Patterico's Pontifications


Comey on the Fired USAs

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:05 am

James Comey testified yesterday and undercut the Bush Administration case that the fired U.S. attorneys were poor performers. Further details are available from Orin Kerr.

5 Responses to “Comey on the Fired USAs”

  1. The problem with Comey was that he “erred too much on the side of neutrality and independence.” Or as Kerr put it, the “problem”. Sad.

    Crust (399898)

  2. Comey had a relatively narrow window of opportunity to form his opinions, vis-a-vis two other key players in the decision to force out the 8 US Attorneys.

    Comey was the US Attorney in the SDNY from 1/02 to 12/03 — 23 months.

    He was Dep.AG from 12/03 to 7/05 when he resigned — 19 months.

    Two others who were instrumental in evaluating the performance of the US Attorneys forced out were William Mercer and Paul McNulty.

    Mercer was named US Attorney in Montana 4/01 — more than 6 years.

    McNulty was US Attorney in the EDVA from 9/01 to 10/05, and has been DAG from 10/05 to the present — that’s 4 years as US Attorney and 18 months as DAG.

    So, Comey’s view of the performance of the 8 US Attorneys in question is — well, Comey’s view. That doesn’t make it right or wrong.

    And it wasn’t his decision to make.

    WLS (077d0d)

  3. Apparently it was Monica Goodling’s decision to make. Or perhaps more likely she was just the conduit.

    James B. Shearer (fc887e)

  4. I simply don’t understand the point of WLS’s comment. Whether McNulty had 6 years or 60 years of experience isn’t relevant to how US Attorneys got fired, because McNulty has said under oath that he wasn’t responsible for determining, beforehand, the reasons USAs got fired.

    White House officials told the Justice Department group that they needed to agree on clear reasons why each prosecutor was fired and explain them to Congress, McNulty said, according to the aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the transcript of McNulty’s interview hasn’t been made public.

    Over all these months, the DoJ has been unable to provide any specific and coherent explanation of why most of the USAs were fired. Cummins was fired so that Griffin could be installed as a permanent-interim replacement without Senate confirmation, which, given his highly partisan background, might have been a long time coming. Ryan and probably Chiara were incompetent managers and no one is defending them. (Ryan was on Comey’s list, wasn’t he?) We can have a separate thread about Carol Lam, where the Bushbots have their best cover story (yeah, and Lewinsky’s dress was stained with mayonnaise). But the others? In all these weeks, there is still no explanation other than vague and largely retracted complaints about “performance”.

    Of course, the reason is increasingly obvious: in the merger of Party and State, willingness to ignore Republican corruption and concoct investigations into Democrats are plus values at evaluation time. The list of USAs was compiled by Monica Goodling and Kyle Sampson on specific instructions from Rove or one of his deputies. Is this a Bush-hating stretch? No, I don’t think so.

    Margolis recalled that he was stunned to learn the extent of White House involvement in the dismissals, congressional aides said. Margolis testified that preparation for McNulty’s Senate testimony — which took place more than a month before his meetings with Goodling and Sampson — was based on the assumption that the White House only became involved at the end of the firing process, the aide said.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (3079b7)

  5. WLS, McNulty and Mercer’s roles seem to have been pretty minor compared to that of Goodling. So I don’t think you want to go down the road of talking about experience levels.

    Crust (399898)

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