Pamela Karlan quietly quits Justice Department amid attacks over ‘unethical’ $1million salary


WASHINGTON — Stanford University law professor Pamela Karlan, best known for her 2019 testimony in support of the impeachment of then-President Donald Trump, quietly quit the Justice Department this month as a conservative group escalated attacks on an “unethical” agreement, in which she continued to earn nearly $1 million a year at Stanford while working for the government.

Karlan joined the department on February 8, 2021, shortly after President Biden’s inauguration, and served about 17 months as the assistant assistant attorney general for civil rights before departing on July 1 with little fanfare.

Karlan’s role was due to last at least through August 22 and possibly into September, meaning she stepped down about two months ahead of schedule. She left the office a business day before the American Accountability Foundation department filed documents pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act request, which drew more attention to her unusual salary rules.

A Justice Department official told the Post that Karlan updated her departure date in March to allow more time to prepare for the school year, but declined to share documentation.

Tom Jones, president of the American Accountability Foundation, said the timing of Karlan’s departure — which was not announced except with an update on the tenses of her DOJ biography — was odd given his group’s escalating campaign against her.

“As the old cliché goes, you can’t serve two masters. Pamela Karlan was a salaried employee at Stanford University when she was supposed to be serving the Justice Department,” said Jones, a former Republican staffer on Capitol Hill.

A Justice Department official told the Post that the Stanford professor updated her departure date in March.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

“President Biden and [Attorney General] Merrick Garland enabled this unethical sweetheart deal to prosecute Americans. We are glad that Pamela Karlan quietly disappeared from the DOJ following our investigation into this extremist Trump impeachment witness.”

Jones’ group FOIA requested documents on Karlan’s appointment on May 26 — and the next day caught attack website expressing her criticism of an audit of Arizona’s 2020 election and her opinion based on a Supreme Court anti-discrimination ruling based in the workplace slammed into sexual orientation or gender identity in school.

Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Texas), who is preparing an official request for additional information about Karlan’s tenure, hailed her departure.

“How can Biden’s DOJ justify hiring Pamela Karlan for a top position in the civil rights department?” said Nehls, who questioned the department’s recent actions on state election laws and transgender policies.

“This is corruption at its finest — and it’s not the first time the Biden DOJ has been guilty of it,” the congressman said. “Biden wants you to believe that his DOJ is an impartial institution serving the justice system. The truth is that his DOJ is the left’s politically motivated Gestapo appointed to accelerate their radical agenda and root out the conservative opposition.”

Nehls questioned whether Karlan was being paid such a high salary by Stanford for “unknown reasons” related to the donors’ political agenda.

The July 5 FOIA document production threatened a fresh round of attention to the fact that Karlan continued to earn one of the most lucrative US teaching salaries while directing federal politics.

The new documents clarified that Karlan actually headed the department’s civil rights division in the early days of the Biden administration. At the time, the department was investigating aspects of then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s COVID-19 nursing home scandal. The department completed this investigation in July 2021.

The Senate confirmed Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke as the department's head in May 2021.
The Senate confirmed Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Kristen Clarke as the department’s head in May 2021.
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, file

“I hereby approve Pamela S. Karlan’s detail on the position of Assistant Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Civil Rights for the period from February 8, 2021 to August 22, 2022,” reads a document prepared for acting Attorney General Monty became Wilkinson’s signature. “Furthermore, I hereby authorize Pamela S. Karlan to exercise supervisory authority over the Civil Rights Division and to exercise the responsibilities and functions of Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division to the fullest extent permitted by law.”

The Senate confirmed Kristen Clarke as head of the Civil Rights Division in May 2021, ending Karlan’s leadership of the department, although she remained the deputy.

According to a disclosure form filed in April 2021, Karlan earned a staggering $1.19 million for her work at Stanford over a 15-month period between 2020 and the first three months of 2021.

“I am responsible for the Department of Justice for the duration of my government service (which ends in September 2022). I’ll be paid my normal salary minus my summer stipend,” Karlan said in a mandatory disclosure form reported by Reuters last year. Karlan also served on Facebook’s Content Moderation Oversight Board from April 2020 to January 2021 before moving to the Department of Justice.

The new documents said the Justice Department would wire Stanford $183,100 a year — a nod to upper-level federal wages, though Stanford continued to pay Karlan much more.

Karlan was loathed by Trump supporters for her testimony during Trump’s first impeachment for pressuring Ukraine to investigate the Biden family in connection with Hunter Biden’s reported $1 million-a-year job on the board of Ukrainian gas company Burisma , while his father served as Vice President of the Obama administration, overseeing Ukraine policy.

In a widely shared exchange, Karlan testified, “The Constitution says there can be no titles of peerage, so while the President can name his son Barron, he cannot make him a Baron.”

Karlan was working in the Civil Rights Division as she prepared a lawsuit against an Arizona law filed last week after she left that requires proof of citizenship to vote in some federal elections. The department issued a memo to attorneys general in March to “[remind] them from constitutional and federal legal provisions that protect transgender youth from discrimination, even when those youth seek gender-affirming care,” a press release said.

Karlan declined to comment on her departure, referring questions to the Justice Department.

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