Megyn Kelly and GOP activist J. Christian Adams deceptively cited Justice Department official Thomas Perez's testimony to accuse the DOJ of racially motivated corruption in its handling of a voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party. In testimony Kelly avoided mentioning, Perez made clear that the DOJ did, in fact, obtain a judgment against one defendant and also explained that the Bush-era DOJ chose not to pursue a similar case.
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Fox again hypes Adams' unsubstantiated allegations
Kelly again hosts Adams to push allegations based on hearsay. On the July 1 edition of Fox News' America Live, Kelly aired a portion of her interview with Adams, a GOP activist who previously acknowledged on Fox News that his unsubstantiated allegations that the Obama administration improperly dismissed voter-intimidation charges against members of the New Black Panther Party were based on hearsay and charges made by others.
Kelly, Adams omit facts to falsely accuse DOJ of unprecedented and racially motivated corruption
Kelly cites testimony from Asst. AG Perez. During the interview, Kelly read a portion of May 14 testimony by Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in which Perez agreed that "voting rights laws should always be enforced in a race-neutral manner":
KELLY: Perez also testified about whether laws in the Department of Justice are enforced in a race-neutral manner, which is their mandate. He was asked by Commissioner [Todd] Gaziano, "Do you agree that the voting rights laws should always be enforced in a race-neutral manner?" Answer: "Yes, sir." Question: "It would be a problem then if any political appointee or supervising attorney expressed the view that the voting rights laws should never be enforced against blacks or other racial minorities?" Answer: "That is not our practice," Perez says. "We look at the facts and the law."
Adams accuses DOJ of "hostility" toward "white victims." Adams responded to Kelly: "Well, if he's had discussions with all of his people in his shop, he'll know that that's false. There is a hostility in the voting section and in the civil rights division to bringing cases on behalf of white victims for the benefit of national racial minorities. That's a fact. It was on open display in the department." Kelly later said, "Christian Adams says that there is now, in the wake of the Black Panther case being dropped, that there is a mandate at the DOJ -- that they -- that the DOJ doesn't want the world to know about -- that no voting rights case, no voter-intimidation case is going to be prosecuted from this point forward if the defendant is black and the victim is white."
Adams: "[T]o abandon law-abiding citizens and abet wrongdoers constitutes corruption." After Kelly later asked, "Is the Department of Justice corrupt?" Adams claimed, "Well, I think the decision to dismiss this case was corrupt. I don't think the department or the fine people who work there are corrupt, but in this particular instance -- to abandon law-abiding citizens and abet wrongdoers constitutes corruption."
Perez cited Bush-era DOJ decision not to prosecute similar case
Perez: "[T]he Department declined to bring any action for alleged voter intimidation" in 2006. In the very testimony Kelly cited, Perez highlighted a case that completely undermines the notion that the DOJ's decisions in the Black Panthers case were unprecedented or racially motivated. Perez testified that in 2006, the Justice Department "declined to bring any action for alleged voter intimidation" "when three well-known anti-immigrant advocates affiliated with the Minutemen, one of whom was carrying a gun, allegedly intimidated Latino voters at a polling place by approaching several persons, filming them, and advocating and printing voting materials in Spanish." [U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 5/14/10]
Anti-immigrant activist in 2006 case reportedly had "9mm Glock strapped to his side" at polling place. A November 8, 2006, Austin American-Statesman article reported (from the Nexis database): "In Arizona, Roy Warden, an anti-immigration activist with the Minutemen, and a handful of supporters staked out a Tucson precinct and questioned Hispanic voters at the polls to determine whether they spoke English." The article continued:
Armed with a 9mm Glock automatic strapped to his side, Warden said he planned to photograph Hispanic voters entering polls in an effort to identify illegal immigrants and felons.
Arizona Daily Star: "[A]nti-immigrant activist" "stood by with a firearm in a holster." A November 8, 2006, Arizona Daily Star article reported (from Nexis):
A crew of anti-immigrant activists, meanwhile, visited several South Side polling places in what one poll-watch group called a blatant attempt to intimidate Hispanic voters.
Anti-immigrant crusader Russ Dove circulated an English-only petition, while a cameraman filmed the voters he approached and Roy Warden stood by with a firearm in a holster.
Diego Bernal, a staff attorney with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF), said the trio was trying to intimidate Hispanic voters. "A gun, a camera, a clipboard before you even get to the polls - if that's not voter intimidation, what is?" he asked.
