Did Holder Lie Under Oath About Black Panther Scandal?

Recently there was a court decision that validated what Judicial Watch has suggested all along – that political appointees at the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) were involved in the decision to spike the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense (NBPP).

In his ruling awarding JW attorney’s fees for the DOJ’s stonewalling, federal Judge Reggie B. Walton stated that the evidence provided by Judicial Watch “would appear to contradict Assistant Attorney General Perez’s testimony that political leadership was not involved in the decision.”

I’d like to address another very important follow-up question: Did Attorney General Eric Holder also provide false testimony under oath regarding the Black Panther case?

Let’s step back to March 1, 2011, when Holder testified to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. Here’s what he said about the decision to drop the lawsuit (see page 66 of the transcript – or 2:49:00 of the video):

The decisions made in the New Black Panther Party case were made by career attorneys in the department. And beyond that, you know, if we’re going to look at the record, let’s look at it in its totality.

Yes, let’s do that. Let’s look at the record “in its totality.”

Judge Walton’s court reviewed documents that included a series of e-mails between two political appointees: former Democratic election lawyer and current Deputy Associate Attorney General Sam Hirsch and Associate Attorney General Thomas Perrelli. Both DOJ officials were involved in detailed discussions regarding the NBPP decision. For example, in one April 30, 2009 e-mail from Hirsch to Perrelli, with the subject title “Fw: New Black Panther Party Update,” Hirsch writes:

Tom,

I need to discuss this with you tomorrow morning. I’ll send you another email on this shortly. If you want to discuss it this evening, please let me know which number to call and when.

These e-mails were put into further context by an updated Vaughn index obtained by Judicial Watch, describing NBPP documents that the Obama DOJ continues to withhold. These documents, which were attached to the DOJ’s Motion for Summary Judgment filing in the lawsuit, include a description of a May 13 e-mail chain that seems to suggest political appointee Sam Hirsch may have been orchestrating the NBPP decision.

Acting DAAG [Steven Rosenbaum] advising his supervising Acting AAG [Loretta King] of DASG’s [Hirsch’s] request for a memorandum by the Acting DAAG reviewing various options, legal strategies, and different proposals of relief as related to each separate defendant. Acting DAAG forwarding emails from Appellate Section Chief’s and Appellate Attorney’s with their detailed legal analyses including the application of constitutional provisions and judicial precedent to strategies and relief under consideration in the ongoing NBPP litigation, as well as an assessment of the strength of potential legal arguments, and presenting different possible scenarios in the litigation. [Emphasis added.]

In fact, political appointee Sam Hirsch sent an April 30, 2009, e-mail to Steven Rosenbaum (then-Acting Assistant Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights in charge of voting rights) thanking Rosenbaum for “doing everything you’re doing to make sure that this case is properly resolved.” The next day, the DOJ began to reverse course on its NBPP voter intimidation lawsuit.

These individuals – Sam Hirsch and Thomas Perelli – are by no means low-level “career attorneys” as Eric Holder suggested.

Regarding the Attorney General’s personal knowledge of the NBPP decision, Judicial Watch previously obtained two e-mail reports sent by former Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Loretta King to Holder.

The first report, entitled “Weekly Report for the Week ending May 8, 2009,” sent on May 12, 2009, notes: “On May 15, 2009, pursuant to court order, the Department will file a motion for default judgment against at least some of the defendants” in the NBPP lawsuit. The report further notes that the NBPP “has been identified as a racist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League and the founders and members of the original Black Panther Party.”

The second report, entitled “Weekly Report for the Week ending May 15, 2009,” sent on May 18, 2009, demonstrates that the DOJ did an abrupt reversal on the NBPP issue: “On May 15, 2009, the Department voluntarily dismissed its claims” against the NBPP and two of the defendants, the report noted. The DOJ moved for default judgment against only one defendant.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the leadership of the DOJ, including Attorney General Holder, has a problem with truth. There needs to be an independent investigation into whether Holder and Perez committed perjury in testifying about the Black Panther controversy.

We are pleased that a court has already seen through the false narrative presented to it by the DOJ. Obviously, we can’t have our nation’s top law enforcement officers playing fast and loose with the truth.


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