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March 14, 2007

Comments

Thank you for this post. I've been trying in between work, all day to get the numbers on the US Attys who had left in the middle of a 2-term president. This should serve to answer those misdirected ones who keep contending, "Well, Clinton did it." The answer to that is a big fat No.

hilzoy, this is fantastic writing.

This scandal has no ceiling.

One of the bloggers at Making Light kept saying, back when I was reading it regularly "This is not the behavior of a group that thinks they're ever going to be out of power" and for the first time, I'm confident she's not exaggerating.

This is the behavior of a group in power who believe they can get away with anything.

but since he seems to be an all-around star performer in the idiocy world series,

hee.

Also, hilzoy, your going to ruin the internets citing things like congressional research studies and actual quotes from the politicans involved -- I want my unsupported allegations, political hackery and gratuitous insults back!

I want my unsupported allegations, political hackery and gratuitous insults back!

the Prosecutors thread is proving rich in all three! joy!

They don't have to think they'll never be out of power, just that there are no consequences. And there aren't, really. Look at the facts: in 6 years of trampling on the Constitution and abusing power, we've managed to get convictions against, what, Libby and Ney? The opposition party is so terrified of looking vengeful that nobody is held accountable for anything. Even if we get a real Democratic majority in 2008, it will be so long afterwards that the Dems won't bother to prosecute. So this crew know they can do whatever they want.

They don't have to think they'll never be out of power, just that there are no consequences.

This is why Nixon should have spent a few years in the pokey.

what trilobite said.
and what Ugh said.

Thanks, hilzoy. Great post.

Great post, hilzoy: I just think it’s unfortunate that we can’t get such a clear and simple articulation of the issues from anyone who might actually be in a position to DO something about these abuses – Congressmen and Senators, say. By happy chance, the Bush Administration’s inbred arrogance, hackery and corruption have finally given the Opposition an opportunity to expose these evils: criminal (or near-criminal: I have no idea what the parameters for illegality on interference with investigations are) misconduct that can’t just be waved away with highhanded blather about “executive privilege” or “national security” or whatever – one just has to wonder, though what they will do.

Great post, hilzoy -- we all know this administration has been out of control for a while -- the focus ought now be on the prosecutors who stayed on -- what were they willing to do to hold on to their jobs? This is just such an egregious breach of public trust, it just boggles the mind.

Well, this sounds rather damning:*

Bud Cummins never had any intention of making a fuss. A folksy Arkansas lawyer, Cummins had been abruptly fired last year as U.S. attorney in Little Rock to create a slot for a former top aide to Karl Rove. But Cummins is a loyal Republican; he knows how the game is played in Washington, so he kept quiet. Then last month, as the press picked up on the story of Cummins and seven other fired U.S. attorneys, he was quoted in a newspaper story defending his colleagues. Cummins got a phone call from the Justice Department that he found vaguely menacing.

It came from Michael Elston, a top Justice official. Cummins says Elston expressed concern that he and the dismissed attorneys were talking to reporters about what had happened to them. Elston, Cummins says, suggested this might not be a good idea; Justice officials might feel compelled to "somehow pull their gloves off" and retaliate against the prosecutors by publicly trashing them. "I was tempted to challenge him," Cummins e-mailed colleagues later that day, "and say something movie-like such as 'are you threatening ME???' " (Elston acknowledges he told Cummins, "it's really a shame that all this has to come out in the newspaper," but says "I didn't intend to threaten him.")

Sure you didn't.

*apologies if this has been posted before.

For a counterargument I recommend Patterico, specifically regarding the emails. He is a LA County prosecutor so I assume he has some knowledge and first-hand experience on the subject. Yes he tilts right but that doesn’t disqualify his arguments any more than tilting left disqualifies anyone’s argument here.

Personally I don’t have a strong opinion at this point, just trying to get a handle on both sides amid all the ‘sound and fury’.

AG: "But I have 110,000 working in the department. Obviously, there are going to be decisions made that I'm not aware of all the time."
Obviously his chief of staff is on the same footing as a file clerk in Walla-Walla.

OCSteve, I read the article you linked to, and I agree that at times we ahve to avoid jumping in too easily. However, it should be noted that at least 4 of the attorneys got very high positive artings just a year ago. Also that one of the original complaints against Iglesias was that he was spendign to much time on illegal immigrants.

In regards to the AZ USA who wasn't prsecuting marijuana cases under 500 punds, sometimes a call has to be made on priorities when one has limited resources.

