David Margolis

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Margolis Blocks Investigation in Siegelman Case

Scott Horton points the finger at career attorney Margolis

David Margolis, the Associate Deputy Attorney General, died at 76 (2016) after a long career with the Justice Department. He was reported to be a colorful lawyer who had led the organized crime section of the Justice Department and later was called on to resolve sensitive ethical and disciplinary matters in his role as Associate Deputy. His expertise disappointed in reference to the Don Siegelman Case, however.

The pardon and clemency power is clearly the right way to approach [Justice for Siegelman.] But there is an obstacle: associate deputy attorney general David Margolis, the senior-most career attorney in the Justice Department. Margolis has intervened numerous times to block internal inquiries into media reports of political conspiracies behind the Siegelman prosecution, according to several highly placed sources at the department. He personally pushed back against conflict-of-interest complaints filed against the U.S. attorney who brought the prosecution, whose husband was a principal funder and adviser of Siegelman’s political adversary.

Margolis wrote a decision that found no wrongdoing on her part—in the face of an enormous body of evidence to the contrary.

Defending Canary’s misconduct and silencing a whistleblower at Justice

Margolis also silenced a whistleblower in the prosecution team, threatening disciplinary action over disclosures, all as part of an effort to stem embarrassing media leaks. As one Justice Department source told me, “David thinks the way DOJ managed this case, if brought to light, would do real harm to the reputation of the department. He’s obviously right about that.”

In the current pardons structure, the president turns to the Justice Department’s pardons attorney for guidance on pardons and clemency. That pardons attorney, at present, reports to Margolis. For the moment, that would seem to dampen any hopes for a pardon or commutation of sentence.

Apprehension about the matter is building within the Department

Horton writes in the Daily Beast that Margolis threatens the reputation of the Department:

A career Justice Department lawyer stated that apprehension about the matter was building within the department. “What happened in this case is a disgrace that threatens the reputation of the Department as a whole and federal prosecutors across the country,” he said. He identified David Margolis as having failed to take corrective measures.

Read More at the Washington Spectator: The Case for a Presidential Pardon for Don Siegelman
Read More at the Daily Beast: What the Justice Department is Hiding

Related Characters


  • Karl Rove

    Directed the Siegelman Prosecution from D.C.

  • Jack Abramoff

    Financed the “machine” that took out Siegelman

  • Michael Scanlon

    Helped Abramoff cheat the Choctaw and bribe officials

  • Ralph Reed

    Laundered gambling money to Christian organizations

  • Grover Norquist

    Funneled gambling money from MS to Alabama GOP

  • Judge Bill Pryor

    Initiated the investigation of Siegelman in ’99

  • Winton Blount III

    Hosting planning meeting for Siegelman prosecution

  • Leura Canary

    Alabama US Attorney appointed to “get” Siegelman

  • William Canary

    Brokered access between D.C. and Alabama GOP

  • Rob Riley

    One of the operatives central to the Siegelman Prosecution

  • Bob Riley

    Exploited Alabama for the Riley family’s benefit