Van Valkenburg Blasts DOJ Statement as Political Hatchet Job – Full of Lies and Half-Truths [AUDIO]
Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg responded to last Friday's Department of Justice news release, calling it a 'political hatchet-job, full of half-truths and lies'.
Van Valkenburg, speaking on a cellphone while on a family vacation, said he was not surprised that the Department of Justice chose to release their accusations against the county attorney's office late on the Friday afternoon preceding a three-day holiday weekend, to take advantage of what the media calls 'the news cycle'.
"I'm disappointed that the Department of Justice has chosen to do this," Van Valkenburg said. "Obviously, this is in retaliation over the fact that we filed a lawsuit against them last week. They've spent twenty-two months investigating us, and then just three days after we file a lawsuit, they dump this on us."
Van Valkenburg said Friday's statement by the Department of Justice bears no resemblance to the truth about what happens in his office on a daily basis.
"It's full of half-truths and outright lies," Van Valkenburg said. "It does not reflect how our office treats people. I think they're just trying to win a war of public opinion rather than provide a response to our lawsuit, and to deal with this issue as they should in court. I don't think we're dealing with honest, straightforward, decent people, here. We are dealing with people who are pushing a certain political agenda."
Van Valkenburg said he believes the accusations against his office are coming from higher in the Department of Justice than just U.S. Attorney for Montana, Michael Cotter.
"This is clearly coming right out of Washington, D.C. and I think as high as United States Attorney General Eric Holder. There are underlings of his who have put the specifics together. It is a Washington, D.C. hatchet-job."
Van Valkenburg decried how the federal government has used this issue to tear Missoula apart.
"It's hard on me and my staff, it's hard on the county commissioners, it's hard on the victims, it's hard on the police, and it's something that has torn Missoula apart. But, the Department of Justice doesn't care one thing about Missoula. Their interest is the bigger political picture, whether it's Congress, or the New York Times, or whatever. That's what they're playing to."
Van Valkenburg said the court action his office brought last week in U.S. District Court will have to run its course.
"It'll be about another two months before the DOJ has to respond to the lawsuit, so it's a waiting game to some degree," he said. "There are some good things, though. The opinion piece from former chief of police Mark Muir supporting our position. I think people will just have to wait and see both sides of this story over the next weeks or months."
Missoula County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg