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Another Justice Official Steps Down

Last one out of Justice Department HQ, please turn out the lights.

OK, so it's not that bad. But, this afternoon, another top Justice Department official resigned his position in the wake of the U.S. attorney firing scandal. William W. Mercer, who for the past 10 months has been acting associate attorney general, announced just before 4 p.m. he was withdrawing his nomination to be confirmed to that post -- the No. 3 official at what insiders call "Main Justice" -- and returning to Montana to be U.S. attorney there.

Mercer, who has spent just three days a month in Big Sky Country, according to testimony from the ongoing investigation of the mass firings last year, was slated to have his confirmation hearing Tuesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Reading the tea leaves, he withdrew, citing what he considered the unlikelihood of being confirmed in a timely manner.

"The prospects of my confirmation seem as distant today as they have been over much of the last 10 months," he wrote to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. [Read Mercer's full letter.]

Of course, with his nomination hearing on Tuesday, it's possible the committee would have rendered its verdict in July and just rejected the nomination. Mercer was not a central player to the U.S. attorney firings, but was involved in some discussions with the fired prosecutors. And, as my Washington Post colleague Dan Eggen wrote back in May, Mercer played a key role in changing a provision in the Patriot Act reauthorization in late 2005 and early 2006 that changed the law to say that U.S. attorneys could serve at main Justice without having to meet residency requirements back in their home states. Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) has introduced legislation removing that provision, reinstating residency requirements. That bill is in the Judiciary Committee now.

Mercer is the sixth Justice official to resign since the scandal erupted. The others are:

* D. Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Gonzales;
* Monica Goodling, former Gonzales counsel and liaison to the White House;
* Michael Battle, former chief of the executive office of the U.S. Attorneys;
* Paul McNulty, deputy attorney general;
* Michael Elston, chief of staff to McNulty.

The state of play in Gonzales's inner circle was summed up this way by one of his main opponents, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.):

"The Attorney General is running out of fall guys. Six resignations into the U.S. Attorney firing scandal, the Attorney General inexplicably still acts as though he has the confidence and support of the country. He has neither."

By Paul Kane  |  June 22, 2007; 5:34 PM ET
Categories:  Ethics and Rules  
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Comments

There'll be no justice at the DOJ until the last Bush appointee is in jail or on the run.

Posted by: mikeasr | June 22, 2007 7:10 PM | Report abuse

are we still having fun shopping till we drop at the mall?

Posted by: mikie44 | June 22, 2007 11:18 PM | Report abuse

this administration is nothing more than a criminal enterprise !!

Posted by: Anonymous | June 23, 2007 12:04 AM | Report abuse

this newspaper is a crock but someone has to be here to remind you of that, even in the little comment section. the us attorney scandal owes it's life to mcclatchey and to bloggers that pay attention and will continue to pay attention to the so-called "journalism" of wapo.

if i bought the print version, i would not use it for news but for toilet paper.

Posted by: pre-Amerikkkan | June 23, 2007 2:03 AM | Report abuse

Pre-Amerikkkan pretender - neocon right wing fascist swine - hear me: When I go take a Bush or a Chaney, I have to use lots of toilet paper because it smears - like Gonzales and is hard to get rid of.

Posted by: NM patriot | June 23, 2007 6:35 AM | Report abuse

This stream of Justus Department officials
resigning reminds me of rats leaving a sinking ship.If there's any good to come of all this it's getting shed of a group of people that didn't have the interest of the country or the American people at heart. There's another several hundred that need to go to give us the governing body we deserve. Hopefully the next election will bring a much needed change for the future.

Posted by: Bird103 | June 23, 2007 9:24 AM | Report abuse

Let him go play with Conrad Burns. They can make fun of volunteer firefighters and protect private landowners from fly fishers. How sad that every remaining US attorney is now considered a Monica Goodling approved Bush toadie who would gladly subvert Justice for the Political interests of the Republican Party. Go Mercer, ride that pygmy pony through the dental floss bush.

Posted by: thebob.bob | June 24, 2007 1:46 AM | Report abuse

Zappa4president!

Posted by: MONtannaSOON | June 24, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Why can't the UNITED STATES DEPT OF JUSTICE FIND OUT WHO CREATED THE LIST THAT WAS USED TO FIRE THE NINE PROSECUTORS All WE HAVE GOTTEN WAS IT WASN'T ME!!! WHY CAN'T THEY TELL US. IF THERE IS NOTTHING HERE BUT WITCH HUNT WHY CAN'T THE UNITED STATES JUSTICE DEPT ANSWER A SIMPLE QUESTION If YOU DON'T SEE THIS AS INCOMPETENCE, YOU ARE NOT SMART ENOUGH TO VOTE

Posted by: Harvey | June 25, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Is Alberto Gonzales still in his position because he is hispanic? We seem to have a white house that promotes every illegal act they can find. We american want the these illegal criminals thrown out of the country. What is so hard with understanding this request. Mr. Gonzales has broken the law on several occassions yet he still is the top law enforcement officer. If the A.G. can break our laws then there are no laws worth standing up for.

Posted by: Keith Pollard | June 25, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Is Alberto Gonzales still in his position because he is hispanic? We seem to have a white house that promotes every illegal act they can find. We american want the these illegal criminals thrown out of the country. What is so hard with understanding this request. Mr. Gonzales has broken the law on several occassions yet he still is the top law enforcement officer. If the A.G. can break our laws then there are no laws worth standing up for.

Posted by: Keith Pollard | June 25, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Apparently the Republican party did not pay much attention to the Mid Term Elections, perhaps they need reminded in '08. If they can not hear the American People screaming "ENOUGH" then they need to be removed from office. I think the Preamble stills starts "WE THE PEOPLE", unless of course Bush & Cheney have rewritten it.

Posted by: Martha | June 25, 2007 11:39 AM | Report abuse

We just need to flush the rest of the Republican sewage out of the system in the next election!

Posted by: jmouse | June 25, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Evil begets evil

Posted by: Bill MacLeod | June 25, 2007 10:52 PM | Report abuse

Alberto Gonzales is not a crook! I think he is just in over his head at the DOJ.

Alberto Gonzales is incompetent and inept as a leader!

Alberto Gonzales is a joke. He's worse than Janet Reno and that takes some doing.

Why can't he just resign for the good of the country? Why must we waste time pointing out his numerous blunders and ineptitude at a cost of millions?

I want to point out that I'm a conservative so this is not party bashing.

Posted by: Bewildered | June 26, 2007 11:43 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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