Five Democrats in the House of Representatives called on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to appoint an outside counsel in a 2002 case related to lobbyist Jack Abramoff today. In their letter, they asked for an independent outside counsel to determine whether senior Justice Department officials interfered with a criminal investigation by demoting a U.S. Attorney and suppressing a national security analysis in an effort to protect Mr. Abramoff.
In 2002, Acting U.S. Attorney for Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Fred Black was demoted after securing a subpoena in a criminal investigation of Mr. Abramoff. The same year, the U.S. Justice Department declined to act on a post-Sept. 11 immigration report on the Islands. The report would have had negative effects on Abramoff's clients.
In October 2005, the same representatives requested an independent investigation of whether Mr. Abramoff inappropriately used his influence in either case. They received a response from the Department saying the Inspector General would forward their request to the appropriate prosecutors.
In today's letter, the representatives called this response "inadequate" and wrote "It is neither appropriate nor feasible for the Department to fully and freely investigate itself in this serious matter."