never let go of the u.s. attorney scandal…

Posted on Saturday 24 March 2007

In January 2006, Kyle Sampson responded to Harriet Miers inquiry about replacing U.S. Attorneys with this email:
There are practical obstacles to removing and replacing U.S. Attorneys. First, wholesale removal of U.S. Attorneys would cause significant disruption to the work of the Department of Justice. Second, individual U.S. Attorneys often were originally recommended for appointment by a home-state Senator who may be opposed to the President’s determination to remove the U.S. Attorney. Third, a suitable replacement must be found in consultation with the home-state Senator, the difficulty of which would vary from state to state. Fourth, a background investigation must be completed on the replacement — a task often complicated if the outgoing U.S. Attorney stays in office. Fifth, after nomination, the Senate must confirm the replacement.

None of the above obstacles are insuperable. First, a limited number of U.S. Attorneys could be targeted for removal and replacement, mitigating the shock to the system that would result from an across-the-board firing. Second, the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) could work quietly with targeted U.S. Attorneys to encourage them to leave government service voluntarily; this would allow targeted U.S. Attorneys to make arrangements for work in the private sector and "save face" regarding the reason for leaving office, both in the Department of Justice community and in their local legal communities. Third, after targeted U.S. Attorneys have left office or indicated publicly their intention to leave office, then the Office of the Counsel to the President can work with home-state Senators and/or other political leaders in the state to secure recommendations for a replacement U.S. Attorney. Finally, after background investigations are complete and the replacement candidate is nominated, the Attorney General can appoint the nominee to serve as interim U.S. Attorney pending confirmation, thereby reducing the time during which the leadership of the office is uncertain.
In March 2006, when the Patriot Act was reauthorized, there was a change slipped in which gets around many of the obstacles Sampson mentions:
  • Section 546 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking subsections (c) and (d) and inserting the following new subsection:
  • (c) A person appointed as United States attorney under this section may serve until the qualification of a United States Attorney for such district appointed by the President under section 541 of this title.
The language that was replaced by PL 109-177 specified that if a US Attorney resigned before the end of his term, that the Court nominated an interim US attorney until the Senate acted on a Presidential nomination.The term for the interim US Attorney was limited by law to 120 days. Now, the President makes the appointment, there is no limit to the interim appointment, and there is required no Senate oversight
In April 2006, Karl Rove gave a speech to the Republican National Lawyers Association:
He ticked off 11 states that he said could be pivotal in the 2008 elections. Bush has appointed new U.S. attorneys in nine of them since 2005: Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. U.S. attorneys in the latter four were among those fired.
Mary of the left coaster has an absolutely must-read post about all of this, Politicizing the Justice System. This is not a simple little scheme that has appeared as the U.S. Attorney Scandal. It is a carefully orchestrated plan to replace the U.S. Attorneys in States that are on the line – to make registration difficult for Minorities and poor people – traditional Democratic voters. It’s basically a scheme to jury-rig the 2008 Presidential Election. The lawyers chosen to replace the removed lawyers are Federalist Society types, extreme Republican Party loyalists or operatives. No wonder that Bush is going to the wall to keep Rove and Miers from testifying. EITHER they are escalating their corruption OR we are finally getting a peek at its depth. Digby weighs in with Rove’s previous exploits suggesting the latter.

Update: A Conservative friend responded to a letter of mine in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution yesterday about this with: "Your faithful libertatian friend, keeper of logic and perspective, wishes to point out that resisting a show trial over nothing and fighting a war are not comparable" which is, I think, the Administration’s current Talking Point. Boy, is he off base this time?! This is certainly not nothing

    March 25, 2007 | 3:07 PM

    Firing these U S attorneys is a more devious plan than I thought. I hope there are people up to the task because it’s a big one. This might be one of the biggest scandals after the Iraq war lies and the outing of a CIA agent.

    Abby's mom
    March 25, 2007 | 10:59 PM

    It’s hard to decide. There are so many to choose from.

    January 7, 2009 | 11:23 PM

    […] never let go of the u.s. attorney scandal… Saturday 24 March 2007 […]

    February 6, 2009 | 4:48 AM

    This is awesome !!! Good work

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