In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Democrats Want Probe Of Politicized Hiring Claims At DOJ

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“The Department may be improperly withholding or rescinding offers for these positions based on the perception that candidates hold political or ideological views that do not align with those of the Trump Administration,” the group of House and Senate Democrats wrote. “In multiple cases, the Department appears to have withdrawn offers of employment with explanations that suggest a pretext for improper political motives.”

Under federal laws dating back to the late 1800s, government workers can only be hired or fired based on their merit and work performance. It’s illegal to make those decisions based on their real or perceived political beliefs.

The lawmakers said that since they sent a letter to the DOJ in April citing these allegations, the agency has failed to give a “substantive response,” and more whistleblowers have come forward “with information that corroborates the allegations.”

Asked about the claims at an April 18 congressional hearing, James McHenry, the director of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, denied discussing the political ideology of any candidate for the jobs at issue.

“We would have no way of knowing a candidate’s ideological or political affiliation,” McHenry added. “It is not something that we request or that is part of the application process.”

The Democratic lawmakers emphasized in the April letter that attempts to politicize the DOJ workforce are not new or unique to the Trump administration. They cited investigations that uncovered the George W. Bush administration’s DOJ engaging in similar practices in assessing candidates for the same positions.

The letter is signed by Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Reps. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Joaquin Castro (D-TX), and Donald S. Beyer Jr. (D-VA).

Read the full letter here:

About The Author

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Alice Ollstein is a reporter at Talking Points Memo, covering national politics. She graduated from Oberlin College in 2010 and has been reporting in DC ever since, covering the Supreme Court, Congress and national elections for TV, radio, print, and online outlets. Her work has aired on Free Speech Radio News, All Things Considered, Channel News Asia, and Telesur, and her writing has been published by The Atlantic, La Opinión, and The Hill Rag. She was elected in 2016 as an at-large board member of the DC Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Alice grew up in Santa Monica, California and began working for local newspapers in her early teens.