The office of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) says the Wall Street Journal story suggesting the congressman improperly blocked a pick for US Attorney is no story at all.
In a statement given to TPMmuckraker, Lewis’ office says all he did was offer his opinions in the case of Sally Yates, a Georgia prosecutor whose name was cut from a list of candidates sent to the White House by the state’s Democratic congressmen.
Yates previously prosecuted a longtime friend of Lewis, Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell — a fact Lewis’ office says had nothing to do with “any reservations” he raised.
Lewis called White House Counsel Greg Craig in early summer to object to Yates, lifting the objection in August after media inquiries, the Journal reported.
The congressman’s office flatly disputes the Journal’s suggestion that he withdrew “any” objection to Yates because of reporters’ inquires. It says that because the US Attorney selection process is “inherently political,” Lewis did nothing wrong.
Our timeline on the story is here.
Here’s the full statement from Brenda Jones, the congressman’s communications director:
The appointment process in any sector—government, academia, in the church or even within the family structure —is inherently political. Is it inappropriate for politicians to be involved in politics? Don’t think so. Members of Congress are often asked for their opinions on candidates seeking presidential appointments. This process was no different.
When ten names were sent to the entire Democratic delegation for consideration, Sally Yates’ name did not emerge from those discussions as one of the three that were sent to the White House. The entire delegation agreed on the slate of names that were their suggested picks for the President. But in the final analysis, the White House can choose whomever it desires to serve as appointees. Members of Congress simply offer their opinions and suggestions. That is all Congressman Lewis did. End of story.
I followed up by asking if the office had any comment on the two calls to the White House reported by the Journal. Jones answered:
Any phone calls Rep. Lewis made were made in confidence, as is the practice in any employment process. Any reservations that may have been raised about Ms. Yates do not relate to the fact that she prosecuted former Mayor Bill Campbell and any withdrawal of comments made were not a response to inquiries by the Wall Street Journal.