Thursday, August 02, 2007

Why The U.S. Attorney Scandal Matters

Lost in all the talk about whether to impeach Attorney General Gonzales, or the rampant amnesia of every Bush administration official who's testified before Congress on the firings, is the original reason this scandal emerged.

Nine U.S. Attorneys were fired last year (an election year) for political reasons. Some, like California's Carol Lam, were investigating GOP corruption a little too thoroughly. Others like New Mexico's David Iglesias, refused to do the GOP's bidding in bringing in bogus voter fraud indictments. Etc.

Now the Washington Monthly's Kevin Drum summarizes a new Washington Post story on John Brownlee, a U.S. Attorney from Virginia who almost made the firing block. Here's a list of super, totally coincidental events-
-On October 24th of last year, U.S. Attorney John Brownlee, after years of effort and with the approval of the head of the DOJ criminal division, is a day away from securing a guilty plea from the manufacturer of OxyContin.

-Mary Jo White, a defense lawyer representing an executive for OxyContin's manufacturer, calls Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty to beg for a postponement.

-McNulty tells his chief of staff, Paul Elston, to call Brownlee and ask him to slow down.

-Brownlee declines and announces the settlement.

-Eight days later, Elston puts Brownlee's name on a list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired.

Pundits say there's no real scandal here. So I'm glad these stories keep cropping back up.

But back to the investigation of the scandal, there's now the completely expected news that President Bush is gonna shit out some more executive privilege claims to keep Karl Rove and another political aide, J. Scott Jennings, from testifying. I think we're about two months away from Bush using executive privilege to keep himself from holding press conferences.

Mr. Gonzales, meanwhile, attempts to 'clarify' his previous testimony, poorly as usual.


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