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Leahy, Conyers Want Info On DOJ Paying Gonzales' Legal Bills

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) want Attorney General Michael Mukasey to give them the details on how much the Justice Department is spending to defend former AG Alberto Gonzales.

Gonzales has been sued by eight individuals who applied for, but were turned down, positions with DOJ's Honor Program and Summer Law Intern Program. An internal investigation found that several former high-ranking DOJ officials may have improperly sought to block the hiring of liberal applicants for these prestigious entry-level positions inside Justice.

As with previous cases where former officials are sued over job-related actions, the Justice Department is paying up to $24,000 per month for Gonzales' private attorneys, according to media reports. The two Democrats want information on the agreement between DOJ and Gonzales over the legal fees.

"Following the publication of the Inspector General [Glenn Fine's] report, several individuals whose applications for employment through these programs were turned down during the period that the hiring process was improperly politicized have filed suit against Mr. Gonzales and others who held senior positions at the Department at the time,'" Leahy and Conyers wrote. "Recent press accounts indicated that the Department of Justice has decided to pay up to $24,000 a month for a private attorney to represent Mr. Gonzales in connection with this lawsuit. As far as we can tell, the Department has thus far failed to confirm or publicly account for any aspect of this arrangement."

The two chairmen want to know who at DOJ approved the agreement with Gonzales, and why, if IG Fine found that the alleged politiicization of the hiring process may have violated DOJ policy, "did the Department determine that the conduct at issue in this lawsuit was within the scope of Mr. Gonzales’s employment and that his representation is in the interest of the United States? "

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