To get away with criminal activity it helps to have a job at DOJ

Eric Felten:
It wasn’t the first time the FBI attorney had been in the Marine Corps Base Quantico Exchange. Nor was that day in February 2018 the first time she had secreted cosmetics in her purse. But it was the first time she was caught – with $257.99 worth of shoplifted beauty products in her bag. She admitted to the crime – and to stealing from other area stores. And yet she was not prosecuted.

Not that it was a surprise. The Justice Department regularly declines to prosecute high-ranking current and former department officials, even when its Office of Inspector General provides the grounds for it.

The Department of Justice OIG does not keep complete public records on the number of prosecutions that result from its investigations. But the office does keep track of certain cases – those involving wrongdoing by senior DoJ managers and officials that Justice declines to prosecute.

In 2019 the Justice Department’s Inspector General’s office issued 27 such reports of alleged wrongdoing by senior Justice Department officials and employees that went unprosecuted – everything from nepotism in hiring, to making false claims on mortgage documents, to “lack of candor” with federal investigators, to sexual assault. RealClearInvestigations reviewed the OIG’s summaries of its investigations and found that in at least a dozen of those cases the inspector general determined that the wrongdoing was serious enough to be criminal. Even so, the Department of Justice declined to bring criminal charges. The sticky-fingered FBI attorney was one of the more strictly treated – she had to agree to 125 hours of community service to avoid prosecution.

The OIG also makes public the outcomes of “cases involving high profile investigations” such as those into former FBI Director James Comey and former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

“By not safeguarding sensitive information obtained during the course of his FBI employment,” the OIG found, “Comey set a dangerous example.” The Inspector General’s office provided its “findings to the Department for a prosecutorial decision.” But, “After reviewing the matter, the Department declined prosecution.”

As for McCabe, the OIG found he repeatedly lacked candor while being questioned under oath. Justice chose not to bring charges against him either.

It’s much harder to find cases of senior officials who are found by the OIG to have committed wrongdoing and are subsequently prosecuted. An example is Barbara Zoccola, who was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Memphis until the OIG caught her falsifying her time and attendance records.

But there are reasons to believe such prosecutions are rare. For example, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia – who would have jurisdiction over misconduct committed in Washington – puts out press releases announcing indictments and convictions. In 2019 there were press releases regarding any number of murders, robberies, and molestations – the all too common crimes of any big city. But Washington being the seat of government, there were announcements of indictments and convictions of government employees, including cases of bribery at the Department of Housing and Urban Development and at Veterans Affairs, as well as espionage at the departments of State and Defense. But none of the 2019 releases involved wrongdoing by senior DOJ officials.

Another advantage DOJ officials apparently enjoy is that those alleged to have committed wrongdoing – even criminal wrongdoing – are rarely named publicly.
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The two-tier justice system in the US is real and corruption should not be ignored.  What seems clear is that Papadopoulos, Flynn, and others would not have been prosecuted if they worked for DOJ where people committed much more egregious crimes and nothing happened to them.  It also helps to be a Democrat like Hillary Clinton or work directly for her to avoid prosecution for criminal activity.

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