Tuesday, March 20, 2007

White House was laying groundwork to oust Patrick Fitzgerald

Just when you think this scandal might ebb...it flows.

There was a massive email dump from the Department of Justice last night, 3000 documents...there'll be lots of interesting info forthcoming from that cesspool.

No more midnight appointments of new U.S. attorneys by the A.G. under cover of the Patriot Act. Senate approval has been restored.

There could be bigger obstruction of justice issues to be investigated involving Gonzales.

We learned of evidence that political motivations were almost certainly behind the firing of one of the highest profile U.S. attorneys, Carol Lam of California. Lam had successfully prosecuted a Republican congressman, Randy "Duke" Cunningham, and in February of this year had indicted a CIA official and a defense contractor with ties to that congressman. The Duke Cunningham scandal, replete with hookers and poker, along with Mark Foley, Haggard et al., was one of the driving forces behind the Republicans loss of control of the Congress in November. Karl Rove believed that to be true. Today we learned, via the magic of email, that Lam was specifically identified by Gonzales' deputy as a "problem" and described to the White House in those terms the day after she had issued search warrants in connection with the Cunningham scandal: Prosecutor's Firing Was Urged During Probe. Coincidence? Think Rove might have had it in for Lam who had the audacity to investigate Republicans and publicize their corruption before the election? Yeah, I think he might have been really motivated to put a plan of action together to ensure he'd have more reliable partisans in place prior to '08.

And still on the Lam/Rove connection, we also learned today that there's no evidence to support Rove's claims that Lam's record on immigration cases was the reason she was fired. Rove's cited it publicly on two occasions now as justification for her firing. Oops.

And perhaps the biggest news of the day...check out this line in the NYTimes early coverage of the email dump from last night - the Bushies hubris actually had them contemplating removing Patrick Fitzgerald:
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the United States attorney in Chicago who recently led the successful prosecution of I. Lewis Libby Jr., who was a top aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, was on a list of prosecutors whose performance was ranked as “not distinguished” on a list Mr. Sampson sent to the White House in March 2005, Justice Department officials say.

The list was released last week by the department, but the names of most United States attorneys were deleted, except for some of those who were dismissed.

Mr. Fitzgerald was never seriously considered for removal, say Justice Department officials, who said the list represented the thinking of Mr. Sampson, who resigned last week as Mr. Gonzales’ top aide. (emphasis added)
Ranking Fitzgerald in this manner was clearly done in conjunction with the plan to oust others. It makes sense to believe that he would also be considered for removal given his "disloyalty." What's the reaction to this peevish move on the part of the Bushies? Justice types are outraged:
Mary Jo White, who supervised Fitzgerald when she served as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan and who has criticized the firings, said ranking him as a middling prosecutor "lacks total credibility across the board."

"He is probably the best prosecutor in the nation -- certainly one of them," said White, who worked in the Clinton and Bush administrations. "It casts total doubt on the whole process. It's kind of the icing on the cake."

Fitzgerald has been widely recognized for his pursuit of criminal cases against al-Qaeda's terrorist network before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and he drew up the official U.S. indictment against Osama bin Laden. He was named as special counsel in the CIA leak case in December 2003 by then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who had recused himself.

Fitzgerald also won the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in 2002 under Ashcroft.

Justice spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said yesterday that "Pat Fitzgerald has a distinguished record as one of the most experienced and well-respected prosecutors at the Justice Department. His track record speaks for itself."
Indeed it does. In fact, you probably couldn't pick a better Attorney General replacement than Patrick Fitzgerald right now.

And about the current A.G....look for Alberto Gonzales to be doing the walk of shame some time in the near future...the White House is officiallly hanging him out to dry.

This plot to remove these attorneys reeks of partisan manipulation, the last thing you ever want to see when it comes to appointing independent prosecutors who have the power to launch criminal investigations and ruin lives. Allowing Karl Rove to be involved in that process? Disgraceful. He's got a lot to answer for and I'm sure Senator Leahy will see that he does.