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Unfortunately I believe that we are limited in what we can focus on. I think that if we proceed with the partisan sideshow of prosecuting Bush admin. officials, healthcare will get lost in the brouhaha.
— Posted by denamom, Obama's Quandary...

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Probe: Politics Behind U.S. Attorney Firings

POSTED: 01:16 PM ET, 09/29/2008 by Derek Kravitz

Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey today appointed a special prosecutor to continue investigating the Department of Justice's controversial firings of nine U.S. attorneys, after releasing a report that portrays through e-mails and memos how some officials worked to oust attorneys viewed as politically uncooperative.

After the 358-page report (PDF) was released, Mukasey appointed a career prosecutor, acting Connecticut U.S. Attorney Nora R. Dannehy, to pursue possible criminal charges against Republicans who were involved in the firings.

"The report makes plain that, at a minimum, the process by which nine U.S. Attorneys were removed in 2006 was haphazard, arbitrary and unprofessional, and that the way in which the Justice Department handled those removals and the resulting public controversy was profoundly lacking," Mukasey said in a statement.

Much of the report's most "troubling" allegations focuses on the firing of former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias, who apparently angered Republican lawmakers in his home state after launching a criminal task force to investigate allegations of voter fraud. His departure was "engineered," investigators say, by the offices of Sen. Pete V. Domenici and Rep. Heather A. Wilson.

The report also alleges that other Republican lawmakers, including Missouri Sen. Christopher S. "Kit" Bond, played a part in the firings of their home-state attorneys.

"Our investigation found significant evidence that political partisan considerations were an important factor in the removal of several of the U.S. Attorneys," the report said.

Former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales "bears primary responsibility" for how the attorneys were fired, the report said, adding that he was "remarkably unengaged." But the Justice Department will not recommend a grand jury to investigate possible criminal charges against Gonzales, The Post's Carrie Johnson reports.

Instead, the report found that Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, was the architect of the firing process and that his comments under oath to Congress and to other White House aides were "misleading."

Two of the attorneys, Margaret Chiara of Michigan and Kevin Ryan of California, were found to have erred in managing their offices, which, in part, prompted their removals (Ryan's firing was deemed appropriate).

The criminal probe into the firings will now be handled by Dannehy, who will try and speak to several lawmakers, their staffers and former White House aides who refused to speak to the Department of Justice inspector general's investigators.

By Derek Kravitz |  September 29, 2008; 1:16 PM ET Hot Documents
Previous: Bailout Deal, DOJ Firings, Stevens Trial | Next: Stevens Judge 'Livid' After Witness Sent Home


Please email us to report offensive comments.

"New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias, who apparently angered Republican lawmakers in his home state after launching a criminal task force to investigate allegations of voter fraud. His departure was "engineered," investigators say, by the offices of Sen. Pete V. Domenici and Rep. Heather A. Wilson.

The report also alleges that other Republican lawmakers, including Missouri Sen. Christopher S. "Kit" Bond, played a part in the firings of their home-state attorneys.

"Our investigation found significant evidence that political partisan considerations were an important factor in the removal of several of the U.S. Attorneys," the report said."

Political enemies must be prosecuted! That's the Republican way.

Book 'em.

Posted by: thebob.bob | September 29, 2008 1:54 PM

I seem to remember Bill Clinton firing dozens of people when he took office - will the media attention here reflect on that as well?

Posted by: John Locke | September 29, 2008 2:04 PM


Posted by: John B. | September 29, 2008 2:06 PM

This is how republicans govern. They win elections by not counting all of the votes and fire US Attorneys who try to investigate voter fraud. I love how Alberto Gonzales will get away with this and will probably allow his Chief of Staff to take the hit - I'm sure he had no idea what was going on.

Yet another accomplishment of the Bush Administration!

Posted by: DemRep | September 29, 2008 2:14 PM

Actually, when Clinton took office, he fired all 93 US attorneys. It would be difficult to argue that the firing of all 93 US attorneys was politically motivated.

Posted by: Wilson Yeung | September 29, 2008 2:15 PM

Oh boy this is great news. I hope they really get to the bottom (or top) of this: our very own VP Dick Cheney.

Posted by: yada | September 29, 2008 2:16 PM

Hummmmmm! I smell something fishy here! Looks like the Bushies are trying to stay ahead of the curve by putting some of their own people in charge of investigating themselves. Otherwise they might have to contend with a "real" investigation when the new administration (assuming it's Obama) takes over. It's the old Bush Preemptive approcah.

Posted by: Johann Wagener | September 29, 2008 2:17 PM

Maybe if the democrats hadn't been busy with useless proceedings to make republicans look bad they could have done something about the bad loan standards they created and refused to regulate. No instead they figured the bad economy would help them in the elections and they'd bail out all of their contributors making the american people lose out. After all whatever will get democrats elected is good.

Posted by: Cryos | September 29, 2008 2:18 PM

Hopefully if albertito goes down. Cheney may be the big tree to fall next...God only hopes.

Posted by: higher | September 29, 2008 2:18 PM

john locke,
the difference between clinton and bush's firings is that clinton's were done when he first came into office which is a totally accepted practice and done by many, if not most administrations. bush's firings were not done in that manner at all.

Posted by: TruePatriot | September 29, 2008 2:24 PM


A nation of illegal political motitavtiors

Posted by: Lioncon | September 29, 2008 2:25 PM

so cryos, you are saying we should ignore criminal activity by this administration?

