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Fired U.S. Attorneys Will Meet in Seattle

Normally, anything labeled "public policy forum" in the e-mail in-box gets automatically deleted here at Capitol Briefing, especially when it's being hosted in the "other" Washington, way out in Seattle.

But when it's a public policy forum on U.S. attorneys hosted by none other than John McKay, Capitol Briefing takes note!

McKay, the ousted U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington, is now a visiting professor at the Seattle University School of Law. On May 9 he's hosting a pair of his fellow fired federal prosecutors for a forum on the mass sackings last year.

Joining McKay will be David C. Iglesias, the former U.S. attorney for New Mexico, and Paul K. Charlton, the former prosecutor for Arizona. McKay, Iglesias and Charlton are three of the most controversial firings of the eight ousted prosecutors, because they were either conducting sensitive investigations of Republicans or under fire for not prosecuting Democrats around the time of their dismissals on Dec. 7. All three were also contacted by members of Congress or their staff at a sensitive time regarding ongoing criminal corruption investigations.

The four-hour symposium could spark sharp criticism of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the White House for alleged politicization of the Justice Department. One session is titled: "The 2007 Experience -- Myths and Realities: explanation of the current incidents, with comparison of historical similarities and differences."

McKay told the Senate and House Judiciary committees in early March that the chief of staff to Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) contacted him in early 2005 to inquire about alleged Democratic voter fraud in the 2004 gubernatorial election. McKay said he cut off the staffer -- Ed Cassidy, who now works for Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) -- before Cassidy ventured into inappropriate talks about an ongoing case.

Iglesias testified that Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) called him in the weeks before Wilson's razor-thin reelection last November. Iglesias said he felt pressured him to bring indictments against Albuquerque Democrats.

And Charlton has been in the news this week because of reports that his office was also contacted by a staffer about a probe, this one an ongoing corruption investigation of the aide's boss, Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.).

Hastings and Cassidy deny the call to McKay was inappropriate. Domenici and Wilson admit they called Iglesias but deny pressuring him, although Domenici acknowledges he asked about the corruption case and has apologized for the call. Renzi has denied any wrongdoing and today issued a statement to Roll Call denying rumors of his retirement.

McKay's legal eagle panel also includes two law professors who've been highly critical of the political nature of the Justice Department under President Bush.

James Eisenstein, a law professor at Penn State and author of a book on U.S. attorneys, told The Washington Post's Dan Eggen and Amy Goldstein that it was "very unusual" for Gonzales to appoint so many of his own top aides to the federal prosecutor outposts around the country.

And Laurie L. Levenson, professor at Loyola Law School, testified before Senate Judiciary Feb. 6 that "the increasing politicization of federal law enforcement" was having a "devastating impact on the morale" in U.S. attorney's offices around the nation.

Incidentally, former Rep. Rick White (R-Wash.), one of three finalists to replace McKay, may want to attend the legal forum -- and not just to learn of the travails of being a federal prosecutor. White isn't allowed to practice law in Washington because he still needs 20 to 30 "continuing law education" credits. While White can't practice law, he has run a TechNet, a large high-tech lobbying association in Washington. And he's been a GOP donor, including $1,000 checks the past two election cycles to Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.), the lawmaker who forwarded White's name to the White House for consideration.

But Luckily, according to the press release for the symposium, lawyers can get 3.5 credits for their required continuing legal education to maintain their law license.

By Paul Kane  |  April 27, 2007; 2:14 PM ET
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The hits on Gonzales keep on coming. Hopefully he will remain for the full duration of Bush*s remaining term, and they can both leave office together knowing they have destroyed the Republican Party once and for all.

Posted by: J Yoo | April 27, 2007 2:50 PM | Report abuse

I agree with the above these current Republicans have really give the Democrates the "Slam Dunk" they wanted.
Ops sorry for the pun. :)

Posted by: skaren | April 27, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that fired U.S. Attorney Carol Lam of San Diego was voted today "Outstanding Attorney of the Year" by the San Diego County Bar Association. So much for the incompetence explanation. Her real crime appears to have been indicting my former Congressman "Duke" Cunningham for corruption. That irritated his San Diego buddy Republican Congressman Darrell Issa, who accused her of not prosecuting enough illegal aliens. Funny her firing also terminated her investigation of Republican congressman Jerry Lewis.

Posted by: Steve Goetsch | April 27, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I hate to say it but will this change anything? The smoking gun is already out in the open.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | April 27, 2007 5:33 PM | Report abuse

I believe the firings of the United States attorneys is one of the most important stories of the Bush administration because it revealed the level of illegal activities. The so-called missing e-mails, including the RNC records, are the key to this issue and most of the other illegal and unethical things that this administration has done and continues to do. I am disappointed that the firings have not received greater traction, perhaps because it is a bit complex.

