Democrats are bending the time-space continuum again. They did it with Carol Lam, and now they are doing it with Steven Biskupic.
Democrats claimed that Carol Lam was targeted for something that she did months after she was initially targeted. Specifically, they claimed that the Administration targeted Carol Lam in January 2005 for an investigation she began months later, relating to a scandal that broke in April 2005.
The claim as to Biskupic is equally illogical, but in reverse — like the Carol Lam argument viewed in the mirror. Democrats claim that Steven Biskupic was given a reprieve from firing for something that he did months before he was ever targeted for firing. Specifically, they claim that the Administration added him to a list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired in October 2006, but later removed him in gratitude for his baseless prosecution of a Democrat. But that prosecution was concluded months before Democrats claim his name was added to the list of people to be fired. (The prosecution commenced in January 2006 and concluded in June 2006; Joshua Micah Marshall has argued that his name was added to the list in October 2006.)
It would be like someone claiming that the boss didn’t fire you because you got him Lakers tickets — except that he first thought about firing you only after he went to the game. It makes no sense.
If your head is spinning from the illogical nature of all this, you must not be a Democrat.
But if you are rational, you can see that this incident proves the opposite of what Democrats are claiming. According to Joshua Micah Marshall, Biskupic was probably added to the list after he got a conviction in a thin case against a Democrat. If that is true, then Biskupic’s success in prosecuting tough cases against Democrats didn’t save him from being considered for firing.
As I detail below, the argument that Biskupic prosecuted a Democrat for political reasons is belied, not just by the timeline, but also by statements from numerous local Democrats, who support Biskupic and say that he is a career prosecutor who prosecutes both Republicans and Democrats alike.
Democrats, it’s time to give up this angle. This dog won’t hunt.
The details are in the extended entry.
One thing that bothers me about the U.S. Attorney scandal is this: if you are out to see every prosecution and failure to prosecute as politically motivated — and if you are willing to overlook obvious major flaws in your theory, such as that the timing is implausible — you can find suspicious activities everywhere!
For example: this entire controversy began with a silly fraudulent claim: that former USA Carol Lam was targeted because of her investigation into Republican lawmaker Randy “Duke” Cunningham, together with various offshoots of the investigation. There is a big fat gaping hole in the logic: Lam was on a list of prosecutors to be fired long before anyone knew that Randy Cunningham had done anything illegal. Yet leftists have uniformly brushed aside that major flaw in the theory as though it were completely irrelevant.
Here’s an analogy: the defendant in a criminal case is accused of receiving money from Mr. Smith to kill Mr. Smith’s wife. The prosecution introduces evidence that Mr. Smith gave the defendant $50,000 — without noting that Mr. Smith gave the defendant the money two years before Mr. Smith even met his wife. It could be a nice piece of evidence — if the timing didn’t render it completely ludicrous.
And so it is with the Democrats’s nutty theory involving U.S. Attorney Steven Biskupic.
Biskupic is the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Lefties got excited when a conviction in a political corruption case that Biskupic had brought against Wisconsin Democrat Georgia Thompson was reversed by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals for insufficient evidence. Thompson was hardly a high-level Democrat; rather, she was a bureaucrat in the Wisconsin Department of Administration. She participated in the selection process for numerous travel contracts, and the prosecution related to her alleged illegal use of “political considerations” in the selection process.
The Seventh Circuit’s ruling in her favor was remarkable for its swiftness:
The three-judge panel in Chicago acted with unusual speed, ruling after oral arguments by Thompson’s attorney and the U.S. attorney’s office.
During 26 minutes of oral arguments, all three judges assailed the government’s case, with Judge Diane Wood saying at one point that “the evidence is beyond thin.”
In an extraordinary action, the judges entered an order the same day, ordering Thompson to be released. The opinion supporting the order has yet to be issued. Although the panel’s reasoning has not been documented, Democrats have understandably seized upon the judges’ unusual order as strong evidence that the case against Thompson was exceptionally weak.
