The empty scandal

David Rivkin & Lee Casey:

It is obvious by now that the U.S. Attorney "scandal" is no scandal at all. After nearly five months of congressional investigations and hearings, there is no evidence that anyone, either at the White House or Justice Department, acted inappropriately let alone illegally in replacing a group of U.S. Attorneys after the 2004 elections. Significantly, the recent and much anticipated testimony of former Justice Department/White House liaison Monica Goodling, while very troubling in other respects, also failed to suggest that any improper motivations played a part in what was, at bottom, no more than a badly handled personnel action.
It is certain, however, that the administration's congressional opponents will not let the matter drop. Not only does the affair offer an opportunity to bloody President Bush politically, but it is part of a larger effort to undercut the presidency itself.
Top federal prosecutors are, and should be, subject to removal by the president. The Constitution vests all of the federal government's executive power in the president and expressly requires him to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." Consequently, when the vast federal law enforcement apparatus acts, it is doing so on the president's behalf exercising his authority. That is why federal prosecutors, investigators and other law enforcement officials must follow the president's policies and priorities and why most senior jobs are filled by political appointees including the 93 U.S. Attorneys.
This, in fact, is how American democracy works. A president is entitled to fill the federal government's 3,000 or so political positions, from cabinet secretaries to special assistants, with his own loyalists so as to ensure that his program the platform on which he was elected by the American people will be implemented. The most senior of these appointments including United States Attorneys must also be confirmed by the Senate. Once installed, however, all political appointees, including U.S. Attorneys, serve at the president's pleasure. They can be fired for political reasons.
Every U.S. Attorney understands this. They are not "career prosecutors." And, while many U.S. Attorneys are brilliant lawyers, most got the job because of politics whether in the form of connections to the president, his political party, or important members of Congress, or an ideological compatibility, or all of the above.
Although these particular individuals were treated shabbily in the process, for which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has publicly apologized, like all other political appointees, they have no legal or moral right to complain when they are displaced by someone with better political credentials....
Anyone who does not think that political considerations were used when Clinton fired 93 US attorneys and replaced them with Democrats is just too naive. And do you think that the 93 Democrat prosecutors didn't look to their Democrat friends for "career" prosecutors? The problem Monica Goodling ran into is that she was just not as subtle in applying the political standards asher Democrat predecessors were. In other words, she was just more honest and straight forward in her approach.

Captain's Quarters confirms my speculation on the Democrats approach, however it may not have been subtle either.

The Prowler at the American Spectator reports that the next scandal at the Department of Justice may reflect very poorly on the White House -- the Clinton White House. While the Democrats rant over Monica Goodling's unsurprising revelation that the DoJ considered political connections for political appointments, the Prowler reports that the Janet Reno-led DoJ did the exact same thing:

"We knew the political affiliation of every lawyer and political appointee we hired at the Department of Justice from January 1993 to the end of the Administration," says a former Clinton Department of Justice political appointee. "We kept charts and used them when it came time for new U.S. Attorney nominations, detailee assignments, and other hiring decisions. If you didn't vote Democrat, you weren't going anywhere with us. It was that simple."

In fact, according to this source, at least 25 career DOJ lawyers who were identified as Republicans were shifted away from jobs in offices they held prior to January 1993 and were given new "assignments" which were deemed "noncritical" or "nonpolitically influential." When these jobs shifts came to light in 1993, neither the House nor Senate Judiciary committees chose to pursue an investigation.

This is the same issue that has caused a wave of criticism from the Democrats in Congress during this session....

Told you so.


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