Posted by: Gardenia | April 27, 2007 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Good for these three. The more often it is repeated and stays in the news the better. Then finally some of those diehard republican supporters might just finally wake up to the fact that this administration isn't working for the country but for the party. I am sure they would be yelling for the head of a democratic president if these same events were happening. It is time to finally bring an end to this disgusting double standard.

Posted by: visitor | April 28, 2007 12:14 AM | Report abuse

*I believe the firings of the United States attorneys is one of the most important stories of the Bush administration,* writes Gardenia. I can*t agree, I vote for the disasterous handling of Hurricane Katrina, both then and now, as number one. James Lee Witt, appointed by Clinton, was the shining light of FEMA. Oh, well, so much incompetence and corruption, it is difficult to pick the best of the worst....

Posted by: NMAIF | April 28, 2007 1:44 AM | Report abuse

These Prosecutors were maligned when it was dishonestly and unfairly claimed that they were being sacked for incompetence. I think that they should so the liars. Gonzales and Bush each deserve a writ seeking damages for the maligning. I hope that these guys expose Bush and Gonzales as unashamed liars.

Posted by: Robert James | April 28, 2007 1:44 AM | Report abuse

when the NW secedes, we can use these three to head our new, improved justice dept.

i used to kid about this with other friends who have read "ecotopia", not so sure i'm kidding now.

weird feeling.

Posted by: pre AmeriKKKan | April 28, 2007 5:03 AM | Report abuse

Iglesias said he felt pressured him to bring indictments against Albuquerque Democrats.

I believe that the above syntax is incorrect and should be

Iglesias said he felt pressured by him to bring indictments against Albuquerque Democrats.

Posted by: Jagannathan Viswanathan | April 28, 2007 6:20 AM | Report abuse

It looks that transcribing the article has been outsourced. It is incorrect to capitalize the "L" in Luckily below

But Luckily, according to the press release for the symposium, lawyers can get 3.5 credits for their required continuing legal education to maintain their law license.

Posted by: Jagannathan Viswanathan | April 28, 2007 6:24 AM | Report abuse

I agree that the longer we can keep this story in the news, the better,
there are so many new atrocities daily that it is hard to keep the focus on yesterday's news! We have almost forgot most of them as new ones appear daily.

Posted by: jmjensen | April 28, 2007 7:51 AM | Report abuse

I'm liking the postings here and I can't wait to join the discussions...
I found some video clips on this topic here at

Posted by: marthglib | April 28, 2007 8:49 AM | Report abuse

Political appointees who are above politics. I'm loving every minute of this. I hope Rove will fire some more.

Posted by: Ralph | April 28, 2007 9:26 AM | Report abuse

What an overcooked tempest in a teapot... in the first instance, loyalty to Republican causes and personalities got them the jobs, competency was a secondary consideration. Why all this whimmpering and crying?

Posted by: Stan | April 28, 2007 2:34 PM | Report abuse

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Posted by: Gambrinus | April 28, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations to these courageous former US attorneys for keeping this story alive. Let us hope it will stay that way until Bush, Cheney, Rove, Gonzales et al. are impeached, in jail or both.

Posted by: semakweli | April 29, 2007 8:02 PM | Report abuse

The desire of Gonzales to keep his job is a blessing. We Dems have been able to point to a new story each day as the practice of the Justice Department to use the Attorneys for political purposes unfolds. We can keep up this daily dung drop on Gonzales the administration for weeks to come. Goodling has not even testified yet. Hang in there Gonzo

Posted by: c perry | April 29, 2007 9:06 PM | Report abuse

I know you might have been joking, but I'm disturbed by the implication in your lead that a congressional reporter isn't interested in public policy.
This is one of the key problems with political reportage in the U.S. and especially Washington: The overwhelming interest in style, perceptions and conventional wisdom. The lack of interest in what's actually happening in our government. Policy is dismissed as boring and complicated. (For example, the debate over Reids comment that the war is lost initially seemed strangely distant from any discussion of military strategy, and what winning means.)
This is actually more a problem for campaign coverage, not congressional coverage. But still, it annoyed.

Posted by: bbn | April 30, 2007 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Maybe they can meet with Bill Gates and get those 5 million deleted e-mails back...

Posted by: braultrl | April 30, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I hope WaPo sends someone to the seminar to gather more insight from the fired U.S. Attorneys but also from a broad spectrum of the legal profession because it appears to this American that the U.S. Attorney offices around the country have been turned into the muscle, the real arm-twisting, knee-capping, grave-filling muscle, of Crime Incorporated, aka the Republican Party, a corrupt and feculent camorra if ever there was one.

