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Top Justice Dept. Official Lied Under Oath About Dismissal of New Black Panther Case, Ex-DOJ Lawyer Says

 

A former Justice Department attorney who resigned last month in protest of the Obama administration's handling of a voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panther Party accused a top Justice official of lying under oath about the circumstances surrounding the decision to drop the case.

J. Christian Adams, now an attorney in Virginia and a blogger for Pajamas Media, told Fox News in an exclusive interview that aired Wednesday that Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez provided false testimony in May to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, which is investigating the department's decision to drop charges against three members of the radical group in a case that the government won.

Perez told the commission that the facts and the law didn't support the case against the group.

"I know about the truth…and I know what the truth is and I know to say the facts and law don't support the Black Panther case is not true," Adams said, adding that Perez ignored his warnings not to provide false testimony.

"We made it very clear that continuing to say that the facts and the law don't support this case would not be consistent with the truth," he said.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler called Adams' allegations "baseless." 

"It is not uncommon for attorneys within the department to have good faith disagreements about the appropriate course of action in a particular case, although it is regrettable when a former department attorney distorts the facts and makes baseless allegations to promote his or her agenda," she said in a written statement provided Wednesday.

In the final days of the Bush administration, three Black Panthers --  Minister King Samir Shabazz, Malik Zulu Shabazz and Jerry Jackson -- were charged in a civil complaint with violating the Voter Rights Act in November 2008 by using coercion, threats and intimidation at a Philadelphia polling station -- with Shabazz brandishing what prosecutors called a deadly weapon.

The Obama administration won a default judgment in federal court in April 2009 when the Black Panthers didn't appear in court to fight the charges. But the administration moved to dismiss the charges in May 2009. Justice attorneys said a criminal complaint against one of the Panthers, which resulted in the injunction, proceeded successfully.

The department "is committed to comprehensive and vigorous enforcement of both the civil and criminal provisions of federal law that prohibit voter intimidation. We continue to work with voters, communities, and local law enforcement to ensure that every American can vote free from intimidation, coercion or threats," Schmaler said.

But Adams told Fox News that the department's decision to dismiss the case reeked of racial politics and corruption. 

"I don't think the department or the fine people who work there are corrupt, but in this particular instance, to abandon law-abiding citizens and abet wrongdoers constitutes corruption," he said.

Adams said he quit last month after the department ordered attorneys to ignore a subpoena from the commission.

"After being ordered not to comply with the lawful subpoena, after hearing the lies that are being said about the case, after the corruption that we had witnessed in the case, I just said that's it, that I resign and now I'm no longer there," he said.

Adams also said the department has been caught lying about the case, including the assertion that the decision to dismiss the charges was made only by Loretta King, acting head of the civil rights division, and Steve Rosenbaum, an attorney with the division. 

Citing a Washington Times article, Adams said Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli, the No. 3 official in the department, was responsible for the decision. He also said a written response from the department to the commission revealed that Attorney General Eric Holder was also briefed on the case.

"The initial statements of the department are being proved in hindsight to be false," he said.

When asked whether Holder signed off on the decision to dismiss the case, Adams said, "I can't answer that. We were just doing our job. We didn't even know these things. We thought we had a good case. We thought it's all going to be over with soon and we're going to win. And then it wasn't."

But Adams noted that a former Justice Department official testified to the commission that it would be "unheard of" for a decision like this to be made without the attorney general's blessing.