Posted by: TruePariot | September 29, 2008 2:29 PM

Clinton is not ontrial it Bush's idiots

Posted by: Anonymous | September 29, 2008 2:41 PM

Posted by: Bob | September 29, 2008 2:44 PM

To Wilson Yeung who says, "it would be difficult to argue that the firing of all 93 US attorneys was politically motivated," I say no problem at all. Here is what a WSJ editorial of March 14th, 2007 [The Hubbell Standard] said about those firings.

"Equally extraordinary were the politics at play in the firings. At the time, Jay Stephens, then U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia, was investigating then Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski, and was 'within 30 days' of making a decision on an indictment. Mr. Rostenkowski, who was shepherding the Clinton's economic program through Congress, eventually went to jail on mail fraud charges and was later pardoned by Mr. Clinton."

Posted by: Observer | September 29, 2008 2:47 PM

Both Clinton and Bush had the right to fire any or all of the attorneys in question.

If you prosecute one you should prosecute the other too.

Bill fired them sooner because he knew the things he was going to do were not beyond reproach.

Posted by: Rexreddy | September 29, 2008 2:48 PM

As was well noted when these issues first came up, a broad-sweep firing of this full set of US attorneys at the start of a new administration has been done by both Democrats and Republicans, is not considered an uncommon or improper practice and is very very different from the firings at issue here.

Posted by: Eric | September 29, 2008 3:02 PM

I agree, Rexreddy, but Clinton was actually interested in firing only 1 of the 93, the one investigating Rostenkowski. But he could hardly fire just Jay Stephens. It would have been as plain as could be why he was firing Stephens. Besides, what reason could he have given?

I can't recall what Clinton offered up as the reason for firing them all, false as it was when it comes to the real reason, but if it was to rid holdovers from Bush 41's administration, that would have been fair.

I actually think Bush 43 should have done the same thing when he took office. The only difference would have been that Bush 43 was doing it for the stated reason whereas Clinton did it as a cover for another reason.

Posted by: Observer | September 29, 2008 3:11 PM

thebob.bob - every president fires attorneys when he first takes office, i believe. this was something different my friend... this was an all-out political vetting (including interviews asking straight out about party affilitaion!) that was continual, unapologetic, and would not have stopped except for gonzales being such a bumbling moron. i hope he gets the chair. i remember in dante's inferno the circle of hell reserved for those who were entrusted to uphold justice and instead perverted it to their own ends. he will fit in nicely with the rest.

Posted by: brandon | September 29, 2008 3:40 PM

this has gone on for too long its 8 years and millions of dollars for this farce the dems will not do whats good for this country they act like rabid dogs for 8 years they have nothing to show but hearings and bush will leave with no charges of wrong doing so one of two things you can say 1 the dems like nancy and harry are in bed with bush or 2 bush is smarter then the dems so why would anyone vote for a dem

Posted by: wtobias | September 29, 2008 3:51 PM

Another political witch -hunt! That's the whole problem in Washington!!! WAY TOO PARTISAN!!! How 'bout we fix the economy,talk to Russia about cooperationg with one another,talk about fixing or ELIMINATING the U.N.,get affordable health care for everyone,STOP illegal immigration,improve education and protect ourselves from lunatic,radical terrorists...just for starters:and quit the petty ,internacine fighting between Repubs/Dems.

Posted by: Mr. Magoo | September 29, 2008 3:58 PM

In case nobody has noticed, politics is simply dirty. These "investigations" are to keep our eye off the real ball. Our debt. Once our debt is realized as unsustainable by the rest of the world, our position in the world will sink quickly. Fortunes will have been made but at the common man's expense. In the end it will make the Great Depression not seem bad at all.

Posted by: BOB | September 29, 2008 4:01 PM

Only a complete moron would even attempt to blame this latest incarnation of a Bush bankrupcy on the democratic party or any of the many republicans who are running from that family of crimminals like cowards from a front line fire fight of which none of them have ever had any expeirience in one. I wonder why the Saudis haven't tossed in some of the graft the Bushies have funneled their way to at least prolong this until they could blame Obama for it? They have bailed every other Bush disaster in the past.

Posted by: anOPINIONATEDsob | September 29, 2008 4:40 PM

Brandon, it does not matter the reason why they were dismissed! Every president -- including President Clinton -- had/has the right to dismiss appointed people. When I talked about Clinton firing all 93, yes that was his right. But there was an ulterior motive in his case, that being that he wanted to use a blanket firing to get rid of that one special guy investigating Rostenkowski.

Each of us has to be fair here. I hated Clinton, you hate Bush. But surely you wouldn't argue that any president should have to work with appointed people whose main interest is sabotaging your wishes.

Posted by: Observer | September 29, 2008 5:00 PM

Iglesias Hopes Special Counsel Will Find Criminal Violations in Attorney Firings

A special prosecutor appointed Monday to further probe the firings of nine U.S. Attorneys will hopefully find enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and aides who had served with him at the agency, said David Iglesias, the former New Mexico U.S. Attorney whose dismissal in December 2006 was singled out as the most egregious case of partisan politics in a scathing 390-page report by the Justice Department’s internal watchdog.

Posted by: ThePublicRecord | September 29, 2008 5:33 PM

To John Locke and some of the other neocons who shield their eyes from the truth:

It is common practice to remove all or most US Attorney's at the start of a term. The positions are sometimes used as a farm system to develop the Federal Court System. AND one may fire a US Attorney for a good reason, or no reason, but one cannot fire a US Attorney for the wrong reason (politics). In this case, as has been the case in nearly every other cabinet level department since bush took office, the firings and hirings have been made by placing politics ahead of performance.

For decades to come the debate will rage whether this administration was the most incompetent or the most unethical. History will have the final say.

Posted by: MildlyMisanthropic | September 30, 2008 7:10 AM

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