How is Firing Government Attorneys a “Scandal”?
[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?”
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.