Carol Leonnig for WaPo reports that Bradley Schlozman, former acting assistant attorney general for civil rights, is under investigation for trying to turn the DoJ Civil RIghts Division into a political operation in service to the Republican Party. Schlozman's efforts to hire political conservatives for career jobs throughout the division are now being examined as part of a wide-ranging investigation of the Bush administration's alleged politicization of the Justice Department. The department's inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility confirmed last month that their inquiry, begun in March, will look at hiring, firing and legal-case decisions in the division. (…) Schlozman made little effort to hide his personal interest in the political leanings of the staff, according to five lawyers who spoke on the condition of anonymity because -- like most of those interviewed for this article -- they still work at the department. He and his aides frequently asked appellate supervisors whether career lawyers handling politically sensitive cases were "on our team," the lawyers said. (…) Schlozman and several deputies also took an unusual interest in the assignment of office responsibility for appellate cases and, according to the lawyers and one of the supervisors, repeatedly ordered [section chief Diana] Flynn to take cases away from career lawyers with expertise and hand them to recent hires whose résumés listed membership in conservative groups, including the Federalist Society. Colleagues were especially surprised when Sarah Harrington, who graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and was one of the most highly regarded lawyers in the section, had four cases -- including one concerning religious freedom -- taken away at Schlozman's instruction. (…) "When he said he didn't engage in political hiring, most of us thought that was just laughable," said one lawyer in the section, referring to Schlozman's June 5 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Everything Schlozman did was political. And he said so."
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