Eleanor Clift: Obama Justice Department Let Tom DeLay 'Off the Hook' in Spirit of Bipartisanship

August 17th, 2010 9:03 AM

The Justice Department has dropped its case against former House Majority Leader, Tom Delay, and Newsweek's Eleanor Clift is in mourning. She just can't accept the fact that there was no substance to the charges against DeLay and ascribes the dropping of the case to the Obama Justice Department trying to score points with Republicans in the interest of bipartisanship. Clift also manages to smear the late former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens in her angst over the dropped charges:

The Justice Department’s decision to let former House majority leader Tom DeLay off the hook and end the six-year-long investigation that drove him out of Washington at the peak of his power should win the Obama administration some points with Republicans, if not Democrats. This is the second high-profile Republican that Attorney General Eric Holder has vindicated, the other being the late senator Ted Stevens, whose corruption case Holder declined last year to prosecute.

Actually Ted Stevens was prosecuted and convicted...but only because of misconduct on the part of the prosecutors. As a result, once the misconduct was discovered,  the Justice Department was forced to set aside the verdict and throw out the indictment. Here is what the federal judge who formally dismissed the case had to say:

Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, speaking in a slow and deliberate manner that failed to conceal his anger, said that in 25 years on the bench, he had “never seen mishandling and misconduct like what I have seen” by the Justice Department prosecutors who tried the Stevens case.

Judge Sullivan’s lacerating 14-minute speech, focusing on disclosures that prosecutors had improperly withheld evidence in the case, virtually guaranteed reverberations beyond the morning’s dismissal of the verdict that helped end Mr. Stevens’s Senate career. 

So how weak was the case against DeLay? So weak that the Justice Department barely bothered to investigate the case according to DeLay:

"They didn't have anything," DeLay boasted. "The case was so weak I never did meet with anyone from the Justice Department and never appeared before the grand jury."

However, the obvious political motivation of the cases against both DeLay and Steven's hasn't kept Clift from continuing to grumble:

The charges against DeLay centered on his ties to Abramoff, and so it is curious that DeLay gets to walk, while Abramoff spent the last two-and-a-half years in jail. He was released in June, and will serve out the remaining months of his sentence in a halfway house. The official Justice Department position is that they don’t talk about cases they don’t prosecute, but reading between the lines, the decision to forego prosecution is likely both substantive and political.

Clift also implies that DeLay was let "off the hook" mainly because of the big-hearted Obama Administration in the spirit of bipartisanship:

The case against DeLay probably wasn’t a slam dunk, and politically, the Obama administration, struggling to retain some of the bipartisan and post-partisan luster that carried Obama into office, probably doesn’t have the stomach to send a former House Republican leader to the hoosegow. 

Clift signs off with yet another shot at DeLay by suggesting that he was somehow lucky to get his case dropped so he shouldn't be celebrating:

I only wish DeLay would refrain from doing a victory lap in the media. He did a lot in Washington that he shouldn’t be proud of, and he’s just another guy getting off from charges of white-collar crime.

Or maybe we should thank Tom DeLay for pointing out that the case against him was so weak/non-existent that the Justice Department had no choice but to drop it. The desire for bipartisanship played no part in it despite Clift's fantasies.