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Big news in the U.S. Attorneys firings story:

The White House suggested two years ago that the Justice Department fire all 93 U.S. attorneys, a proposal that eventually resulted in the dismissals of eight prosecutors last year, according to e-mails and internal documents that the administration will provide to Congress today.

Details:

Administration officials have portrayed the firings as a routine personnel matter, designed primarily to rid the department of a handful of poor performers.

But the documents and interviews indicate that the idea for the firings originated at least two years ago, when then-White House counsel Harriet E. Miers suggested to Sampson in February 2005 that all prosecutors be dismissed and replaced.

If I don't get the job I want, no one does! And even though that idea was scaled back, it's looking like the White House directed the firings for political reasons. From the NYT:

Mr. Rove's role in expressing concerns about prosecutors had emerged in recent days. The White House acknowledged Sunday that Mr. Rove had passed on complaints to Mr. Gonzales and Ms. Miers about David C. Iglesias, who was dismissed as the United States attorney in New Mexico. Mr. Rove's role surfaced after the McClatchy Newspapers reported that a Republican Party official in New Mexico had complained to Mr. Rove in 2005 and again a year later about Mr. Iglesias's failure to indict Democrats in a voter fraud investigation.

Concern about voter registration fraud turned political in several states in 2004 where there were close elections, including some lost narrowly by Republican candidates.

If Bush wants to pardon Libby, he should probably do it before the queue behind him gets too long.

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  1. I have to ask, why was the initial suggestion to fire every single prosecutor made?

  2. So, this is supposed to become the Bush ‘version’ of the White House Travel Office scandal? Or am I too far ahead of the hysteria 🙂

    OT: So, no drum beating about the CJCS and his personal views in homosexual activity in the military?

  3. So, this is supposed to become the Bush ‘version’ of the White House Travel Office scandal?

    When did they give travel office employees the power to investigate and indict?

  4. This was the money qoute for me:

    E-mails show that Justice officials discussed bypassing the two Democratic senators in Arkansas, who normally would have had input into the appointment, as early as last August. By mid-December, Sampson was suggesting that Gonzales exercise his newfound appointment authority to put Griffin in place until the end of Bush’s term.

    “[I]f we don’t ever exercise it then what’s the point of having it?” Sampson wrote to a White House aide.

  5. When did they give travel office employees the power to investigate and indict?

    I was referring to the “poor innocent employees” given the boot angle, nit the powers they have in their jobs.

  6. It’s amazing to me that no one gives Bush credit for being a great libertarian ally. The idea that government is evil and should be reduced to (maybe) a bit of policing is a hard sell, but having dim incompetents running the government makes it seem sort of plausible.

  7. I was referring to the “poor innocent employees” given the boot angle, nit the powers they have in their jobs.

    Well, great. That’s the angle no one cares about.

  8. This sounds incredibly stupid, especially for someone, like Rove, who is supposed to be a top notch political operative. Is there anything illegal, however, about the Executive Branch firing prosecutors for reasons not related to legislatively protected classes, like race, religion, etc.?

  9. Well, great. That’s the angle no one cares about.

    Excuse me? Granted, it might be the least important angle to almost any story like this, but it is what MSM thrives on!

  10. Guy Montag,

    I’m curious, are H&R commentators part of the MSM now?

    Will Allen,

    You’d have to look at the statutes which authorize the existance of and discuss the duties of a federal prosecutor. I don’t know if they are treated like cabinet level officers or if they are treated like civil service employees. I believe that distinction makes a difference, though I can’t tell you specific details.

  11. Grotius,

    No, at least that’s what they want me to think.

  12. Didn’t Reno just fire all of them back in 1993? Seems like firing 8 is less extreme

  13. Didn’t Reno just fire all of them back in 1993? Seems like firing 8 is less extreme

    But think of the children!

  14. hawkeye92,

    Is that what every new administration does?

  15. Grotius, I think it is standard practice for the Attorney General to ask for resignations of all prosecutors upon a new administration taking office, so I doubt the position of federal prosecutor is afforded civil service protections. I think it likely that they can be hired and fired like members of the White House staff.

  16. May George W Bush fire every man, woman and child in the US and A, down to the lizards!

  17. Is that what every new administration does?

    Yes. It’s what every administration does. But hawkeye92’s job here is to spread the spin that this was no big deal.

    Either that, or hawkeye92 is an Iowa grad, which would lead me to believe that he/she’s just an idiot.

  18. So, is it now a big deal to have fired those particular US attorneys or is it not? And if it’s a big deal is it also illegal? If not, why would anyone bring up Presidential pardons?

  19. Yes. It’s what every administration does. But hawkeye92’s job here is to spread the spin that this was no big deal.

    and, from another comment

    So, is it now a big deal to have fired those particular US attorneys or is it not? And if it’s a big deal is it also illegal? If not, why would anyone bring up Presidential pardons?

    Because it is only a big deal if:

    the President has an R behind his name

    he supports amnesty for illegal aliens

    he supports government funding of crackpot global warming measures

    he bombed another country

    invaded another country

    and other stuff.