Bernal said his group encountered the men at the Precinct 49 polling place at South 12th Avenue and West Michigan Street and began documenting the scene with their cameras. "There was an interesting period where they were taking pictures of us taking pictures of them."
Tucson Citizen: Incident "reported to the FBI." A November 8, 2006, Tucson Citizen article (from Nexis) reported that Mexican American Legal Defense Fund lawyer Diego Bernal "said he reported the incident to the FBI." The article also reported that Pima County elections director Brad Nelson said: "If intimidation or coercion was going on out there, even though it might have been outside the 75-foot limit, it's something we take very seriously, and we'll be looking into it."
Kelly dishonestly quotes Perez's testimony
Kelly: Perez testified that "reasonable people can differ, and this boiled down to a disagreement." During the interview, Kelly asked Adams to respond to Perez's testimony before the Civil Rights Commission. Kelly said:
Tom Perez, in his testimony before the Commission on Civil Rights came out and said, "Look, reasonable people can differ, and this boiled down to a disagreement between the trial lawyers and these other lawyers, Rosenbaum and King." And this is what he said: quote, "Two people with 60 years of experience made the judgment that the evidence didn't sustain the case." He went on to say, "They looked at the entire totality of the circumstances. They reviewed all the evidence that they had before them. And it was the product of, I think, very careful consideration."
On-air text indicated that Kelly edited out portions of Perez's testimony:
Adams: "Reasonable people cannot differ ... when men stand in front of polls with weapons." Adams responded by attacking Perez over the edited statement, calling it "false" and claiming:
Reasonable people cannot differ that when men stand in front of polls with weapons and prevent people from getting in to vote that there's any difference of opinion on that. That is sacred in America. The polling place is sacred. That's what separates this country and makes it exceptional from other countries in the world and other countries in history. For someone to say something like that -- who is an elected, appointed official in this administration -- should give you chills.
But Perez noted DOJ's decision to proceed with default judgment against the man with a weapon
Perez: "[T]hey made the judgment on the merits that we should proceed with the default judgment against the gentleman who was -- who had the stick." Adams' attack is completely undermined by comments Perez made that were edited out by Kelly. Perez specifically discussed the DOJ's decision in the Black Panther case to "proceed with the default judgment against the gentleman who was -- who had the stick and that the evidence didn't sustain the case against the national party or the head of the national party for the reasons that we have discussed." From Perez's testimony:
And, again, two people with 60 years of experience, both of whom had worked in the Voting Section -- so they weren't new to voting rights issues. They were working -- they knew -- they were conversant with the issues, conversant with the case.
And they made the judgment on the merits that we should proceed with the default judgment against the gentleman who was -- who had the stick and that the evidence didn't sustain the case against the national party or the head of the national party for the reasons that we have discussed.
Adams is a GOP activist who admitted he relied on hearsay to back up allegations
Adams is a longtime conservative activist reportedly hired by Bush appointee who politicized the Justice Department. A December 2, 2009, article on the legal news website Main Justice reported that Adams "was hired in 2005 by then-Civil Rights Division political appointee Bradley Schlozman, according to a person familiar with the situation" and that "Schlozman was found in this joint investigation of the Justice Department's Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility to have violated civil service rules by improperly taking political and ideological affiliations into account when making career attorney hires." The article also reported that Adams volunteered with a Republican group that "trains lawyers to fight on the front lines of often racially tinged battles over voting rights."
DOJ IG "found that Schlozman considered political and ideological affiliations when hiring and taking other personnel actions relating to career attorneys, in violation of Department policy and federal law." A July 2008 report from the Department of Justice Inspector General's Office and the Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that Schlozman "considered political and ideological affiliations when hiring and taking other personnel actions relating to career attorneys in violation of Department policy and federal law."
Adams: "I don't know. I wasn't there." As Media Matters documented, in the portion of the interview that aired on June 30, Adams' allegations relied on hearsay and charges made by others, rather than firsthand knowledge. Adams repeatedly acknowledged that he was not present to witness the events he cited to back up his claims. For instance, Adams alleged that DOJ attorney Chris Coates "actually threw" a memo at attorney Steve Rosenbaum for not reading memos on the Black Panther case. When Kelly asked, "What was the response?" Adams responded: "I don't know. I wasn't there." Kelly also said that the Justice Department told Fox that Adams "distorts the facts and makes baseless allegations to promote his ... agenda." In addition, Kelly reported on June 30, "Another source close to the case telling one of our producers that Christian Adams is a conservative who has made willful misstatements in this interview."