We recently published an article on the Justice Department’s most dangerous division that you’ve never heard of, based on a stunning chapter from John Fund and Hans von Spakovsky’s new book, “Obama’s Enforcer: Eric Holder’s Justice Department.”
On Tuesday we caught up with Mr. von Spakovsky, a former FEC appointee and counsel to the assistant attorney general in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division in connection with the release of the book to discuss a variety of topics from “Fast and Furious,” to “Pigford,” immigration, the damage done to national security by the DOJ and more.
His response to the question as to who President Obama might pardon at the end of his tenure (hint: it could be a mass pardon that includes the release of serious criminals), was perhaps most shocking of all.
Below is a transcript of our interview, conducted via phone, with slight edits for clarity and links.
Why should every American read this book?
von Spakovsky: Well because the Justice Department is the most powerful federal agency we have domestically. If a federal prosecutor targets you or your business, they can destroy your business, they can throw you in jail. I mean, they have enormous power. And when you have someone who’s willing to abuse that power, it’s extremely dangerous to the freedom and liberty of Americans.
The book sort follows the arc of Eric Holder’s life and tracks his politicization and then how that manifested itself both in the Clinton White House and now throughout the DOJ today. Is there one key takeaway or set of takeaways you’d hope each reader comes away with?
von Spakovsky: The key thing to understand is that what drives Eric Holder, unlike prior Attorneys General of both parties, is not the interests of justice, but it’s politics and ideology. And because of that, he has completely politicized the enforcement of federal laws.
And one of the elements in your book that you speak to is just how far reaching the tentacles of the DOJ spread, and I think you say it’s the largest law firm in the country. Give people a sense as to the size and scope of the powers of the Department of Justice and what areas of society it touches
von Spakovsky: Sure. They’ve got a 27 billion dollar budget. They’ve got more than a 100,00 employees, and they aren’t just lawyers, but they also are responsible, for example, for the FBI. The FBI’s part of the Justice Department, and so is the ATF — Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Also they run all of the federal prisons across the country, and they have this huge program in which they give federal money to state and local police and other agencies all across the country. So really, their fingers are spread throughout the entire law enforcement system from the local cops all the way up to the Feds, including the FBI.
What in your view is the one most dangerous example of lawlessness that exists in the Department of Justice today?
von Spakovsky: I think it’s what the House of Representatives held him [Attorney General Holder] in contempt for the first time in American history – and that was Operation Fast and Furious. That was probably the most reckless law enforcement operation the Justice Department has ever conducted because it actually has led to the death of not just an American agent, but apparently, literally, hundreds of people in Mexico.
Can you walk readers through the key highlights or the key bullet points as to why the concept of gunwalking and the way it was implemented was so lawless and so far reaching in its criminality?
von Spakovsky: The standard way the Justice Department rolls out a drug cartel or a mob organization is, they start with the lower level folks, they arrest them, but then they give them a choice where they will be willing to basically turn in the people above them. And what they do is they roll out the organization starting out at the bottom, getting all the way to the top. But to do that, you’ve got to be willing to catch the lower level people with drugs, or guns, or whatever it is, and arrest them. And in this case, they sold guns to straw purchasers for the drug cartels, but then didn’t arrest them, and most importantly, didn’t follow the guns as they passed through the levels up to the highest levels of these cartels so that they could arrest the folks at the top. They just basically lost track of them as soon as they had been purchased. It wasn’t just reckless, it was “felony stupid” as Chairman [of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee] Issa of the House of Representatives has said.