Bending the Third Rail
Because We Should, We Can, We Do
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Prosecutor Round-Up
This is a pretty good summary of the latest in ProsecutorGate. Turns out that the White House originally wanted to fire all of them and put in their own flacks, but decided that might be a wee bit too much:
The idea of firing all the U.S. attorneys was immediately dismissed because it was determined that it would be too disruptive. Instead, Sampson [Abu Gonzales's chief of staff] started working on a smaller list of prosecutors that could be ousted, and [Harriet] Miers was updated throughout most of the decision-making process when several names went back and forth. At least a dozen U.S. attorneys were on a "target list" at some point. Until now, the White House had said it approved the list of fired prosecutors only after the Justice Department put it together.

In October, President Bush spoke with Gonzales and mentioned there were some complaints from Republicans that prosecutors weren't investigating issues relating to voter fraud. The White House insists Bush didn't say any specific prosecutors should be fired, and he may not have even known there was already a process underway to oust some of them.

The Post reveals that Sampson created a list that ranked all U.S. prosecutors. Only three of the eight prosecutors fired were given a low ranking. Two, including David Iglesias of New Mexico, were given strong evaluations. In fact, e-mails reveal that Iglesias was added to the list late in the process, due, at least in part, to complaints from Sen. Pete Domenici. After the firings, Miers' deputy wrote an e-mail saying that Domenici's chief of staff "is happy as a clam." And then a week later Sampson wrote that "Domenici is going to send over names tomorrow (not even waiting for Iglesias's body to cool)." Officials at the Justice Department said they found out only recently about the extensive e-mail exchanges between Miers and Sampson.

Congressional Democrats have called on Karl Rove to testify about his role in the firings. The Post says the e-mails also illustrate how Rove was interested in having a former aide appointed as U.S. attorney in Arkansas. In one e-mail, Sampson wrote: "[G]etting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc."
This was a political operation. I never doubted that and I suspect that everyone in Washington knew it as well. And Congress might be able to investigate and embarrass. But, except for straightening out the Patriot Act on nominating new candidates without Congressional approval, the President is free to name whomever he wants. Unless they find some really big smoking gun, this story will eventually die out.

Update: Some of the pro blogger types disagree with me and think it's going to be a very big thing. We shall see! I wouldn't mind being wrong.