Uh oh: DoJ lawyer to testify tomorrow on voter-intimidation case dismissal

posted at 12:15 pm on September 23, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

When the Civil Rights Commission attempted to discover why the Department of Justice dropped a voter-intimidation case they had already won, the Obama administration told the attorneys in the Civil Rights division to ignore subpoenas from the panel.  At the time they complied, but one of the key potential witnesses to the decision has decided to break his silence.  In an exclusive, Pajamas Media has the letter from Christopher Coates requesting an immediate audience before the Commission:

In a dramatic development that could shake the political leadership of  the Justice Department, career lawyer Christopher Coates has sent a letter to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights offering to testify Friday on matters related to the controversial New Black Panthers voter-intimidation case. Click here or on the screen capture below to read Coates’ letter in PDF form …

Ten months ago, Coates, the award-winning former chief of the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division, was subpoenaed by the Commission to testify about the case. He was subsequently instructed by DOJ officials to ignore the subpoena. Within the past hour, commissioners were informed that Chairman Gerald Reynolds had spoken with Coates and that the chairman would reconvene the Commission’s ongoing hearing on Friday at 9:30 a.m. to hear Coates’s testimony.

The Civil Rights Commission has sought to obtain Coates’ testimony on Justice’s dismissal of the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case in Philadelphia. In a recent request to Justice, the Commission agreed to limit initial questioning of Coates to accusations made by former career lawyer J. Christian Adams about statements and other actions by Julie Fernandes, an Obama administration political appointee, if DOJ produced Coates.

The DOJ refused.

That refusal apparently means that the Commission will not feel obligated to honor those restrictions in the hearing tomorrow.  That means that the panel will almost certainly ask wide-ranging questions about the politicization of the CRD and attempts by the White House and Attorney General Eric Holder to squelch prosecution not just in the case of the New Black Panther Party activists in this case, but in other civil rights cases as well.

Coates’ decision to defy the DoJ and presumably the White House to comply with the subpoena cannot be good news for Barack Obama or Holder.  Clearly they did not want the career attorneys to speak openly about what has been happening within the CRD or the DoJ.  The only one to do so, J. Christian Adams, quit his post to blow the whistle on political pressures being placed on career attorneys concerning prosecutions and compliance efforts on other parts of the various voting regulations, including the necessity of states to remove ineligible voters from the registration rolls.

Expect some fireworks tomorrow.  If Coates is this motivated to testify, he must have something explosive to say.  That could put Holder back on the hot seat with Congress and have Obama looking to cut some people loose to contain the damage.

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It remains to be seen if this is a conversation on race Eric Holder has the courage to have.

Lily on September 23, 2010 at 2:05 PM

Democratics always say they want ‘a conversation’, but it’s the kind of conversation you had with the grade-school principal when you were in trouble. In other words, shut up and I’ll tell you what to think.

slickwillie2001 on September 23, 2010 at 2:11 PM

Flop sweat. Looking forward to your comments after his testimony. You are in favor of equal justice for all, aren’t you?

a capella on September 23, 2010 at 1:31 PM

crr6 is not in favor of equal justice for all. Only for those whom with she/it agrees. (and for those who toss her rotten apples from the bridge).

ted c on September 23, 2010 at 2:13 PM

So his justice team can join his economics team and go bleed some other host outside the administration. Progress, I suppose.

MJBrutus on September 23, 2010 at 2:14 PM

I sure as hell hope he has got some good protection and has everything in writing. Remember Vince Foster.

Col.John Wm. Reed on September 23, 2010 at 2:17 PM

This should be very interesting testimony indeed.

AZCoyote on September 23, 2010 at 2:21 PM

I hear a bus warming up………

Jim708 on September 23, 2010 at 12:25 PM

So do I. My guess is Julie Fernandes will be the first one under the wheels. Barry will try to protect Holder, but if the public outcry is bad enough, he’ll go too.

AZCoyote on September 23, 2010 at 2:29 PM

Maybe we’ll get an impeachment yet.

GarandFan on September 23, 2010 at 3:08 PM

You guys are still babbling on about this? Didn’t someone on the CRC basically admit they’re just looking into the case for political reasons?

crr6 on September 23, 2010 at 1:23 PM

Yeah, we tend to babble about corrupt politicians, until they are removed…we babble about politicians lying to congress…that’s what this site is about.
Exposing and babbling about liberals politicians who are corrupt, we have an endless resource.
Holding liberals accountable is a full time job…and one that people like you, who embrace these kind of political acts, hate.

right2bright on September 23, 2010 at 3:21 PM

1994 only had the House Post office story to provide an easily understood narrative of the culture of corruption of 40 years of Democrat rule. Obama has had only 20 months and already the smell of rot is overpowering.

pedestrian on September 23, 2010 at 3:32 PM

What concerns me in all of thisis that it’s happening on a Friday…The Famous Friday Dumps…

red131 on September 23, 2010 at 4:28 PM

I bet it is no co-inky-dink that Stephen Colbert is tesifying on the same day.

Gee I wonder who the press will cover?

Lily on September 23, 2010 at 5:26 PM

I sure hope this guy has Jack Bauer guarding him tonight…just sayin’……

huskerdiva on September 23, 2010 at 5:54 PM

Col.John Wm. Reed on September 23, 2010 at 2:17 PM

Great minds…….HT to you Sir and Thanks for your service!

huskerdiva on September 23, 2010 at 5:56 PM

Democratics always say they want ‘a conversation’… slickwillie2001 on September 23, 2010 at 2:11 PM

their ‘conversation’ is a perpetual monologue though…

jimver on September 23, 2010 at 8:32 PM

Hey! What happened to the Facebook link?

nukemhill on September 23, 2010 at 10:58 PM

October September surprise!

alwaysfiredup on September 24, 2010 at 2:46 AM

One of the outcomes of the Teapot Dome Scandal was the Supreme Court case McGrain v. Daugherty which, for the first time, explicitly established Congress’ right to compel testimony. This raises a serious question. Is congress making an authentic effort to investigate the New Black Panther issue? What is blocking them from exercising their right?

KyserS on October 16, 2010 at 1:45 PM