Patterico's Pontifications


The Indefensible Aspects of the U.S. Attorney Firings

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:04 pm

I had a great time on CQ Radio, and ended up agreeing with Ed Morrissey on a number of issues surrounding the U.S. Attorney firings. I haven’t emphasized these in recent days, because I have been busy combatting the Democrat spin that the firings were motivated by a desire to influence political prosecutions. But let me take a step back and make a few things clear:

  • Alberto Gonzales is either a liar or incredibly incompetent. I think he’s a dead man walking. I predict that, late tomorrow (Friday) afternoon, or possibly one week from tomorrow, Alberto Gonzales is going to decide he needs to spend more time with his family.
  • The Kyle Sampson plan to sneak in U.S. Attorneys under a little-known Patriot Act provision had a weaselly appearance to it. It had the immature feel of a little boy saying; “Hey, look! A new bike! Let’s ride it on the freeway!” And I am very upset with his scheming to lie to Congress about it.
  • It looks horrible for Pete Domenici to have called up David Iglesias about a pending case.

That said, I find virtually no evidence in the e-mails to suggest that any U.S. Attorney was targeted because of political prosecutions. And I am convinced that Carol Lam was initially targeted for proper reasons like her inexplicable decision to de-emphasize illegal immigration prosecutions. I think the L.A. Times has distorted the facts with selective quotation, cleverly placed ellipses, and a particularly shameful pattern of rank distortion on the timing of the targeting of Carol Lam.

And if you think I’m done with that issue, think again. I’m just getting started. It’s time for a letter to the Readers’ Representative.

UPDATE: Add to the list of suspicious items the timing of Iglesias’s inclusion on the firing list. (h/t dday, who was rather rude in the way he brought this to my attention.)

47 Responses to “The Indefensible Aspects of the U.S. Attorney Firings”

  1. Why would Carol Lam be targeted when the entire administration has done virtually nothing to impede the invasion, occupation and colonization by mexico?

    It’s a complete dog and pony show when you realize that not a single member of the executive branch has lifted a finger to protect us. Some people will say anything to defend a corrupt administration.

    Clinton was better on immigration that Jorge Arbusto, just as Gray Davis was better at being fiscally conservative than Ah-nold–and you party hacks know it.

    petit bourgeois (375601)

  2. Alberto Gonzales is going to decide he needs to spend more time with his family

    I can’t see that happening. Can you imagine the confirmation hearings for his replacement?

    The replacement wouldn’t stand a chance with the Democrats unless he would trash the administration. They would be asking him how he’s going to clean up the corruption within the administration and that nominee would be required to validate the mostly bogus charges before he’d be confirmed.

    It would be no picnic trying to appeal to the Republicans either. They have their own gripes about the way things have been going at Justice and would have their own demands.

    J Curtis (d21251)

  3. Patterico,
    I understand your point about Domenici and Iglesias, but if people in NM, be they in politics or not, had appropriate concern about something that was not being investigated, what would be the proper route to go? (Of course, there are important qualifiers in my question, such as “appropriate” concerns.)
    The firing of the attorney in Wash state was also reportedly in part because of failure to investigate issues in the governors race there, which seemed to have irregularities.
    Apparently, the complaints were on the failure to investigate, not the failure to prosecute.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  4. It is to bad for the GOP Alberto did not decide to spend more time with his family 3 years ago. He has given the MSM/DNC a lot of ammunition to use on the GOP; with nothing in return!
    A very bad choice by the President!

    Rodney A Stanton (8d6373)

  5. Alberto Gonzales is either a liar or incredibly incompetent.

    This statement I believe is totally on target…

    Yet Gonzales isn’t incompetent regarding the 8 federal prosecutors as even Patterico knows… Those federal prosecutors can be fired by the President for unshined shoes if the President so desires…

    Gonzales’ list of incompentencies are much worse than eight people feeding at the federal trough and our now being told to get real jobs…

    Oh no! Where was Gonzales and the Bush Justice Department on:

    New York Times

    Joe Wilson & Valerie Plame

    Sandy Berger

    wetback invasion

    So what are eight federal D.A.s compared to real problems?

    juandos (c47e6f)

  6. The Wrong Stuff: The Extraordinary Saga of Randy “Duke” Cunningham, the Most Corrupt Congressman Ever Caught

    The Pulitzer Prize-winning team that uncovered the biggest bribery scandal in U.S. history tells the colorfully sordid story of a scandal reaching into the highest levels of the CIA, the Pentagon, and the Congress.
    Duke Cunningham was an All-American success story. The Midwestern boy who went off to war, became a hero and rode his fame into Congress, he even bragged that Tom Cruise played him in a popular movie. But the fall of this “Top Gun” was almost as epic and just as cinematic. Today he sits in prison, branded as the most corrupt member of Congress in U.S. history.

    To the public, Cunningham was a heroic family man. In reality, he was a hard-drinking, partisan bully with a lavish sense of entitlement and feckless moral compass. In the end, he fed rogues like Brent Wilkes and Mitch Wade millions of dollars in vital post-9/11 contracts in exchange for millions in bribes.