    Actually, the “R” is the only important part.

  20. I’m as appalled as anyone at both the firings and the apparent political maneuvering behind them, but David:
    If I don’t get the job I want, no one does! suggests Miers made these recommendations in a fit of pissiness over having to withdraw from the S.Ct. nomination.
    But, just before that line, you quote: then-White House counsel Harriet E. Miers suggested to Sampson in February 2005
    Hmmm. When was Miers nominated for that other job? October 2005.

  21. Guy Montag,

    That’s fine, that is the way a nation with a competitive party system is supposed to work.

  22. Shelby,

    All this proves is that Ms. Miers had prior knowledge of VP Cheney’s master plan of global world domination.

    poo poo it away all you want, it is a conspiracy above the highest ranks of government!

  23. Well, just so i’m straight on this, isn’t voter fraud a serious crime? If these individuals weren’t doing their jobs and weren’t going after voter fraud, they should have been fired. I really don’t see the problem. Just because Rove’s name was mentioned does not imply some deep dark conspiracy.

  24. Just because Rove’s name was mentioned does not imply some deep dark conspiracy.

    Correct, that is absolute proof of a conspiracy!

  25. The most disturbing aspect of this is the complete media amnesia on the fact that Clinton asked for, and got, the resignation of all 93 U.S. Attorneys. In a nation with a “competitive party system,” the media has a responsibility to report this stuff accurately.

    Not to say that the Bush administration is pursuing good policy by doing this stuff, but it is well within their power and discretion to do so. U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. Period.

    AFAIK, all federal attorneys, either at DOJ or in the agencies, are “exempt”–meaning not part of the civil-service system. I know, because I applied for quite a few of those positions out of law school. BTW, the position of U.S. Attorney is high-ranking within DOJ, I believe the highest-level positions at DOJ that do not require Senate confirmation.

  26. The difference between now and Clinton is the PATRIOT act loophole that doesn’t require Senate confirmation for U.S. attorneys. Also, many of the replacements seem to be Republican-operative slappies. Kind of like many of the people they chose to “reconstruct” Iraq.

    That’s the issue, and why this is just another piece of the creeping (or not so creeping) monarchialism of this Presidency.

  27. The most disturbing aspect of this is the complete media amnesia on the fact that Clinton asked for, and got, the resignation of all 93 U.S. Attorneys.

    As did Bush 43, Bush 41, etc. New Presidents always choose new U.S.A’s.

    Damn that Clinton, did you know he also replaced all of the sitting Cabinet Secretaries when he assumed office. Politicizing the Executive branch and all, …

  28. I wasn’t aware that U.S. Attorneys were ever subject to Senatorial confirmation. Wow, you learn something new every day.

    BTW, the presidency has been a quasi-monarchy since FDR. This little scandal is not unique to Bush or to Republicans, and is simply another example of the dark side of all of that “positive liberty” we’ve been experiencing since 1933.

    The main difference now is the gaping maw of the 24-hour news cycle.

  29. As did Bush 43, Bush 41, etc. New Presidents always choose new U.S.A’s.

    But they don’t all fire them en masse. Again, I think it’s an abuse of power to do so and is clearly an example of a paranoid, closed-off WH in its stretch run. But the media is treating this as a scandal, which they did NOT do in 1993. The Patriot Act fig leaf doesn’t cover it, sorry. It was an abuse of power, both times.

  30. I wasn’t aware that U.S. Attorneys were ever subject to Senatorial confirmation.

    I didn’t either! I have been subject to Senate conformation, and got it, 4 times. Good thing I im in the middle of the pack with all of the other Army Officers 🙂

    I hear the “rubber stamp” conformations are the easiest.

  31. “There was no evidence, and I am not going to drag innocent people in front of a grand jury.”

    Such were the words of John McKay, the Bush appointee fired in Washington state, regarding the bogus voter fraud charges he was expected to file just prior to the election. This is what it was about. Not personnel, not Clinton, who was, after all, clearing out twelve years of Republican appointees. No, Bush’s team drew the long knives for their OWN appointees who betrayed the party by not using the power of the state to attack the Democrats prior to the election.

    The party hacks didn’t just want “investigations,” they wanted charges, any kind of charges, whether they would hold up or not. If they had fired all the prosecutors in 2004 it wouldn’t be a story. But they didn’t. They fired eight prosecutors in 2007 for refusing to go along with wrongful prosecutions. Frankly, only the lowest partisan hack would try to spin this blatant attempt to upend the election as “business as usual” or invoke the dreaded Clinton. Christ, what is it with you people and Clinton, anyway?

  32. Well, just so i’m straight on this, isn’t voter fraud a serious crime? If these individuals weren’t doing their jobs and weren’t going after voter fraud, they should have been fired.

    There was no evidence of voter fraud, genius. McKay investigated, and he wasn’t going to start a witch hunt just to get headlines in the absence of evidence. In other words, he was doing his job professionally, which in anathema to the administration. So he had to go.

    But just ask Guy. That kind of stuff, making baseless claims about voter fraud, outing CIA agents, etc., it’s all cool if the Republicans do it.

