After a visit by Attorney General Eric Holder to the Justice Department Voting Section yesterday, a reporter attempting to ask Holder questions about the visit was threatened by one of Holder’s bodyguards. Holder was visiting the Voting Section of the DOJ to pose for photographs with the attorneys who will be enforcing federal election law over the last two weeks of the presidential campaign.
The photos are expected to be delivered to the staff with a personalized note from the attorney general.
Media Research Center reporter Joe Schoffstall identified himself as media and attempted to gain access to the photo session and conversations between Holder and the DOJ election attorneys in the 7th floor conference room at 1800 G Street in Washington, D.C. This satellite office is located in a non-governmental building in northwest D.C.
Schoffstall was denied entry to the event by a Justice Department employee.
After the event, the reporter asked Holder questions as the attorney general left the building.
“Mr. Attorney General, do you think is appropriate to be taking pictures with DOJ lawyers who will be enforcing election laws during President Obama’s reelection?” Schoffstall asks Holder, who was just inches away. “Do you think that is appropriate Mr. Holder?”
Holder does not answer, and instead turns his head away from the reporter as he heads to a waiting black SUV.
After Schoffstall’s questions are ignored, and Holder is in the SUV, an unidentified uniformed security officer in Holder’s detail aggressively confronts and threatens Schoffstall.
“Hey sir, they gonna be nice to you, I’m not,” says the officer, as he shunts Schoffstalll backwards across the public sidewalk on G Street. The officer refers to the bodyguards wearing suits as being “nice,” while he expresses the contrary intention.
Schoffstall replies that “this is public sidewalk,” as the uniformed officer continues to confront the reporter and push him backwards.
“The man is ushering you on to a different direction, that’s what I’m gonna make sure you do,” says the officer, now in Schoffstall’s face.
“This is a public sidewalk,” Schoffstall insists. After shunting Schoffstall backwards off the sidewalk, the officer says, “It’s not a public sidewalk now; you’re standing on federal government property.”
Schoffstall responds, “You pushed me back on federal government property. This is a public sidewalk, I can ask him a question.” The officer’s bluster was also factually inaccurate. The building at 1800 G Street is not federal government property and is instead owned by a private entity. The federal agencies merely lease space there. No federal agency leases the space where Schoffstall was standing when the officer incorrectly said he was standing on federal government property.
Apparently Attorney General Holder doesn’t like questions, especially unexpected ones.