    Now, the journalists who won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for sending Cunningham to prison uncover new details in a story still unfolding in Washington. The Wrong Stuff chronicles Cunningham’s rise and his ignominious fall. It is the saga of a man strong enough to brave enemy fire but too weak to resist the corrupt contractors and lobbyists in the nation’s capitol. It is also the story of the dark side of Washington today.

    About the Authors
    The authors were on the team that won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Jerry Kammer has been a correspondent for Copley News Service since 2002. Marcus Stern has been in Copley’s Washington Bureau for twenty-two years. Dean Calbreath has been a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune for more than eight years. George E. Condon Jr. has been Washington bureau chief for Copley since 1984. Stern, Calbreath, and Kammer all received the George Polk award. Stern and Kammer also share the Edgar Poe award.

    AF (f0c94f)

  7. The Cummins ouster in Arkansas has a sleazy feel to it as well. I looked at the e-mails here.

    At a minimum it fits your #2 bullet point above.

    Steven Taylor (3a627d)

  8. Who is Frederick Black?:

    Black was the interim U.S. Attorney for Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands from 1991 until his demotion in May of 2003; that made him the chief federal prosecutor in Abramoff’s playground and so a natural enemy. Back in August of last year, the LA Times broke the story that Black had been demoted from his position the day after he’d issued a grand jury subpoena as part of an investigation into Abramoff’s lobbying for the Superior Court of Guam.

    Your list is gonna get longer.

    AF (f0c94f)

  9. Alberto Gonzales is either a liar or incredibly incompetent.

    I’ll take door #2, Alex.

    thirteen28 (5ad670)

  10. Good post, Patterico.

    Russell (a32796)

  11. Ousted USA: DoJ Smeared USAs with “Fabricated Assertions”

    Speaking by phone today, former U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins made his view of the Justice Department’s firing of seven other U.S. attorneys perfectly clear: not only did the DoJ not fire them for performance-related reasons, but they fabricated such issues to cover that up.

    Cummins is a unique case of the eight prosecutors, since the Justice Department has admitted that he was dismissed for no other reason than to give former aide to Karl Rove, Timothy Griffin, a job.

    “I’ve heard every one of the [Justice Department’s “performance related” issues with the other dismissed US attorneys], and I’m completely convinced at this point that they are fabricated assertions, and that they were in no way on the table when the decisions to dismiss those seven USAs were made,” he told me, continuing:

    “I gave them the benefit of the doubt at the beginning of this. They told me directly that my case was completely different from the others, that there were significant performance issues involved in the other decisions, and if I saw, I’d agree that they’d have to go.
    Now that I’ve seen the decisions, not only don’t I see why they had to go, I see that [the charges of performance issues] are really not true.”

    Cummins, who is a lifelong Republican, even running for the House once in the nineties, says that this was a “”reluctant conclusion,” but one he was forced to reach, and one he felt compelled to speak out about.

    “When they made the decision to lie about these seven people to Congress, that’s when the trouble started,” he said.. Cummins added that if the Justice Department were to retract the statements that the others were fired for deficiencies in performance, “I’ll disappear.”

    AF (f0c94f)

  12. I can occasionally be rude; but I believe that there are a couple distortions in the previous post and I would like to add some additional information for the record.

    Did you consider, for example, the fact that Sen. Feinstein received a letter from Will Moschella at the Justice Department confirming that Carol Lam was prosecuting a requisite number of immigration cases?

    The Department has used the fact that I wrote a letter on June 15 to the Attorney General concerning the San Diego region, and in that I asked some questions: What are the guidelines for the U.S. Attorney Southern District of California? How do these guidelines differ from other border sections nationwide? I asked about immigration cases.

    Here is the response that I got under cover of August 23, in a letter signed by Will Moschella. And I ask that both these letters be added to the record.

    “That office [referring to Mrs. Lam’s office], is presently committing fully half of its Assistant U.S. Attorneys to prosecute criminal immigration cases. Prosecutions for alien smuggling in the Southern District under USC sections 1234 are rising sharply in Fiscal Year 2006. As of March 2006, the halfway point in the fiscal year, there were 342 alien smuggling cases filed in that jurisdiction. This compares favorable with the 484 alien smuggling prosecutions brought there during the entirety of Fiscal Year 2005.”

    The letter goes on to essentially say that Mrs. Lam is cooperating; that they have reviewed it and the Department is satisfied.

    So you claim that she was de-emphasizing border crimes, but you’re essentially quoting the Justice Dept. alibi once removed; the primary source evidence put out before there was any need for an alibi indicates that DoJ was satisfied with Lam’s record on this.

    This would be the stuff that sets me off to be a bit, er, rude.

