Loose threads in the curious case (4)

In the first part of this series I posted my correspondence with former United States Attorney for Minnesota Andrew Luger. Mr. Luger’s letter of August 22, 2016, to Omar attorney Jean Brandl played an oversize role in terminating the controversy over the curious case of Ilhan Omar.

Brandl, by the way, was the Omar ally who responded on Omar’s behalf to my original inquiry to the Omar campaign in August 2016. I knew Brandl as one of the criminal attorneys who represented a defendant in the case brought against the “Minnesota men” who sought to join ISIS. In her response to me Brandl passed on Omar’s accusations of bigotry and directed me to address further inquiries to her. (I did but got no response.) I think she was supposed to scare me off.

The Luger letter to Brandl turned up in the file in the Minnesota campaign finance board investigation of Omar as the subject of Carla Kjellberg’s testimony.

I asked Mr. Luger if he ever sent out other such letters and whether he reviewed any documents before announcing that Omar was not under investigation by his office. He responded that he declined to answer my questions (“I will pass on this”).

If our United States Attorney’s Office is in the business of giving out such letters, I’d like to get one of my own. Former Dakota County District Court Judge Erica MacDonald is the current United States Attorney for Minnesota. I wrote Public Affairs officer Tasha Rose Zerna to ask Ms. MacDonald about Andrew Luger’s letter:

I write for the site Power Line. I have been writing for Power Line about Ilhan Omar’s plural marriages and related issues since Omar won the DFL primary against Phyllis Kahn in August 2016. I was the first of many journalists who received a non-response and accusation of bigotry via attorney Jean Brandl when I asked Omar about it that August.

On August 22 [2016] Andy Luger wrote a letter in his capacity as US Attorney to Jean Brandl advising that Omar was not under investigation for immigration fraud and that she was not under investigation. The letter was widely reported at the time and I didn’t think much of it.

I found the letter again in the state campaign finance board investigative file on Omar….Reading the deposition of Carla Kjellberg, also in the board investigative file, I understood for the first time how important Andy’s letter was in tamping down the stories about Omar’s marriages and related issues. I wrote Andy [this past Sunday] to ask if he reviewed any documents before sending the letter and if he had ever sent a similar letter announcing that someone was not under investigation by his office. He responded…that he would prefer not to respond (“I will pass on this”).

It seems to me that the public is owed a substantive response to these simple questions. I am seeking a response from Ms. MacDonald in her capacity as US Attorney.

Thank you for your courtesies and consideration.

Scott Johnson

Ms. Zerna responded:

Scott,

Thank you for your inquiry. Ms. MacDonald was sworn in as U.S. Attorney on June 11, 2018, 15 months after former U.S. Attorney Luger’s resignation. U.S. Attorney MacDonald is not aware of Mr. Luger’s deliberative process in drafting the below referenced August 22, 2016 letter.

Thank you,

Tasha

Tasha Rose Zerna | Public Affairs
U.S. Attorney’s Office

I followed up to inquire more specifically (1) whether the office sends letters such as Luger’s to Brandl as a matter of routine and (2) whether Omar is under investigation now. I asked Ms. Zerna: Can you be any more forthcoming? She responded:

Scott,

No such letters have been sent by U.S. Attorney MacDonald. Regarding your other questions, DOJ generally does not confirm the existence of or otherwise comment about ongoing investigations. As a result, I can’t respond to or comment on any questions about the existence or non-existence of any investigation.

Thank you,

Tasha

That’s what I thought. What we have here is another loose thread (or two) in the curious case.

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