Will DOJ Charge Zimmerman? 'Not Something the President Involves Himself In'

July 16, 2013 - 6:35 AM

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White House spokesman Jay Carney (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - "Career prosecutors" at the Justice Department -- without any input from the White House -- will decide whether to file criminal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer acquitted of murdering Trayvon Martin, says a presidential spokesman.

"This is a decision made by the Justice Department, by career prosecutors, and all questions about how that process is undertaken should be directed there. And that is not something the president involves himself in," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Monday. "As the Justice Department said yesterday (Sunday), they first acknowledged last year that they have an open investigation into Trayvon Martin's death. And they are continuing to evaluate that evidence."

Asked when President Obama last talked to Attorney General Eric Holder about the Zimmerman case, Carney said, "I'm not sure that I know the answer to that question. I don't believe that this is something the president views as a discussion he would have with the attorney general, especially on the substance of the case or decisions the Department of Justice would make. That is something the Department of Justice makes. And they (DOJ officials) have talked about this and put out statements about it. And they will make assessments and decisions on the merits and on the evidence."

While the White House insists that President Obama has nothing to do with the decisions made by his own Justice Department, some people don't buy it.

Patrick J. Buchanan, a leading conservative, says President Obama should "exhibit a little moral courage" by "directing his Justice Department to halt this scavenger hunt for a 'hate crime.'"

In his syndicated column, Buchanan wrote: "If Barack Obama and Eric Holder capitulate to Al Sharpton's demand for 'Plan B' and the NAACP's demand for a second trial of George Zimmerman for a crime of which he has been acquitted, most Americans will come to believe this is no search for justice, but a drive for racial retribution and revenge. And they will be right.

"End this persecution of George Zimmerman, Mr. President. Shut it down."

Attorney General Eric Holder is one of three cabinet secretaries who will be in Florida Tuesday, addressing the NAACP, which is demanding that the Justice Department charge Zimmerman with civil rights violations. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan also will speak to the liberal group, and "gun violence" will be among the topics.

Asked if the White House is feeling pressure from civil rights leaders to bring a civil rights case against Zimmerman, Carney said cases must be brought on the merits -- and the merits will be evaluated by professionals at the Justice Department:

"And the president expects, as in every case, that the process will be handled in the way it should be, at the Department of Justice, and certainly not here."

Carney deflected questions about the Zimmerman verdict by referring reporters to the president's earlier statement, in which Obama called the death of Trayvon Martin  a tragedy for his family, the community and the country.

"Again, I would point you to the president's statement for his reaction to the verdict and his feeling -- and his statement about the verdict and the broader issues that he thinks we might all reflect upon. He will not comment on a Department of Justice investigation or on the decision that the Department of Justice will make about how to proceed, if to proceed," Carney said.

Holder on Monday said the Justice Department will follow "the facts and the law" as it reviews evidence to see whether federal criminal charges are warranted."