A new Justice Department report concludes that politics illegally influenced the hiring of career prosecutors and immigration judges, and largely lays the blame on top aides to former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Monday's report singles out the department's former White House liaison, Monica Goodling, for violating federal law and Justice Department policy by discriminating against job applicants who weren't Republican or conservative loyalists.
The 140-page report does not indicate whether Goodling or former Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson could face any charges. None of those involved in the discriminatory hiring still work at Justice, meaning they will avoid any department penalties.
However, Justice investigators said that Goodling, at least, may lose her license to practice law as a result of the findings.
Gonzales was largely unaware of the hiring decisions by two of his most trusted aides. The report said his aides' decisions weeded out Democrats and that Goodling also rejected at least one lesbian job applicant.
The report marks the culmination of a yearlong investigation by Justice's Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility into whether Republican politics were driving hiring polices at the nation's premier law enforcement agency that is expected to be above partisan politics.
The investigation is one of several that examine accusations of White House political meddling within the Justice Department. Those accusations were initially driven by the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in late 2006 and culminated with Gonzales' resignation under fire as attorney general last September.
The man who replaced Gonzales, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, said he is "of course disturbed" by the findings.
"I have said many times, both to members of the public and to department employees, it is neither permissible nor acceptable to consider political affiliations in the hiring of career department employees," Mukasey said in a statement shortly after the report was released Monday morning. "And I have acted, and will continue to act, to ensure that my words are translated into reality so that the conduct described in this report does not occur again at the department."