    [Just tell me these things without accusing me of dishonesty and we’ll be fine. — P]

    [I’ll add that I find the Lam thing confusing. They targeted her before Cunningham. There was no reason to target her over Lewis because that took place in L.A. (something you forgot to mention. How in God’s name is a case in L.A. a reason to target the San Diego USA?) The May 11 e-mail was in response to a request from the day before. So much of the argument espoused by folks like you is quite frankly bullshit. And yet, there is this letter you cite, which undercuts the Administration’s position as well. Who knows what the hell was going on there? — P]

    dday (214da1)

  13. Patterico, did you take a close look at the statistics that accompanied the San Diego article you linked to regarding Lam?

    Immigration prosecutions decreased by about the same proportion as prosecutions in general, and about the same percentage as narcotics cases, the other high number category.

    AND THIS DECREASE IS ONLY FOR THE LAST YEAR OF LAM’S TENURE. The numbers for her first two years are comparable to her predecessors, and in some cases higher. (Granted, in the first year at least, the numbers may result carryover from her predecessor.)

    It looks to me that the complaint should have been about the lack of prosections in general, and not just immigration related cases.

    kishnevi (202292)

  14. To respond to your editorial comment in my last comment, there’s a scenario which plausibly answers both questions. Remember first that the initial plan was to get rid of all 93 USAs. Once that was scrapped, they picked out a few for study. Lam was one and they cited a failure to prosecute certain immigration cases. The letter shows that these prosecutions went up in FY2006 and that “Lam is cooperating;” in other words, they brought the matter to her attention and she complied, which, as she’s a political appointee, nobody should have a problem with, particularly when she’s asked to prosecute crimes. In fact, there’s reference to this discussion within the email chain.

    By June of 2005 (or likely earlier), the Cunningham investigation breaks. Now, May 11, 2006 is an interesting day, because, on the same day that the email featuring the quote “The real problem we have right now with Carol Lam” &c., this LAT article reports that the Cunningham investigation is expanding to look into Lewis as well. Prosecutors follow the evidence, and so your claim that “why would the San Diego USA investigate an LA guy like Lewis” is not credible (as a side note, Lewis isn’t from LA; he represents Redlands and Eastern San Bernardino County to the Nevada and Arizona border); it was part of the Cunningham case. This is also right in the middle of the Porter Goss/Dusty Foggo investigation (Lam’s parting shot was securing an indictment of Foggo and Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes).

    So, the WH and the DoJ see this investigation moving in a dangerous direction, as Lewis has been running something of a criminal enterprise out of the Appropriations Committee for years, and it affects probably every government contractor loyal to the Republican Party. The same day they send out an email referencing “the problem with Carol Lam” and confirm her firing. This explanation incorporates their initial explanation for Lam’s ouster which you reference, and the more politicized one which I believe to be the case.

    And I suppose I could question why I mustn’t accuse you of dishonesty for risk of being labeled rude, but you’re free to characterize the argument of me and people like me as bullshit, but I’d be straying from the facts.

    dday (f3e793)

  15. Dday-

    Don’t sweat it. It/s Patterico’s M.O. He demands civility on the internet from everyone but himself.

    Also, check out how his mistakes are persistently “honest” ones, whereas his opponents are constantly trying to “distort” the facts.


    DoobieBrother#1 (2b549c)

  16. On the plus side, we don’t have to worry about AG getting nominated to the Supreme Court.

    DRJ (53e939)

  17. dday and Doobiewhatever,

    The solution to your conundrum (why did Patterico demand politeness from dday but then call his arguments bullshit?) is simple. I was initially patient with dday because he was making good points, but was doing so rudely. I figured he was worth spending time talking to in a rational manner, and I decided to try not to respond to his rudeness in kind.

    Then I saw his site, where he described me as “last seen outing TBogg” and boasted about taking me on.

    In other words, he is not worth cultivating as a reasonable lefty commenter. He’s just another lefty out to take some cheap shots. In this instance, he has also made some good points, which I will take into account in future posts on this issue. But he has also been pigheadedly stubborn and distorted arguments in a bullshit sort of way. If I had any hope that he would be a reasonable lefty commenter, I’d be more polite about the bullshit. But given his stupid comments on his own site, he doesn’t merit my respect.

    Patterico (04465c)

  18. And you wouldn’t be so kind as to mention what pigheadedly stubborn and distorted arguments those are, now would you?

    Incidentally, you said “he was rude” in your post far before I put up the blurb on Calitics (not my own site), so you have your timeline off.

    I don’t think laying out what I see as distortions in your writing as “taking cheap shots.” It’s just laying out what I see as distortions in your writing and backing them up with facts. You don’t have to take me seriously as a commenter, I really don’t care; but you might want to respond substantively to the facts, lest you relinquish a decent grip on reality with regard to the USA scandal. So the choice is yours; attack the messenger or respond to the message.

    dday (f3e793)

  19. Just tell me these things without accusing me of dishonesty and we’ll be fine.” — P to dday

    I remember seeing the words ‘Clinton did the same thing” in a post here, with a link, and now I can’t find it though the link to the WSJ is still here somewhere. Considering as I said that I have to assume you knew better, I’m perfectly willing to accuse you of dishonesty. I’ve done it before too; but most of the time you’re just slippery. You operate more on faith than logic: faith in what you believe about yourself and about liberals, whom you think of as “leftists.” That annoys me too, since thanks to you and yours so many liberals now posture like leftists while worshipping Clinton. On that note did you know that Richard Mellon Scaife has changed his mind and regrets the attacks on Billory? Now he thinks they weren’t that bad after all!

