Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Bob Goodlatte, says that he has a “smoking gun” email that proves that Obama’s Justice Department blocked conservative groups from receiving settlement payouts, while at the same time liberal groups were given money, reports Town Hall.

“It is not every day in congressional investigations that we find a smoking gun,” Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., said Tuesday. “Here, we have it.”

According to the internal DOJ emails, officials chose which groups received the settlement funds, and even may have intervened to ensure conservative groups didn’t receive money:

“While Eric Holder was U.S. attorney general, the Justice Department allowed prosecutors to strike agreements compelling big companies to give money to outside groups not connected to their cases to meet settlement burdens. Republican lawmakers long have decried those payments as a “slush fund” that boosted liberal groups, and the Trump DOJ ended the practice earlier this year. […]

In one such email in July 2014, a senior Justice Department official expressed ‘concerns’ about what groups would receive settlement money from Citigroup — saying they didn’t want money going to a group that does ‘conservative property-rights legal services.’

‘Concerns include: a) not allowing Citi to pick a statewide intermediary like the Pacific Legal Foundation (does conservative property-rights legal services),’ the official, whose name is redacted in the email, wrote under the title of  ‘Acting Senior Counselor for Access to Justice.’

The official added that ‘we are more likely to get the right result from a state bar association affiliated entity,’ reports Fox News.”

Pacific Legal Foundation actually responded to the email they were named in, saying the group was “flattered” the Obama administration was concerned about how successful they are.

“We are flattered that the previous administration would be concerned enough about our success vindicating individual liberty and property rights to prevent settlement funds from making their way to Pacific Legal Foundation,” PLF CEO Steven D. Anderson said in a statement, reports Fox News.

As the email clearly shows, “permanent reforms to prevent such abuse are needed,” the legal group said.

Goodlatte is now sponsoring the Stop Settlement Slush Fund Act of 2017 and told the House floor that, “Aiding their political allies was only the half of it. The evidence of the Obama DOJ’s abuse of power shows that [then-Associate Attorney General] Tony West’s team went out of its way to exclude conservative groups.”

“’Can you explain to Tony the best way to allocate some money to an organization of our choosing?’ Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Elizabeth Taylor wrote in one November 2013 email.

Groups who received funding also expressed appreciation for West’s efforts, according to the emails.

‘Now that it has been more than 24 hours for us all to try and digest the Bank of America settlement, I would like to discuss ways we might want to recognize and show appreciation for the Department of Justice and specifically Associate Attorney General Tony West,’ wrote Charles R. Dunlap, executive director of the Indiana Bar, in an August 2014 email.

Dunlap wrote that West ‘by all accounts was the one person most responsible’ for the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts group receiving money.

One person, Bob LeClair, responded to Dunlap’s email by saying, ‘Frankly, I would be willing to have us build a statue [of West] and then we could bow down to this statue each day after we get our $200,000,’ reports Fox News.”

Goodlatte says that these emails are not what Geoffrey Graber’s 2015 testimony said and are in exact contradiction to what actually happened.  Graber, who oversaw the DOJ’s big bank settlement said the department “did not want to be in business of picking and choosing which organizations may or may not receive any funding under the agreement.”

“Internal DOJ documents tell a different story,” Goodlatte said. “They show that contrary to Graber’s sworn testimony, the donation provisions were structured to aid the Obama administration’s political friends and exclude conservative groups.”

In June, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said: “any settlement funds should go first to the victims and then to the American people — not to bankroll third-party special interest groups or the political friends of whoever is in power.”

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BY Isabelle Weeks

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I am a staff writer for DC Statesman and like to report on current events happening in the Trump administration as well as the political world.