The head of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration was called in to speak with Attorney General Eric Holder and told to get in line with the Obama administration's policy on lessening sentencing for drug offenders, according to a report from the Huffington Post.
DEA chief Michele Leonhart has taken public stands in recent months against the administration's rhetoric on marijuana legalization as well as efforts by the White House and the Justice Department to ease punshiments for those covicted of federal drug crimes. HuffPo's Ryan Reilly and Ryan Grim report that Leonhart was "called in" by Holder for a "one [on] one chat about her recent insubordination." Leonhart seems to have gotten the message. Here more from their story:
Leonhart was responding to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who asked about the importance of mandatory minimums. Some law enforcement groups oppose the Smarter Sentencing Act, a bipartisan bill that would roll back the length of certain mandatory minimum prison terms. Leonhart emphasized the importance of mandatory minimums, leaving the impression she opposed changes to the current sentencing structure, which gives federal prosecutors huge leverage over defendants.
Justice Department concerns about Leonhart were heightened when, after her testimony, a DEA spokeswoman would not say whether Leonhart endorsed changes mandatory minimums, telling The Huffington Post that the DEA administrator's testimony would "have to speak for itself."
The concerns led to a conversation between Holder and Leonhart, according to a person familiar with the discussion. Leonhart told her boss there had been a misunderstanding.
The DEA sent The Huffington Post a follow-up statement a week after the first, expressing Leonhart's public support for reforms made by Holder that rolled back the deployment of harsh mandatory minimum sentences against certain drug offenders.
In a speech the other day to state attorneys general, the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder, offered an ideal job description for himself and his state counterparts: “not merely to use our legal system to settle disputes and punish those who have done wrong, but to answer the kinds of fundamental questions—about fairness and equality—that have always determined who we are and who we aspire to be.” This is what “all justice professionals are called” to do, said Holder, leaving us to wonder what we the mere people are supposed to do.
Last month the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination of Debo Adegbile to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The vote broke along party lines, 10-to-8. Over the weekend Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania became the first Democrat to oppose Adegbile. “I will not vote to confirm the nominee,” he said. A cloture vote scheduled for Monday has (because of the snowstorm) been postponed to Wednesday. With Casey’s announcement, Adegbile can no longer be assured that Democratic senators will uniformly support him. Indeed, the question now is whether other Democrats will follow Casey’s lead. It would take six Democrats including Casey to vote against and defeat the nomination.
Another reporter is joining the Obama administration. Emily Pierce, the deputy editor of Roll Call, will be joining the office of public affairs at the Department of Justice, the federal agency headed by Attorney General Eric Holder.
Pierce was welcomed to her new position by Brian Fallon, who works in that DOJ office and who used to be Chuck Schumer's spokesman in the Senate.
"Can't wait to welcome @emilyprollcall to @TheJusticeDept Office of Public Affairs later this month. She is a true pro," Fallon said on Twitter.
In November, the Obama Justice Department dropped a lawsuit aimed at stopping a school voucher program in Louisiana. The Louisiana Scholarship Program is intended to give students in failing public schools a chance to attend better schools, including private ones. Justice tried to block the program on the basis that it may have violated a 1975 federal desegregation order.
Bobby Jindal is outraged over a Department of Justice lawsuit against a Louisiana school voucher program. The suit, which he (repeatedly) calls “cynical, immoral, and hypocritical” and the “worst misuse” of federal desegregation laws, aims to stop a program that allows poor students in failing schools to enter a lottery for a voucher to attend a better school.
Valerie Jarrett, a close adviser to President Obama, said that Eric Holder is "definitely" not stepping down and that he'll be attorney general "for quite a while."
"One of the things that you learn in this business is, don't listen to rumors. You can take it from me. Obviously, I know the president pretty well. And I know the attorney general very well. and he will be in his position for quite a while."
Yesterday evening, it was announced that Attorney General Eric Holder appointed two prosecutors to investigate alleged national security leaks to the media from the White House. But now two leading Senate Republicans are urging President Obama to appoint independent "outside special counsel" to investigate leaks, instead.
A new regulation from the Justice Department will require “public-access swimming pools across the country to install handicapped-accessible ramps and lifts or face a fine of up to $100,000,” the Hill reports. This regulation could cost “hotels and other organizations . . . to spend up to $9,000 to stay in compliance with the rule.”
When the White House announced last week that it would not comply with the requirements of the War Powers Resolution because the Libya operation does not involve "hostilities," eyebrows arched in curiosity. Many observers questioned the administration's conclusion that America's involvement in the Libya operation no longer fit within the statute's term "hostilities."
Thirty-four Republican senators will send a letter to Barack Obama, calling on the president "to finally end the DOJ’s unwarranted investigations of CIA interrogators, whose work led to one of the most defining moments of the Global War on Terror."