    Gonzales apologized to the prosecutors not for the firings but for their execution, including for inaccurate public statements about poor job performance, according to people familiar with the afternoon conference call.

    Does those “innaccurate publics statements” include statements to congress?

    AF (f0c94f)

  20. Don’t be fooled by the Moschella letter. Two reasons:

    First, Moscehlla clearly states that the SDCA is CURRENTLY (summer 1996) devoting 1/2 of its AUSAs to border crimes, and the 2006 case filings show the result. The facts are that DOJ had to force Lam to do that, and that for several years she had de-emphasized basic border-enforcement cases in favor of pursuing smuggling “organizations.”

    Its clear from the tenor of Moschella’s letter that he is responding to an inquiry from Feinstein that was motivated by CONCERN from Feinstein’s office about falling border prosecutions. Don’t you think its curious that Feinstein’s letter that prompted this response has not been publicized — I haven’t seen it posted anywhere.

    The reason I suspect this to be true is because Feinstein used a lot of political capital 2-3 years ago to get a couple new judgeships in San Diego on the basis that the number of border-crimes cases was staggering and inundating the judiciary there. If the US Attorney’s Office has a sudden drop in filings on border-crime cases — as the stats in the San Diego Union article point out — Feinstein is left with egg on her face in the Judiciary Comm.

    Second reason Moschella’s letter is less than meets the eye — DOJ isn’t going to air its dirty laundry about issues with Lam in a letter to a home-state Senator. The communication of such concerns might be made in a telephone conversation by senior staffers, but not in a written document that would be quite embarrassing to the US Attorney if made public.

    WLS (1b7f25)

  21. I’ll take on dday, since he obviously lacks the background to understand the context of the emails he’s reading.

    First, there was no “plan” to fire all 93 US Attorneys.

    There were WH Counsel Office personnel who were unfamiliar the consequences of a US Attorney’s 4 year term coming to an end, and seeking info from DOJ about how that is to be handled. This is reflected from a BASIC misunderstanding about when the 4 year terms began and ended. Its clear from reading the exchanges the Miers, et al, assumed the 4 year terms mirrored the President’s first 4 year term. One of Sampson’s first points in his response to the inquiry was to point out that the 4 year terms run from the date of confirmation for each individual US Attorney, and that the first confirmations didn’t occur until Sept. 2001, meaning the earliest the 4 year terms would expire was Sept. 2005. The US Attorney for the EDCA in Sacramento wasn’t confirmed until March 2003.

    Sampson then went to explain how the Reagan and Clinton administrations had dealt with the issue of “holdover” US Attorneys — what happened after the expiration of their 4 year terms — and explained that those who were performing well were generally allowed to simply remain in place and continue.

    The “question” attributed to Rove in one of the emails is simply an inquiry into “what is the process?” “Do we replace the all, do we ask for resignations of all of them, and accept only a few of them, or do we selectively replace them?”

    None of these people are DOJ veterans — they have no institutional knowledge of the historical practices.

    In fact, at the start of the Reagan Administration, AG William French Smith had EVERY US Attorney sign an undated letter of resignation at the time they were confirmed. He made it clear that it would be up to the AG and the President to decide when to date the letter — no exceptions.

    That is the historical practice.

    Clinton “fired” the remaining Bush 41 appointees even though their 4 year terms hadn’t expired simply by demanding their resignations. They all understood the rules, and they all complied.

    Bush 43 did the same thing to the remaining Clinton appointees, with the only exception being that Bush 43 allowed the Clinton appointees to remain in place until a replacement was named if they wanted to, but they were really figureheads since Bob Mueller was the acting AG before Ashcroft was confirmed, and Mueller had been the US Attorney in SF and knew all the holdover Clinton US Attorneys. He knew they would do what he told them to do if they wanted to stay in place until their replacement was named.

    But most political appointees had moved on to lucrative jobs in the private sector — they didn’t need to be pushed out.

    The only difference in this “scandal” and the way US Attorneys have ALWAYS been replaced, is that DOJ has never been aske for an explanation before because Congress has never been so presumptuous as to assume that it was entitled to an explanation for internal personnel matters in federal agencies.

    This scandal is the result of one thing, and one thing only — the love that Senate Dems on the Judiciary Comm. have for seeing themselves on the news.

    WLS (1b7f25)

  22. shorter WLS: The DoJ needs to have the flexibility to lie to Senators.

    Either Moschella lied to Feinstein in summer 2006, in the letter, or he and DoJ staffers lied under oath, to the Judiciary Committee, when they claimed that performance issues were the basis for the firing.

    Which do you think is worse?

