How is Firing Government Attorneys a “Scandal”?

So the Bush Administration fires 8 lawyers and somehow this “scandal“is the next Watergate? Please. I agree with Mike Gallagher on this one:

[T]o read today’s papers, all the political controversies in our nation’s history combined don’t add up to the earthquake of a scandal that is rocking our world: the Bush Administration was involved in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.
I’d love to be a fly on the wall of a high school social studies class when a student timidly raises his hand and says to the teacher, “Um, Miss Smith – if President Clinton can fire all 93 U.S. attorneys for obvious political reasons, why can’t President Bush?”

Oh but it is different. Just ask the CBS News blog, who are setting it all straight by, for instance, pointing to this explanation:

Although Bush and President Bill Clinton each dismissed nearly all U.S. attorneys upon taking office, legal experts and former prosecutors say the firing of a large number of prosecutors in the middle of a term appears to be unprecedented and threatens the independence of prosecutors.

And, according to CBS legal analyst Andrew Cohen

What is different about this current episode is that a Republican White House sought to replace Republican-appointed federal prosecutors mid-stream who were by all accounts doing precisely what they had been asked to do. We now know, from last week’s testimony, why in some cases this was so and the answers we got make it clear that the reasons were not high-minded or lofty.

I’m glad the unbiased media is on the case. So, to dismiss someone, the Executive Branch must do so for only high-minded or lofty reasons? So much for executive privilege. I’ll throw up another Clinton example: remember the Travel Office? OK, it may not rise to the same level. And, as NY Sen. Chuck Schumer points out, “U.S. attorneys have always been above politics, and this administration has blatantly manipulated the U.S. attorney system to serve its political needs.” Hmm. What about this?

…the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, which is Manhattan, which is a big post, was a Chuck Schumer protégé, and he was there for five or six years. If there was somebody else prior to him, then this guy who was Schumer’s protégé was second. He was there for a number of years. A Chuck Schumer protégé was the US attorney for the Southern District of New York. They finally got a new guy in there — I don’t know, a year and a half, or two years ago — a man by the name of Mike Garcia, finally a Bush appointee after four or five years of his administration, and Schumer now has the audacity to say that US attorneys have always been above politics?

Of course not. And that’s what this really is about. Politics. It’s not illegal, it’s not a crime. It’s pure political opportunism. That’s it.


UPDATE: Incidentally, I’m not saying that the Bush Administration has handled this well, it hasn’t. But the fact of the matter is that these Attorney’s “serve at the pleasure of the President.” Heck, as Linda Chavez points out, one of the U.S. attorneys President Clinton fired was in the middle of investigating Dan Rostenkowski for mail fraud. Again, this is nothing more than an attempt to make “illegal” anything that you oppose politically (or, more precisely, anything you can claim with righteous indignation to be unseemly). By calling for investigations, the Democrats are simply hoping that–a la Scooter Libby–the investigations themselves will trip up someone so that a real crime can be prosecuted. Washington politics, ya gotta love it.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
9 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Steven L
Steven L
14 years ago

Carol Lam,US Attorney for San Diego, prosecuted Randy Duke Cunningham, her most recent perfomance review was very
positive.Now Bush/Rove/Cheney punish her.This reminds me of Nixon firing Eliot Richardson.

Greg
Greg
14 years ago

I’ve been trying to figure this out for two days. How is this a story and does the MSM think ANYBODY outside of the Beltway junkies like us even CARES?

Michael
Michael
14 years ago

I’m outside the beltway. I’m interested and I care. U.S. Attorneys are political appointees. That’s a given. But when an administration appears to have removed them from office because of pursuing corruption cases against Republicans, failing to pursue meritless cases that would damage Democrats, then they’ve gone way over the line. Is that Obstruction of Justice? I’m no atty so don’t know for sure on the legalities but it meets my “smell test”. It stinks.
All I hear is how previous Presidents fired/appointed U.S. Attorneys, etc. If that be the case and this is so normal, why all the lies and misrepresentations. What’s with the secrecy? They’re ashamed of something. I want to know what.

SusanD
SusanD
14 years ago

Wake me when there’s a real scandal.

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

We can argue about the U.S. attorneys ad nauseam, but combine this with his Patriot Act abuses, and you get the protrait of an AG who is more intoxicated with power than Patrick Kennedy ever was on Ambien.
It’s a shame Meg Curran had to leave office, because I’d love to have seen how the Bush administration would’ve handled her in ’05. She had Chafee’s backing, which I know is the kiss of death around this bandwith, but face it: If John Harwood and the Democratic good old boys hated her so pathologically, she must’ve been doing something right.

Rhody
Rhody
14 years ago

We can argue about the U.S. attorneys ad nauseam, but combine this with his Patriot Act abuses, and you get the protrait of an AG who is more intoxicated with power than Patrick Kennedy ever was on Ambien.
It’s a shame Meg Curran had to leave office, because I’d love to have seen how the Bush administration would’ve handled her in ’05. She had Chafee’s backing, which I know is the kiss of death around this bandwith, but face it: If John Harwood and the Democratic good old boys hated her so pathologically, she must’ve been doing something right.

mrh
mrh
14 years ago

Also: lying to Congress is a crime. This is another instance where the initial act is sketchy, but possibly not criminal, but the cover-up gets them in trouble.

klaus
klaus
14 years ago

You know, just when I start to regret the overly combative tone I take in my comments, and start to think it’s time to be more reasonable, you come up with something like this.
And I’ve basically agreed with your posts on kids’ TV and the airport expansion, so this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction as you’d like to believe.
There is no scandal about firing political appointees. There is a scandal when you fire good, competent people simply because they aren’t being sufficiently partisan in the way they apply the law.
Carole Lam was fired because she had the gall to prosecute a Rep, who was so corrupt he makes RI politicians look like cub scouts.
The one in Wash St was fired because he came to the conclusion there was not sufficient evidence to indict a Dem.
In other words, they were fired for doing a proper job in applying the law. And, btw, both Lam and the one in Wash were Reps.
Then there’s the issue of how this was handled. First they lie and say it was about performance. When that blew up, Gonzales lies and said the White House wasn’t involved. Well, now that’s blown up.
IIRC, Clinton wasn’t impeached because of the sexual encounter, it was because he lied about it. In Washington, it’s often not the crime that gets you; it’s the cover-up.
But I guess you’re OK with that.

mrh
mrh
14 years ago

Bob Barr on the scandal.

Show your support for Anchor Rising with a 25-cent-per-day subscription.