordable housing nonprofits and legal advocacy organizations as part of settlement agreements resulting from predatory mortgage lending practices. The investigation has thus far yielded evidence implicating the Obama DOJ in using mandatory donations to funnel roughly $1 billion in settlement money to activist groups, including The National Council of La Raza, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and the National Urban League. The list of third-party organizations were unrelated to the legal settlements, except through general claims that they would use the funds to aid the low-income Americans most severely harmed by predatory lending practices.
Another internal email exchange reveals that DOJ officials made a concerted effort to prevent the allocation of settlement funds to a conservative legal group.
A senior Obama DOJ official confirmed the extensive coordination required to prevent conservative groups from benefiting from the financial settlements in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee. Officials reworded a mandatory donation provision with the explicit goal of “not allowing Citi to pick a statewide intermediary like the Pacific Legal Foundation [PLF],” according to the official, who explained, “does conservative property-rights free legal services.”
- DOJ’s Community Relations Service Provided Security For Racial Protests
The Community Relations Service (CRS), a unit of DOJ, deployed to Sanford, Fla., in 2012 “to provide technical assistance for the preparation of possible marches and rallies related to the fatal shooting” of Trayvon Martin at the hands of neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, according to DOJ documents obtained by Judicial Watch.
The rally featured prominent racial provocateur Rev. Al Sharpton as a speaker. The unit “was in Florida as part of their mandated mission,” a CRS spokeswoman told The Daily Caller. The mission is to serve as a “‘peacemaker’ for community conflicts and tensions arising from differences of race, color, and national origin,” according to department’s website.
- Fast And Furious
Former Attorney General Eric Holder was cited for contempt of Congress in 2012 for refusing to turn over documents related to Operation Fast and Furious — a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives effort to track weapons that backfired when authorities lost track of 1,000 firearms they allowed straw buyers to take across the border.
The citation came after Obama asserted executive privilege to avoid turning over the documents, that Congress sought to explain why the DOJ decided to withdraw as inaccurate in a February 2011 letter. The letter claimed top officials were unaware of the operation until long after its conclusion.
Releasing the documents would “inhibit the candor of executive branch deliberations in the future and significantly impair the ability of the executive branch to respond independently and effectively to congressional oversight,” Holder argued at the time.
Holder attributed the criticism surrounding the administration’s handing of the scandal to racism: “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” he said. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”
- The Tarmac Meeting And The “Matter”
Former President Bill Clinton met with then Attorney General Loretta Lynch in June 2016 on the tarmac of the Phoenix airport as Lynch was overseeing the investigation into then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s improper handling of classified information.
Former FBI Director James Comey testified in June 2017 that the ethically dubious meeting forced him to hold an independent press conference announcing Clinton’s use of a private email server was “extremely careless,” but decided against recommending charges. He further testified that Lynch asked him to refer to the investigation as a “matter,” so as to downplay its significance — a request Comey admitted made him feel “queasy.”
Both Clintons and Lynch maintain nothing inappropriate was discussed during the meeting. Hillary insisted the pair met because their planes “happened to be next to each other.”
- Interference In State Voter Laws
A panel of federal judges rejected the 2011 Texas voter-ID law one year after its passage, concluding it “imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor, and racial minorities.” The Supreme Court weakened the Voting Rights Act significantly in 2013, allowing Texas to move ahead with implementing the law. This prompted the Obama DOJ to issue a legal challenge on a basis the law was intended to disenfranchise racial minorities. Holder’s opposition to the High Court’s ruling drew intense criticism from Republican lawmakers and governors who argued the move represented an affront to the Constitution.
“This end run around the Supreme Court undermines the will of the people of Texas, and casts unfair aspersions on our state’s common-sense efforts to preserve the integrity of our elections process,” former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, said in a statement.
After a series of disparate rulings, the full appeals court took up the case in 2016 and ultimately ruled in July 2016 that the law violated the Voting Rights Act.
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