Democratic Nebraska Senate candidate Dave Domina, in an interview with the Washington Free Beacon, stood by his work defending a former Nazi police officer stripped of his U.S. citizenship.
Domina, who is trailing Republican Ben Sasse, said he did not balk when John Kalymon hired him in 2006 to fight the U.S. government, which was seeking to deport the former German-occupation police officer for lying about his past.
"Mr. Kalymon lived an honorable life in the U.S.," Domina said in an interview Wednesday.
Domina touts his work defending Kalymon, citing it on his law firm’s website.
"I am a person without biases against other people and in this instance, my own beloved grandchildren are Jewish people and their mother is a student of Jewish history and a professor of it," said Domina, who is not Jewish. "I am a firm believer in the legal process and I believe that lawyers with gifts in that profession should share their gifts, and that’s what I did."
The case began in 2006 when the U.S. government charged the octogenarian Chrysler engineer, now deceased, with lying on the immigration forms that allowed him to come to this country from his native Ukraine some 60 years earlier.
Kalymon’s real name was Ivan, the government said, accusing the Detroit resident of covering up his membership in the Nazi-backed Ukrainian Auxiliary Police (UAP), participating in pogroms against Jews, and of killing at least one in the woods nearby the Jewish ghetto in L’Viv.
Kalymon "repeatedly shot at Jews who tried to escape during roundups," according to the government records recounted in a 2006 Detroit Free Press report on the deportation proceedings. "Kalymon killed one Jew and wounded another."
The UAP, which Kalymon admitted to being a member of, was documented to be complicit in Nazi crimes.
"During the first week of the German occupation of the Ukraine, members of the Ukrainian Auxiliary Police took part in pogroms against the Jews," according to Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial museum. "Later, they escorted Jews to their forced labor sites and guarded the ghettos."
Kalymon was ultimately stripped of his U.S. citizenship and ordered to be "removed from the United States because of his participation in Nazi-sponsored acts of persecution while serving during World War II as an armed member of the" UAP, the Department of Justice announced in 2011.
"Ivan Kalymon was part and parcel of the Nazi machinery of persecution that ended the lives of more than 100,000 men, women, and children in L’viv," Eli Rosenbaum, director of human rights enforcement strategy and policy for the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecution Section (HRSP), said in a statement at the time.
Domina, who helmed Kalymon’s defense, told the Free Beacon that while the Ukrainian immigrant had concealed his true identity while applying for U.S. citizenship, the evidence presented against him was unreliable.
"The evidence consisted of these historical documents, and the evidence about the genuineness of his signature on the critical document was contested, and the efforts proving or disproving the authenticity of proving the signature as his, which he denied, was inconclusive," Domina said.
However, "the court made a judgment and that withstood," Domina said. "I’m not at all inclined to quibble with the court’s judgment. [Kalymon] denied his involvement and the court found against him."
Asked if he has any qualms about defending a man accused of Nazi war crimes, Domina stood by his work.
"It has not been an issue. I’ve raised it and disclosed it when appropriate," he said.
"I was involved on a professional level and did my best professionally for a person who, decades after these events, needed help," Domina said. "I performed a professional service. … It was a service I rendered without making a judgment on a person."
Kalymon died in Detroit earlier this year while under deportation order, according to the AP, which noted that German authorities also had filed an arrest warrant for the former Nazi as a result of his war crimes.
Domina told the Free Beacon that he should not be criticized for defending Kalymon.
His critics "have a very weak understanding of the responsibilities of a lawyer to provide professional services with objectivity," he said.