It appears we have now reached a period in our history that every American called to serve on a federal jury must weigh all the evidence with a prejudice against the government to counterbalance the corrupt thumb of the Goombah U.S. Attorney pressing down on the other side of the scales.

In short, the DoJ has fallen into such ill repute that every American serving on a federal jury must look past the defendant and ask him or herself if the U.S. Attorney is performing some sort of a bada-bing political hit, and if they believe it is a bada-bing prosecution they must acquit irrespective of the evidence presented because the evidence is probably as cooked as if it came directly from Big Tony Mascatiillo's Pizzaria and James "Pudgy" Fiorello's Strip Club not from the once trusted, formerly thought of as above political machinations U.S. Attorney's Office.

Posted by: D Stilphen | April 30, 2007 5:16 PM | Report abuse

The vast centrist conspiracy to demand an explanation for Alberto Gonzalez Justice Department's cultlike recruiting and employment practices was not satisfied by his comical appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The upcoming appearance before the House Judiciary Committee will be even more revealing now they've had several months to proble Alberto's activities. I think that he'd better practice until then to answer some very informed questions!

Posted by: Charles Bowman | May 1, 2007 7:20 AM | Report abuse

All roads lead to Rove.

Posted by: CLG | May 1, 2007 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"when the NW secedes, we can use these three to head our new, improved justice dept."

You are actually Canadians: you just don't know it yet.

Posted by: Eric Yendall | May 1, 2007 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I applaud AG Ashcroft, who, as we have learned from Mr. Iglesias, advised each new U. S. Attorney (USA) on an individual basis of the need for them to check their politics at the door.

The mishandling of the recent USA replacements has caused the light of day to begin to fall on the political calculations used to replace at least 4 of the 8 people fired on or about December 7, 2006. Three of the replaced USAs appear to hsve not prosecuted Democratic targets with the acceptable sense of urgency asked for by outsiders or politicians.

The above triggered queries about politics based cases being prosecuted in other jurisdictions. The thought being that if the "8" weren't doing enough what were the other USAs doing to avoid scrutiny? Recent articles in the press have mentioned stats which show significant increases in cases being brought. In addition, the distribution of cases is 80% Democrats and 20% Republican. Of equal concern is that less than 20% go to trial, the processing time is sometimes in years, and the conviction rate is then only around 10%.

The Republican mantra in 2000, 2002, and 2004 was that elections have consequences.
The consequences are beginning to rain down on our heads now. More than 35,000 families are feeling the consequences as they bury their dead heroes and help their wounded heroes put their shattered bodies and lives back together. Our children and grand children will also suffer the consequences of the above noted elections until our financial house is in order.

I can't find it in my heart to say that the Bush Administration acted with malice aforethought. I believe that they sought to serve, saw no harm in doing good for their friends at the same time and were people of conviction and faith. That they lacked vision, candor, and the inability to staff their administration with anything besides toadies, sycophants, and incompetent people is disheartening. The exceptions are few and far between. You need only compare Bush versus Clinton position by position (pre Josh Bolten and Paulson who are good but too late) to see the disparities.

Pray that our country survives intact.

Joe Grecco

Posted by: Joe Grecco | May 1, 2007 6:39 PM | Report abuse

CHARLES BOWMAN: Just a comment regarding your post, that Gonzales needs to practice hard for his upcoming House Judiciary Committee inquiry ...

How hard is it to say "I don't know" and "I don't recall"????? It makes me laugh and reminds me that he looks and sounds as stupid as Bush.

I guess the hard part was practicing 5 HRS. A DAY to say "I don't recall" WITH A STRAIGHT FACE. The EASY part for him was the LYING, as they all seem to be so "practiced" at that.

Posted by: Cheryl | May 3, 2007 9:17 AM | Report abuse

So why is that Pathological Liar and Bush
Co-War Criminal Mr Torture Shyster US Atty
General Crazy Alberto Gonzales still our
US Attorney General after his lies to Our
US Congress? So is Bush's Democrat
Clo-President AWOL Speaker Madame Nutty
Nancy Pelosi Blocking Gonzales Impeachment
just like Nancy Pelosi is the Impeachment
of The Commander Guy FUBAR War Criminal
George W Bush and Co-War Criminal Draft
Dodger Turned Deranged Vice President Dirty
Dickey Cheney? If So Throw Pelosi out of
Congress and Impeach her,Bush,Cheney and
Gonzales and Condileezza Rice!

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