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The latest disclosure deepens Jones’ problems in the Senate, where GOP resistance has all but put his nomination on hold.
An aide to Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said he is “making an assessment of the merits of the claims” so the committee can move forward.
But three months after Obama nominated Jones to the ATF post, the committee has yet to schedule a hearing on the nomination.
Both Democratic senators from Minnesota who serve on the Judiciary Committee remained noncommittal Wednesday.
A spokesman for Al Franken said he “plans to review any information that comes from the Office of Special Counsel’s investigation, along with any additional information provided to the Committee about Mr. Jones.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s spokeswoman Brigit Helgen said, “While Senator Klobuchar is not aware of all the details of the investigation, she hopes it’s resolved soon and would like to see the nomination hearing move forward.”
Paulsen has been with the U.S. attorney’s office for 24 years. Over the past two years, he and his supervisor, Carol Kayser, have been at odds over the prosecution of narcotics and gang cases, sources said, and their working relationship deteriorated to the point where Paulsen felt he was being unfairly targeted.
The allegations being investigated by the Special Counsel were first reported Tuesday in Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., online news publication. It did not name Paulsen.
Cooney said the Minneapolis U.S. attorney’s office, like others around the country, has been ordered by the U.S. attorney general to tighten internal controls and heighten scrutiny after the heavy criticism the attorney general’s office received over the Operation Fast and Furious gun scandal in Arizona.
Previously, assistant U.S. attorneys had more autonomy, Cooney said. “Whenever there is change, there is some resistance,” she said. “It’s common.”
In an interview in December, Jones had characterized complaints about his office as a reaction to his decision to shift priorities away from street-level crimes to more complex crimes involving drug cartels and to time-consuming white-collar crimes and terrorism cases.
In January, the Judiciary Committee received a letter from Donald Oswald, former director of the Minneapolis office of the FBI, who said Jones was “a significant impediment for federal law enforcement to effectively protect the citizens of Minnesota from violent gang, drug and gun activities.”
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