And it is different to be supposed to follow the administrations policies and having to do things that are unethical or irrelevant.

IMO the administration did nothing illegal. However the fact that something is legal has nothing to do with if it is right or wrong. And the most important thing is what hilzoy mentioned yesterday. How many USA's buckled under the pressure and either started investigations or issued indictments that were unnecessary just so that it would make Democrats or disloyal Republicans look bad. This we may never know.

Sorry for the typos. I really need to preview more often.

Thanks for this post, hilzoy. Hope it does some good, but "none so blind..."

Ugh: That's one of my favorite moments in the Senate hearing -- Schumer reads the email Crimmins sent to the other fired USAs.

Crimmins is a hugely appealing guy. Prosecutors aren't noted for warmth, but he has an obvious sense of humor and is very clear-eyed about politics.

OCSteve: It's the last time I'll say it, because I've already become tiresome on the subject, but -- go watch the hearing to help you get a handle on the issue. (Search videos for 'Carol Lam' at C-SPAN.)

Compare and contrast:

"at most five, US Attorneys were removed from office in the middle of their terms between 1981 and the present firings. George W. Bush managed to fire more attorneys on one day than had been fired in mid-term during the previous 25 years."

with today's Wall Street Journal:

[Janet Reno] "simultaneously fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys in March 1993. Ms. Reno--or Mr. Hubbell--gave them 10 days to move out of their offices... the dismissals were unprecedented: Previous Presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, had both retained holdovers from the previous Administration and only replaced them gradually as their tenures expired."

OCS, all employment disputes are easily resolved if you believe whatever explanation the employer gives, pretextual or no. And the fact that someone at an employer has papered the file, while not irrelevant, doesn't end the inquiry. There's a reason that the AG and his chief of staff are in hot water, and it's not that the LA Times is selectively editing e-mails.

At bottom, the 'right lean' of Patterico leads him down a wrong path: USAs should never be judged on 'loyalty' to a President or an AG. They should be judged on the skill at which they manage the office. Obviously, insubordination can and should be dealt with. "Loyalty" to individuals, though, has (or should have) no place in the US government. I do not mean to imply that I think this Admin is the first to impose or act on such factors, only that where it's made manifest, as in the Sampson emails, it should be rejected.

When Patterico gets an indictment, it's not 'Mayor X v. Defendant' or 'County Supervisors A, B, and C v. Defendant.' It's 'People v. Defendant.' I've no doubt that in his real life he knows and lives by the difference.

@Bruce Rheinstein: Do you really not understand what 'mid-term' means?

Though I do appreciate finally getting some facts on the 1993 firings to make way for new appointees; that 10-day bit is unusually abrupt.

The WSJ editorial page has been (mostly) populated by fantasists since 1/1993.

Re the strawman put up by the WSJ wrt the 1993 Clinton firings. This is apples and oranges.

1993--Clinton replaced all but one USAtty (that being *Michael Chertoff*)

2001--Bush 43 replaced all US Attorneys

1997--Clinton's second term. He fired no US Attys.

2007--Bush 43's second term--even worse two years into it. He fired 7 US Attys (not counting the ones taken out in 2006)

GONZALES: I accept responsibility...
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

When a President replaces US Attorneys in mid-term, however, he can sack them not just for not being fully aligned with him ideologically, but for their actions on some specific case.

Or as one of my professors used to say about at-will employees - you can fire them for any reason, except a bad one.

Had the AG's office just kept mum we probably would have never heards about any of the memos and such.

But no, BushCo had to make stuff up and stab the USA's (performance reasons) in the back while pushing them out the door.

john miller: However the fact that something is legal has nothing to do with if it is right or wrong. And the most important thing is what hilzoy mentioned yesterday. How many USA's buckled under the pressure and either started investigations or issued indictments that were unnecessary just so that it would make Democrats or disloyal Republicans look bad.

I agree with that. I think that the “buckled” aspect is the most important thing in all this. I’m all for an investigation to figure that out. I think that is getting lost in all the rest though.


Nell:go watch the hearing to help you get a handle on the issue.

I’ll try to do that. I haven’t had time to watch 3 hours of hearings yet though I did skip around it a little. If anyone has any time hacks for particularly interesting segments…


CharlieCarp: At bottom, the 'right lean' of Patterico leads him down a wrong path

Not to speak for him (he has comments if you are so inclined) but I have found him to be a very harsh critic of the administration when he believes they warrant it.