    This is also interesting.

    dday (f3e793)

  23. WLS appears to be arguing something that has nothing to do with the central points of the case.

    He doesn’t mention the provision of the Patriot Act that allows DoJ to name a replacement without Senate confirmation.

    He doesn’t mention the lies to Congress to cover up this little scheme to use the power of the USA office as yet another means to attack Democrats and shield Republicans.

    He doesn’t mention phone calls to USAs to pressure them into filing indictments, a la David Iglesias in New Mexico, John McKay in Washington and Bud Cummins in Arkansas, who was threatened with blackmail if he dared speak about these sackings.

    He kind of does an “everybody does it” defense added to a point that the WH was not being evil but simply ignorant of the law.

    In fact, prior to this past year, 2 out of 486 US Attorneys have been forced from their job by a President mid-term in the past 25 years. One of the two was later convicted of a crime. So it’s an exceedingly rare practice. 1993 and 2001 are irrelevant; it’s called rotation in office. There are no outcries when a new President replaces the entire Cabinet, the USAs are no different.

    dday (f3e793)

  24. dday,

    Regarding your timeline of when I saw your site, you are being very, very thick-headed. Read this very, very slowly if necessary. Move your lips if you have to. I won’t watch.

    I considered you merely rude when I read your comments. But I decided to be polite to you and simply ask you not to be rude. THEN I saw your site and realized that you will never be polite to me anyway, so I’m done being polite to you.

    If you can’t understand that “timeline” then it’s no wonder you can’t understand the Lam timeline.

    Regardless, even someone like yourself can make good points, and you have made some. But you have (deliberately? it seems that way) overlooked more significant ones.

    First, Lam was not initially targeted for the Cunningham investigation. I want to see you admit that.

    Second, the Lewis investigation can’t possibly be a reason to target Lam, because Lam wasn’t the one investigating Lewis. You are totally missing the point by talking about prosecutors following the evidence where it takes them, or saying that Lewis isn’t an L.A. guy. None of that matters, my logically challenged friend. The investigation was taking place out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, not for the Southern District, which Lam headed.

    Third, the allegations relating to the nefarious timing of the May 11 e-mail ignore the fact that Sampson was responding to a request from the day before.

    When you look at all of that, it makes no sense to me to believe that the Lam firing was motivated by Cunningham or Lewis.

    The timing on the Iglesias firing seems more suspicious to me.

    Patterico (04465c)

  25. DDay,

    I assume the undeclared focus of your last comment is the word mid-term: Only “2 out of 486 US Attorneys have been forced from their job by a President mid-term in the past 25 years.” Both Clinton and Reagan asked for and received resignations from sitting US Attorneys when they came into office.

    Bush 43’s “sin” is that he considered replacing the US Attorneys on a limited and selected basis during the mid-term instead of opting for clearly partisan appointments at the beginning of his terms.

    DRJ (53e939)

  26. October 1 is when Iglesias’s prosecution of that corrupt scumbag Vigil ground to an ignominious halt, with a conviction on the least serious charge and acquittal on the other 23 charges, which were the heart of the case.

    “Basically, we could not get enough corroboration using the witnesses they used,” said jury foreman Bill Strouse, an employee with the city of Las Cruces. “The difficulty was we needed something to be corroborated because they weren’t believable by themselves.

    This was Iglesias’s demonstration of how tough he was on corruption, and he cratered, getting a hung jury the first try and a peripheral conviction on the second try. He either can’t figure out how to effectively prosecute corruption, or won’t. Either way, it’s time to try someone else.

    Kevin (49602d)

  27. OK, good, now we’re all free from the burdens of civility.

    Carol Lam’s office expanded their Cunningham investigation to include Lewis. The link in #15 explains that; Sen. Schumer outright claims that; and you say it right here.

    Why was Sampson writing Kelley on May 11? Maybe it’s because The Times reported that Carol Lam was investigating Jerry Lewis.

    You make it once removed, and you obviously have another view. But the investigation into Cunningham and the investigation into Lewis are of the same piece, with the same players. The USA in LA, Debra Yang Wong, did send out subpoenas in that case, but to say that the two are disassociated from one another is just silly. Lewis was the head of the Appropriations Committee; Cunningham’s bribes came out of his work on the same committee. Lewis is being scrutinized for his closeness to lobbyist Bill Lowery; one of Lowery’s clients was Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes (indicted by Lam). Only Cunnigham and John Doolittle got more campaign money from Wilkes than Lewis. Lewis and Cunningham often campaigned together and worked in tandem on Pentagon funding requests in the Appropriations committee, the nub of the entire Cunningham case. It’s ridiculous to suggest the two investigations were disconnected.

    Funny story about Debra Wong Yang; after beginning an investigation into Lewis, she was hired away by Gibson, Dunn, the same law firm representing Lewis, to whom he was to date paid $800,000. She didn’t need to be fired; she was lured away.

