Christopher Coates takes the stand, cont’d

Christopher Coates is the former head of the Department of Justice voting rights section who defied the order of his superiors at the department to keep his mouth shut regarding the department’s treatment of the New Black Panther Party case. Coates testified to the Civil Rights Commission that the NBPP case suffered from the department’s belief in the racially based administration of justice.
At key points Coates took issue with the previous testimony of Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Thomas Perez, though he carefully avoided any assertion that Perez’s testimony might have been willfully false. The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper adds a footnote to Coates’s dramatic testimony; Andrew McCarthy comments on it at NRO. Halper writes:

Jen Rubin previously reported in The Weekly Standard that an April 2010 letter documented Coates’s key allegations. The Weekly Standard has learned that the letter came from Coates himself and was sent to Jody Hunt, director of federal programs. Hunt participated in the briefing of Civil Rights head Thomas Perez on May 13, 2010, which Coates and other members of the [NBPP case] trial team attended. At that briefing, Coates’s concerns were related to Perez. Perez nevertheless testified under oath before the Commission that hostility toward race neutral enforcement of civil rights laws was news to him.

The powers-that-be in the department did their best to keep Coates from testifying last week:

In addition, sources now tell The Weekly Standard that after 11 pm on September 23, the night before Coates was to testify before the Commission, the same individual, Jody Hunt, sent Coates a letter advising him again not to testify. Only 6 hours earlier Rep. Frank Wolf had sent [attorney general] Eric Holder a letter warning him that Coates was protected under federal whistleblower laws. Jen Rubin contacted the Justice Department for comment. Spokesman Tracy Schmaler’s only reply: “The letter speaks for itself.” She did not respond to a follow up question as to whether DOJ would take disciplinary action against Coates. Coates could not be reached for comment.

Halper sums up:

Coates puts his explosive allegations about unequal enforcement of civil rights laws in writing. The same official who gets the letter sits in a briefing with Perez when the allegations are repeated. And then at literally the 11th hour before Coates testifies he sends out a letter which makes one last stab at keeping the story under wraps. Jen Rubin’s sources tell us that it’s not remotely possible that all of this would have occurred without the express knowledge and direction of senior DOJ officials.

Halper adds an update to his post with a comment from Rep. Frank Wolf (R., Va.):

“If, in fact, Assistant Attorney General Perez was aware of Mr. Coates’ concerns prior to testifying under oath before the Commission, this is a shocking development. It would indicate the extent to which this department has misled the public about the equal enforcement of federal voting rights law. I am determined to stay with this until the department comes clean with the American people.”

In a Republican administration, this story would be on the front page of every serious newspaper and heads would already have rolled. The underlying Department of Justice story involves a racially based double standard that cannot be publicly avowed, admitted or defended. There is of course another kind of double standard operating in the mainstream media that keeps this story under wraps, and we all know what it is.

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