Friday, March 16, 2007

Here’s The Thing (The Fired US Atty’s Thing)

The White House slime king, Fat Karl, keeps saying other presidents have fired US prosecutors when they took office, so what’s the big deal? And it is true. When a new president takes office, he has the right to fire the appointees of the previous president. Bill Clinton did just that. When he took office in 1993, he fired every U.S. attorney except one. But here’s the thing. Bill Clinton fired US attorneys that had been appointed by George Herbert Walker Bush. The precedent set for firing US attorneys is that it normally would be done at the very outset of a new president’s term in an effort to clean house of the former president’s appointees. The weird part in the present case of the Bush administration firing US attorneys is that it happened at the beginning of George W. Bush’s second term. The US attorneys that were canned had been appointed by George W. Bush during his first term in office. This morning the New York Times printed emails between Fat Karl and the Attorney General’s then-chief of staff Kyle Sampson. Even the AG’s chief of staff said it would be “weird” to oust US attorneys appointed by George W. Bush during his first term. Regarding the message to Rove from Sampson on January 6, 2005, the NYT said, “In the message, Mr. Sampson said, ‘The vast majority of U.S. Attorneys, 80-85 percent, I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc.’ “Even then”, the NYT goes on to say, “Mr. Sampson realized there might be a backlash caused by replacing a large number of prosecutors and said it would be ‘weird’ to remove prosecutors before they had completed a single four-year term. ‘I suspect that when push comes to shove,’ he wrote, ‘home state senator likely would resist wholesale (or even piecemeal) replacement of U.S. Attorney they recommended.’” The fact that Bush wanted to fire all the US attorneys he himself had appointed because they weren’t handing down rulings according to the White House playbook, and the fact that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had targeted the ousted US attorneys and had used Justice Department intimidation against them is what this latest scandal is about. That’s the thing.

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