    I also thought I did already admit that Lam was not initially targeted for the Cunningham investigation, my comment #15 laid out a scenario where we could both be right, one that I feel explains pretty much all the seemingly contradictory information. You appear to have gone from being confused (#13) to being utterly convinced of your own righteousness on this one, despite clear evidence to the contrary.

    dday (9a2754)

  28. dday — normally I wouldn’t respond to “talking points” but the left’s talking points on this subject are so inaccurate and lacking in historical understanding, I have to make an exception. So, several points in response to you two posts:

    1. What parts of Moschella’s letter do you think are inaccurate? Do you think that Feinstein’s letter which led to Moschella’s response questioned the lack of prosecutions in the SDCA, i.e., was critical of Lam’s office’s priorities? If it did, would that exonerate DOJ from the charge that she was removed because she was too aggressive in the Cunningham case (too many distortions on this to cover here, so I’ll address that in a separate post).

    2. Re the Patriot Act — the current provision is absolutely the proper manner for such situations. What possible justification is there for a sitting federal judge to appoint someone to occupy an Exec. branch office that is an appointed position? Is the current arrangement, which allows the Pres. to appoint an interim US Attorney without Senate confirmation subject to possible abuse?? Sure it is.

    Just like when Pres. Clinton appointed Bill Lan Lee as Assist.AG of the Criminal Rights Division when it was clear that he would not get confirmed by the Senate. There was no precedent for that — rather than give Lee a recess appointment which would have only been good through that session of Congress, Clinton simply named Lee the “acting” AAG for Civil Rights, and left him there. That’s pretty much giving the finger to the confirmation process.

    Was there the potential for political abuse under the old system of having judges’ appoint the interim USAttorney? Under the old system, the AG could name an “acting” US Attorney for 90 days, after which time the Presiding Judge in the district would name an “interim” US Attorney until a new political appointee was confirmed.

    If the Presiding Judge of a particular district with a vacant US Attorney position was an extreme liberal like Terry Hatter in LA, or Lawrence Karlton in Sacramento, it would have been in their power to name an extremely liberal, democratic partisan to the position — someone like Ronnie Earle in Texas — even if the GOP controlled the WH.

    If Patrick Leahy decided that he liked what the partisan Democrat US Attorney was doing as the acting US Attorney in that district, he could simply refuse to give a hearing to any nominee sent up by the WH to replace the acting.

    Now, all of this could have happened under the old system. Did it ever? I’m not aware of any such episode, but it was certainly possible.

    Likewise, there is no example yet of the WH using the provision of the Patriot Act to avoid Senate Confirmation altogether. Is it possible? Sure, just like the scenario I outlined above was possible under the old system. How about if we wait to see if it happens before the left goes moonbatty over a non-event.

    I’ve got to duck out for about 2 hours. I’ll address the rest of your posts when I return.

    WLS (1b7f25)

  29. Carol Lam’s office expanded their Cunningham investigation to include Lewis. The link in #15 explains that; Sen. Schumer outright claims that; and you say it right here.

    I fell for the Democrat spin on this, and I will have to correct my post. The link in #15 shows that L.A. prosecutors, not San Diego prosecutors, issued the subpoenas. Sen. Schumer claiming something is virtually evidence that it’s not true, and I made a mistake.

    The LAT reporting makes it clear — though the information is buried, de-emphasized, and decontextualized — that Lam wasn’t investigating Lewis.

    Patterico (04465c)

  30. Two things:

    1. Powerline has a discussion concerning McKay in Washington State:

    2. Concerning Congressional involvment of USAttorney investigations [just because one got away with it doesn’t mean someone else can, but it does mean what’s good for the goose is good for the gander]:

    January 22, 2004
    The Honorable James Comey
    United States Department of Justice
    950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
    Washington, D.C. 20530

    Dear Deputy Attorney General Comey:

    I write to request an update on the investigation into allegations that senior administration officials committed a federal felony by leaking the identity of a covert CIA operative.

    The investigation has been underway for four months now and we have received no meaningful reports regarding the progress you are making. I realize there are limitations on information that can be disclosed regarding an ongoing criminal investigation, but, as we have discussed, a prosecutor has the responsibility to assure public confidence in criminal investigations, especially those of such a serious nature.

    In the wake of recent calls by former intelligence operatives for a Congressional investigation, I write to ask that you publicly answer several questions regarding the progress you are making:

    Has a grand jury been empaneled in this case? Have members of the White House staff signed waivers, permitting journalists to discuss confidential communications? If so, what percent of the White House staff has signed such waivers? Has anyone who has been asked to sign such a waiver refused to do so?

    Have journalists been interviewed as part of the investigation? Has any journalist who has been released from confidentiality (assuming any has), refused to answer questions regarding previously confidential communications?

    Were White House staffers ordered as a condition of employment to submit to interviews? Has anyone asked for or been offered immunity? If so, how many individuals fit in each category and what types of immunity have been asked for and offered to each?

    What other information can you provide us regarding the progress you are making with this investigation?

    I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Charles E. Schumer
    United States Senator

    link (with H/T to el Rushbo):

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  31. I appreciate your acknowledging a mistake, though of course I don’t see it as a mistake but a truth you fail to see at this point.

