In a 19-page opinion filed last week, hours before President Donald Trump’s inauguration, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew Hanen excoriated then-President Barack Obama’s Department of Justice for its “nothing short of stunning” deception.
Hanen based this critical judgment on the department’s history of flagrantly misleading him.
Two years ago, for instance, the department’s attorneys had sworn in Hanen’s courtroom that they would not delay and/or ease deportations for illegal immigrants — and that they would instead wait patiently for the judge to decide whether he approved of Obama’s executive decision to implement de facto amnesty.
The lawyers lied, and their lies were eventually exposed, leading to a massive showdown in May of 2016, when the judge slammed the DOJ for making misrepresentations on “multiple occasions,” including during “the very first hearing this Court held,” as quoted by a Breitbart report Monday.
But even after that verbal lashing, the attorneys continued to lie: “In July 2016 … the federal government had once again violated the federal court’s injunction prohibiting the implementation of President Obama’s executive amnesty plan,” Breitbart reported.
These lies eventually led to Hanen imposing severe sanctions on the DOJ.
Last week, however, Hanen withdrew some of his sanctions while still making it abundantly clear that he did not approve of the department’s behavior. And while he backed away from some of the harshest terms he’s previously used to describe DOJ behavior, and even allowed the possibility that some of the misleading statements DOJ lawyers had made had not harmed the states that were suing the Obama administration, his anger was evident.
“This is clearly no way to run the nation’s law firm,” Hanen wrote in the ruling.
Dale Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of the Immigration Reform Law Institute, was not exactly pleased that Hanen had relented.
“The DOJ’s behavior in this ongoing case, like the (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans) program itself, has been completely shameless, totally unethical, and against American principles of fairness,” he said. “Although we praise Judge Hanen’s fulsome criticism of the outgoing Obama attorneys, we’re very disappointed he decided to withdraw sanctions against them.”
Wilcox had a point. The Department of Justice deserved more than mere sanctions for its lousy behavior. That said, a new attorney general is on his way in, so perhaps it was worth it to give the department a break.
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