  33. Simple explanation for the Stupid:

    1) Every incoming President replaces all 93 US Attorneys.
    2) Each replacement is subject to approval from the Senate, but it’s rare that one gets turned down — even by the most angry and partisan of Senates.
    3) What is not common: Firing large numbers of them midway through a Presidential term. Most US. Attorney’s are replaced due to scandal or retirement. Firing large numbers of them is unprecedented.
    4) What is new: The patriot act provision that allows Bush to appoint US. Attorney’s without Congressional oversight.

    The issue in a nutshell: Due to changes in the law, Bush is taking the unprecedented step of firing a large number of US Attorneys in order to replace them without oversight. The firings look expressly political — even more so in that he is firing his own appointees.

    The serious governmental problem in this: Doing this opens the door to making the US Attorney’s position — a very powerful one — expressely political, to be handed out to political flunkies and kept only if your investigations meet political tests.

  34. I am shocked, shocked, to find politics going on in the executive branch!

  35. Anbody who thinks that various political enemies of various Presidents have just been coincidentally subject to IRS audits through the years just isn’t paranoid enough. These stupid actions by this administration (not having future U.S. Attorney’s subject to Senate confirmation is the worst) just is another unfortunate movement in the same direction.

  36. Nothing irritates me more than partisans trying to defend the indefensible.

  37. Guy, much appreciate the snark–and it’s really not unfounded, too!

  38. Guy, much appreciate the snark–and it’s really not unfounded, too!

    Thank you Alan. I am here to help 🙂

  39. This is a great example of why the Democrat pols suck. They can’t frame an 8X10 glossy photo if their life depended on it. The issue for attack is NOT that they were fired. The President has the right to do so. Trying to frame the issue as a President out of bounds will not go very far. The only reason the

    The fact that Bush did it is not much of an issue, WHY he did could be an issue but the Dems have been bad about framing issues for a while. If the Dems were smart they would frame the issue as a election issue, in that they were fired for not “politicizing” the outcomes of elections by attempting to prosecute “voter fraud” when the now fired U.S. Attorneys did not believe fraud existed to a level that was prosecutable. They could accuse the Whitehouse of attempting to turn local elections into mini versions of Bush Vs. Gore for their own benefit. The Whitehouse wanted them to interfere with the election results.

    “””The difference between now and Clinton is the PATRIOT act loophole that doesn’t require Senate confirmation for U.S. attorneys. Also, many of the replacements seem to be Republican-operative slappies. Kind of like many of the people they chose to “reconstruct” Iraq.”””

    The Senate voted to give up it’s confirmation for U.S. attorneys in this instance. That’s not the Presidents fault and the new rules apply to all incoming Presidents. Therefore the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. act provision is non-partisan in that it will apply to both Democrat and Republian Presidents in the future. I’m not saying it’s a wise or necessary, but I am pointing out this aspect of it was approved.

    “””Republican-operative slappies”””

    Sure, that’s the way Bush does business. It is possible that it will be “Democrat-operative slappies” next time. Unless we get a President that believes in things like quality.

    “””3) What is not common: Firing large numbers of them midway through a Presidential term. Most US. Attorney’s are replaced due to scandal or retirement. Firing large numbers of them is unprecedented.
    4) What is new: The patriot act provision that allows Bush to appoint US. Attorney’s without Congressional oversight.””””

    Well # 3 is not correct unless you view 8 as a large number.

    #4 is new and will be afforded to every President here after. But, be mindful of the fact that Congress approved removing it’s own oversight.

    I don’t see Bush’s actions as a “real” issue. Certainly the President is within his right to do so. It seems smarter if the Dems went after the why.

    I’m curious if Congress will go after the AG’s aide for lying under oath. The Dems could make that an issue, since it seems like the Bush admin has no respect for swearing to tell the truth.

  40. Amazingly, Keith Oberman and the rest of MSNBC (including that John Edwards impersonator who comes on before him) are breaking their backs trying to spin this.

    The White House releases well over 100 pages of e-mail: this is an attempt to obscure.

    Cue John Dean: “this is worse than Watergate”. Note to readers: the number of things that John Dean calls “worse than Watergate” exceed the number of atoms in the universe.

    Catch it, will be rerun all night I think.

  41. “Amazingly, Keith Oberman and the rest of MSNBC (including that John Edwards impersonator who comes on before him) are breaking their backs trying to spin this.”

    Amazingly? Are you kidding? It would be amazing if an objective story came from Countdown. Let’s face it, Oberman had a few good rants (excellent) about our incompetent and dishonest president, but not enough to say Countdown is a great show, especially when he gets to the interviews.

  42. PLEASE DONALD TRUMP, RUN FOR PRESIDENT, I KNOW YOU WOULD WIN, JUST TALKING TO PEOPLE, YOU WOULD BE IN! PLEASE DO THE COUNTRY A FAVOR AND RUN FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENT, THERE ARE MORE PEOPLE BEHIND YOU THEN YOU WILL EVER KNOW. THANKYOU PLEASE REALLY THINK ABOUT RUNNING….YOU WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

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