    So while we are at this impasse, which I expect could clear up with some corroborating information at some point, let me address a slightly separate yet linked issue, one that wouldn’t exculpate the LAT but would give you something else to consider in opposition to your belief that the Lam firing was not politically motivated.

    On May 5, 2006, 6 days before the email in question, Porter Goss abruptly resigned from the CIA. It soon became clear that the Goss and the Cunningham scandals were linked – and the nexus of the two were defense contractor and Cunningham briber Brent Wilkes, and #3 at CIA Dusty Foggo, Wilkes’ childhood buddy. Foggo resigned on Monday, May 8, three days before the email. Soon it became apparent that Foggo and Wilkes were involved in a kickback scheme where Wilkes got CIA contracts in exchange for cash, hookers, etc. Eventually Wilkes and Foggo were indicted on February 13, 2007. The prosecutor was Carol Lam, and it was one of her last acts as a USA.

    Now, is it not plausible that in May of 2006, just as this business at CIA was coming to light, and the fact that it was connected to Duke Cunningham, and the Dukestir’s main briber Brent Wilkes, who was also a client of Bill Lowery, the lobbyist with an unusually close relationship to Jerry Lewis, and also that Wilkes was a top contributor to Lewis… is it not plausible that, upon hearing this, and knowing that Lam has already taken down Cunningham and that the Foggo/Wilkes case would be in her jurisdiction and that said case leads to Lewis as well… is it not plausible that “the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam” would refer to this whole mess that was breaking at the exact same time of the email in question?

    Now as I said, this does not totally solve the Lewis question, though I find it implausible that Carol Lam and Debra Yang Wong would not at least have some coordination on an investigation that had so very many common threads. I do, however, question your refusal to believe that the Lam firing had nothing to do with any of this. The August 23 Moschella letter to Feinstein pokes a serious hole in your alternate theory.

    dday (ddd5f9)

  32. Dday,

    Could you briefly explain why your blog posts refer to Alberto Gonzales as “Abu G”? Is it because he had you, your family, friends and co-workers thrown in jail for speaking out against the Bush Administration, or is this your clever way of sticking it to the man?

    DRJ (53e939)

  33. It’s funny: I made a mistake in the same post where I explicitly said that Yang was the one investigating Lewis.

    So it’s not like I didn’t know the facts.

    It’s just that the Democrat spin had been so hammered into me that I couldn’t see past it, even when I knew the facts were otherwise.

    And I’m a Republican. It must be extra tough for you to see past the spin, as a Democrat. Actually, reading your comments, I *know* that to be the case.

    Patterico (04465c)

  34. I think its impossible to know right now where the line of division was between the SDCA investigation of Cunningham,, an the CDCA investigation of Lewis.

    BUT, rest assured, that both these investigations were monitored VERY closely by career prosecutors at the Public Integrity Section of DOJ. A US Attorney does not have the authority to open a criminal investigation on a sitting member of Congress without getting AG/DAG authorization.

    Lam and Yang did not pursue their investigations without the knowledge of and assistance from DOJ. Same for the FBI. While the San Diego and Los Angeles Field Divisions are huge and certainly have the resources to conduct those investigations, they are not going to go foward without the permission of FBI HQ — probably from the Director himself.

    So, its highly inaccurate to think that DOJ was actively seeking to impede these US Attorneys in their work. Quite the opposite is true, and it wouldn’t/didn’t matter that Yang and Lam have both been replaced. The investigations continue.

    Cases like that involve too many people for them to be squashed by politics.

    Go ask Dan Rostenkowski how much it helped him to have Bill Clinton can all 93 US Attorneys in 1993.

    WLS (1b7f25)

  35. You mean the Dan Rostenkowski who was convicted in 1995 by a Clinton-appointed federal prosecutor and served 15 months in jail?

    Yeah, it helped him a bunch.

    Your argument appears to be that US Attorneys are just secretaries for the FBI and DoJ, who run all investigations from Washington, and therfore it doesn’t matter who the USAs are. Then you add that Clinton saved Rostenkowski, which is the opposite argument.

    dday (ddd5f9)

  36. dday,

    WLS, who is an AUSA, has responded to your point about the letter to Feinstein.

    As for the Foggo/Wilkes deal, maybe you’d have something if that was the story that had broken May 11 (instead of the L.A. based investigation of Lewis), and if Lam hadn’t already been on a working list of targeted USAs, and if her prosecution of immigration cases in San Diego hadn’t been wanting at the time she was placed on that list, and if her term didn’t end in November 2006 anyway, and if the May 11 e-mail from Sampson were not specifically replying to an inquiry from the day before.

    As it is, however, the facts don’t support your position on Lam. Argue Iglesias; there the timing supports you, as I’ve already conceded in another post. But Lam? Give me a break. It’s Democrat partisan nonsense. It’s a pathetically weak argument, and you look like a partisan fool for flogging it in the face of such clear facts.