When news of the Seventh Circuit’s decision first came down, TPMmuckraker linked an article on the weakness of the evidence against Thompson, and said:
Dozens of readers have written in, asking if this is what a “loyal Bushie” looks like. It’s hard to see it otherwise.
At the time of that post, the assumption was that, because Biskupic was simply a “loyal Bushie,” he had never been considered for termination. Why would he be? He prosecuted a Democrat on virtually no evidence!
But in an episode of “Talking Points Memo TV,” Joshua Micah Marshall, the lefty guru of this scandal, came up with a darker theory. He made the case that Biskupic had actually been added to the list — but was very possibly saved from having been fired due to his baseless prosecution of Georgia Thompson.
There is a fundamental problem with Marshall’s analysis. He makes the case that Biskupic’s name was added to the list of attorneys to be fired on or after October 17, 2006. But if Biskupic was placed on a list on or after October 17, that is well after the Georgia Thompson case was long over. Here’s the timeline:
- January 24, 2006: Thompson is indicted
- June 2006: Thompson is convicted
- On or after October 17, 2006: Biskupic’s name added to list of potential U.S. Attorneys to be fired, according to Marshall’s analysis.
Hmmm. So if this scandal is all about rewarding U.S. Attorneys who toe the line on political prosecutions, why would the Bush Administration have added Biskupic’s name to the list after he successfully prosecuted a Democrat in a tough case?
To any rational person with no political axe to grind, the message is clear: the Biskupic/Thompson saga is a piece of evidence against the contention that U.S. Attorneys were targeted because they didn’t please the Administration on political prosecutions.
Now of course, this analysis depends upon Josh Marshall’s analysis of when Biskupic was added to the list. It might not be correct. In recent days, it has emerged that Biskupic was indeed placed on a list for termination. Initial reports cited only a leak from an anonymous congressional staffer — likely a staffer for one of the Senate Judiciary Democrats. The report was confirmed on April 14, when Biskupic announced that he had indeed been on a list of prosecutors to be fired. Biskupic issued a press release in which he defended his record, saying that he had prosecuted Republicans and Democrats, and had consulted with local Democrats on the proscution of Thompson. Neither Biskupic nor other news articles have specified the date that Biskupic was added to the list.
We’ll have to see in coming days whether Marshall was right about the timing. But if he is, then the Democrats’ argument makes no sense at all.
I should add that, even if the timing is not as Marshall contends, a rational view of the situation still compels the conclusion that Biskupic’s prosecution was not political. If it were obviously so, you would think that local Democrats would be in an uproar. Instead, they support him. According to this report:
Biskupic’s defenders, who include several Democratic prosecutors, said he’s a respected, career prosecutor who isn’t guided by a partisan agenda. Mordecai Lee, a professor of governmental affairs at UW- Milwaukee, noted Biskupic’s handling of the voter fraud cases drew criticism from both Republicans and Democrats.
“That’s about as clean a bill of health as one gets,” said Lee, a former Democratic state senator.
Several other local Democrats have supported Biskupic.
In his statement Saturday, Biskupic reiterated that his investigation of Thompson was carried out with the help of then-state Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager and Blanchard, both Democrats. . . . Blanchard confirmed Saturday he had been consulted on the charging decision. Blanchard, who with Lautenschlager has defended Biskupic, said the decision to charge was Biskupic’s.
The article also notes that Biskupic brought more public corruption cases against Republicans than against Democrats:
Michelle Jacobs, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Milwaukee, said Biskupic had brought at least 12 cases involving individuals who donated money to Republican candidates or who were aligned with the Republican Party. That compares to at least eight cases involving Democrats, not including the voter fraud cases, she said.
So if Biskupic’s name had been put on the list and then taken off by a Democrat Administration, Republicans would be able to say: well, this guy prosecuted more Republicans than Democrats, and Democrats complained about his inability to follow up on voter fraud, so the Democrat Administration decided he was too partisan towards Democrats.
No matter what the facts are, the Democrats will find some way to spin it to make it sound political.
But in this case, based upon the evidence available so far, the evidence just isn’t there. It’s nonsense. Utter nonsense.