March 25th, 2008
04:21 PM ET
12 years ago

Justice and State Departments join forces on passport probe

 The security of the passport files of the top presidential candidates was breached, the State Department said.

The security of the passport files of the top presidential candidates was breached, the State Department said.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The Justice Department Tuesday disclosed its prosecutors are now assisting the State Department Inspector General in the investigation into the breaching of passport files of the three leading presidential candidates by State Department contractors.

The involvement of Justice Department lawyers appears to represent a shift in the agency's position since last Friday when Attorney General Michael Mukasey indicated no plan to join the investigation until the State Department I.G. looked into the matter, and requested assistance.

Mukasey added Friday that in the event someone walked into the Justice Department "with a box full of evidence", that could change his stance.

"After the Attorney General's remarks on Friday, Justice Department prosecutors met with officials from the State Department Inspector General's office on this matter, and are coordinating with the Office of Inspector General on its investigative efforts," said Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr. "Due to the ongoing nature of these efforts, the Department will have no further comment at this time," Carr said.

A knowledgeable official who asked not to be identified because of the pending probe said the State Department had initiated the contact and follow-up meeting with Justice prosecutors some time after Mukasey spoke. The official said the guidance requested by State officials does not constitute what could be described as a "joint investigation" between the two Executive Departments.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack had said Monday that the Justice Department had an "open invitation to be involved in the process" and that it would be "up to the Department of Justice as to what sort of involvement they will have."

Several members of Congress have urged the Justice Department launch a criminal investigation to determine whether charges should be brought.

The latest such call came Tuesday from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, and the panel's ranking Republican Arlen Specter, R-Penn.

"The Justice Department should not wait to be handed 'a box full of evidence' as you said at your recent briefing, before determining whether Federal laws were broken," Leahy and Specter said in a joint letter to Mukasey. "We both strongly believe that our government has a duty to protect the private information of its citizens," the Senators said.

The State Department has confirmed that contract personnel had peered into Sen. Barack Obama's file on three separate occasions, and had made unauthorized entry once each into the passport files of Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain.

–CNN's Terry Frieden and Elise Labott

Filed under: Uncategorized
soundoff (57 Responses)
  1. bond

    How about we investigate why the Clintons continuously lie so much to the American people?

    March 25, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  2. Jean

    Why won't you post my revealing comments online as you have done for everyone else? I have been comment on the truth, that is this bunch of CNN reporters need to focus on reporting objectively when it comes to issues dealing with Hillary and Obama.

    Miami Gardens

    March 25, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  3. Lucas, Nashville TN

    Um, yes. I hate Hillary THAT MUCH, and I would rather see McCain if she is nominated. Her only hope is Obama a VP to keep me loyal. I will go in that booth and push every button for every office EXCEPT PRESIDENT if her name is on top of the ballot. I will abstain from handing her entitled demeanor a reward.

    March 25, 2008 09:11 pm at 9:11 pm |
  4. mm,ma

    Obama played the race card from day one. If you listen to any of his speeches he is the one to bring up the color. He also brings up stories of African people rather than stories about americans. He was never in touch with people and never will be, looking at how arrogant he is.
    And as one of the above said – Good night and Good luck to America.

    March 25, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  5. JoAnne

    The CNN political staff continues to slam Senator Clinton, calling her a liar, while letting Obama go free on the lies he told regarding Rev Wrights horrendous statements, he did infact admit to hearing less than favourable spew from the Revernd's mouth. He has been brain washed for 20 years, along with his wife and children, that I believe is why Mrs. Obama stated "only now am I proud to be an American". Hah, where do you think that came from? I am horrified by the amount of anit Clinton politics you people point out. Get fair. Slam Obama the way in which you slam Senator Clinton everyday! I dare you! You are afraid because he is black.
    PS- this race is not over, let the people vote. Quit trying to sway the public like it's over and Mrs. Clinton has lost. She has not! She will prevail, then you can wipe the egg off your biased faces. We cannot afford to loose in the fall. Obama will not win if he runs in the National Election. I would never vote for him.

    March 25, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  6. Bill, Covington

    Reading this stuff is a great way to enjoy a good laugh.
    There are those that appear to think that the Clinton woman is the next best thing to Mother theresa:
    Then there is the other group, it would appear that they are of the opinion that the Obama is the long awaited 12th imam.
    the most disturbing part of all this is: These sickos get to choose the leader of our great nation.
    Be carefull what you wish for.

    March 25, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  7. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    Let's spend another billion and endless man hours investigating what they already know.

    Fire those who broke the security rules, hire Iraqi veterans in their place and move on.

    Bush Administration-Ineptitude.

    March 25, 2008 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
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