    Patterico (04465c)

  37. Here is an e-amil exchange between Sampson and Iglesias from page 38 of Set 3.

    —– Original Message ——
    From: Iglesias, David C.
    To: Sampson, Kyl (Gonzalez’a Chief of Staff)
    Sent: Wed Jan 10, 2007
    Subject: Reference Request

    Kyle: Hope you are doing well in this new year. I wonder if you could ask the Judge (Gonzalez) if I can list him as a reference. As you know, I’ll be resigning in the next month or so and am looking for a job. Please let me know if he consents. Thanks.


    From: Sampson, Kyle
    Sent: Wed Jan 10 2007
    To: Iglesias, David
    Subject: Re: Reference Request

    David, I am well, thank you. You can list the AG as a reference — not a problem. Good luck!

    Kyle Sampson


    Iglesias here certainly doesn’t sound like someone who has been improperly fired because of political pressure.

    Michael Smith (b8378c)

  38. The Rostenkowski investigation began under a Bush 41 appointed District of Columbia US Attorney Jay Stephens. Clinton appointed Eric Holder was the US Attorney in the District of Columbia when Rostenkowski pled guilty. At the time Clinton canned all remaining Bush 41 appointees, there was widespread speculation that one reason for doing so in the manner they did was to try and short-circuit the Rostenkowski investigation.

    Here’s an old WaPo story on the plea offer, dated May 1994. It clearly states that the investigation was ongoing for 2 years — taking it back to 1992 which would have been months before the 1992 election.

    WLS (1b7f25)

  39. Everyone is still missing a critical point about Lam, and I’ve posted a much longer version of this in another thread on this subject.

    Lam was appointed US Attorney in San Diego by happenstance. She’s a registered Independent. She was a compromise choice between the WH and Senator Boxer that happened during the period between Jeffords defecting to the Dems and the GOP retaking the Senate in 2002. Boxer and Feinstein demanded unprecedented input on the nominations of US Attorneys and District Judges because of the outcome of the 2000 election, and because of the shift in Congress.

    Lam was seen as non-political, was a former AUSA who enjoyed the support of the federal law enforcement community (FBI and DEA), and the SDCA judiciary. She had been an AUSA in the SDCA for 14 years, and had been Chief of the Major Frauds section, so she knew the office and the personnel.

    But, in 2000 she was appointed by California DEMOCRAT Governor Gray Davis to be a Superior Court Judge in San Diego.

    So, who thinks Carol Lam was the pick of the WH for the SDCA US Attorney’s job?

    Her grasp on the position was always tenuous. Her de-emphasizing border prosecutions — both immigration and drug smuggling — when the SDCA gets a huge budget to prosecute those cases, got her behind the 8-Ball, and led to her firing.

    WLS (1b7f25)

  40. dday — if you think an US Attorney in San Diego and the FBI Field Division in San Diego can open an investigation that names as its target a sitting member of Congress, and not get those actions authorized in advance by DOJ and FBI HQ, then your are as ignorant on this topic as your posts seem to suggest.

    WLS (1b7f25)

  41. Everyone is still missing a critical point about Lam….She was a compromise choice between the WH and Senator Boxer

    Good point WLS and it’s one I think everyone continually overlooks. I think it’s telling that 3 of the 4 USA’s for California that were worked out in the WH – Boxer/Feinstein compromise are now gone. Was this a factor in any of the other USA firings? I know Fitzgerald was a bit of a compromise candidate in Illinois as well – I wonder where his redacted name turns up in Sampson’s email lists?

    Bob Loblaw (a9fb99)

  42. Maybe you answered this, WLS, but I missed it. How common is it for USAs to be dismissed midterm by the Administration that appointed them? The Democratic Spin is that it’s really quite extraordinary, something that would require an extraordinary explanation. And like a lot of what you call spin, it is 100 percent true.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (d69c01)

  43. Abuse of power is the central tenet to this administration.

    jill (8e80b5)

  44. because I have been busy combatting the Democrat spin

    Either use Democrats spin, Democratic spin, Democratic party spin. But using just Democrat makes you look like a shill.

    Rob (6c466c)

  45. […] Kyle Sampson and Mike McNulty, on the other hand, may have something to worry about (see also here for why the Bush Administration is not entirely off the hook regarding USA Iglesias). I would hope that, in the very least, what started as congressional kabuki would result in delivering just desserts to those who transgressed the trust placed in them. If either of them sought to fire U.S Attorney’s for such a calculated reason as retribution for failing to indict political opponents, then they deserve to be punished. […]

    A Second Hand Conjecture » Goodling Testimony - Much Ado About Nothing? (f55714)

  46. Child custody issues in California family law can result by way of the initiation of dissolution of marriage proceedings (divorce), legal separation, annulment, or paternity proceedings. Child custody issues can arise even if the parties are not legally separated, but living apart. There are several classifications of child custody in the state of California such as; Sole legal and physical custody, primary physical and legal custody, joint physical and legal custody, and no right to custody. …

    Child Custody (0826b1)

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