I should reword to say go read this for an example of how it is being selectively spun in the media. The LAT is his personal boogieman and most of his effort here is demonstrating how they pick and choose and selectively omit portions of the emails to paint it all in the worst possible light. It is not limited to the LAT though, other papers are doing something similar and blogs are running with those quotes. For instance, Hilzoy quoted:

In an e-mail dated May 11, 2006, Sampson urged the White House counsel's office to call him regarding "the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam," who then the U.S. attorney for southern California.

But if you read the entire email which Patterico links, the full sentence is this:

The real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have somebody ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires.

She served her full term and then some. She was not summarily fired. They decided they would replace her when her term expired – 6 months later.

Patterico links to all the original emails. IMO, anyone really digging into this should be working with the originals and not the bits and pieces that the media and other blogs decide to use.

And of course everyone’s politics leads them on this.

Hey, cool. I can comment now.

Hilzoy, one odd thing I see about this study is:

At least 54 U.S. attorneys appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate left office before completion of a four-year term...

If Bush swept out all the old USAs, aren't the four-year terms of the new USAs all completed? If so, this study tells us almost nothing.

I could be wrong. Am, probably. But I'm not seeing it.

And of course everyone’s politics leads them on this.

That kind of reasoned, tempered rhetoric... well, them's fightin' words! Wet salmon at dawn, sirrah!

Sockeye salmon, I'd guess.

Slarti: offhand, I would have thought that since Bush appointed mostly new prosecutors at the beginning of his first term, a 4 year term would have expired in early 2005, and a new 4 year term would have started.

I hate salmon...

Rockfish maybe?

Hey, cool. I can comment now.

TypePad is nothing if not forgiving.

Slarti: offhand, I would have thought that since Bush appointed mostly new prosecutors at the beginning of his first term, a 4 year term would have expired in early 2005, and a new 4 year term would have started.

They're not re-appointed, they just holdover (i.e., no re-confirmation by the senate) - see pages 2 and 3 of the study.

Meh, make that: see text accompanying footnote 5.

"I would have thought that since Bush appointed mostly new prosecutors at the beginning of his first term, a 4 year term would have expired in early 2005, and a new 4 year term would have started."

New full terms don't start again automatically.

I thought this was the most hilarious statement made in this analysis:

And that's a lot more serious, since it gives Presidents the power to direct the power of law enforcement at their political opponents.

Yeah, like the power to select your political cronies, people who you can vet thoroughly for alignment to their views and loyalty, to put into these offices doesn't?

If you want to see how fast the Dems backpedal on this, challenge them to immediately make US attorneys partisan-proof the same way that we do judges -- by life terms -- or members of the Board of Governors for the Federal Reserve, i.e. far longer terms and with no removal allowed except for "cause".

Of course, Hillary, Schumer, and the rest of the Dems feigning outrage over this will never buy into that, because it would block their OWN power to summarily fire US attorneys who don't believe Democrats are automatically innocent.

On rereading the study, it seems as though they used the 4 year thingo to identify USAttorneys who clearly left for some reason other than the expiration of their term or a change in administration. Is there any reason to think that those USAs who were removed after less than four years would be different from those who were removed after more than four years, but not b/c of a change in administration or their term expiring?

Patterico's apologia is truly pathetic. When the Arkansas senators raised issues regarding the appointment of Tim Griffin, Karl Rove's aide who was given the job of the fired US Attorney from Arkansas, demanding to know how long this "interim" appointment would last before a nominee would be submitted to the Senate, here's what Gonzales' chief of staff wrote to the White House:

I think we should gum this to death: ask the Senators to give Tim a chance, meet with him, give him some time in office to see how he performs, etc. If they ultimately say, "no never" (and the longer we can forestall that, the better), then we can tell them we'll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, evaluate the recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All of this should be done in "good faith," of course.

I showed this email to a conservative lawyer in my office who literally did a spit-take at the last line. Patterico's only comment on this e-mail? "The Administration wanted to give out a U.S. Attorney position as a political plum?! I am shocked. SHOCKED! I tells ya."

Patterico's snark ignores two other critical points:

1. US Attorney positions are given to political allies all the time, sure. But you don't fire a competent US Attorney in the middle of his term to make room for a crony. As hilzoy's post discusses, that's simply unprecedented.

2. The Department of Justice lied to Congress about the appointment, claiming "the Department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin." This coming two months after Gonzales' chief of staff had written "getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc."

Normally I count on smart guys like Patterico to supply pushback and identify the respects in which a story has been overblown. In this case, unfortunately, he's guilty of total hackery.

If you want to see how fast the Dems backpedal on this, challenge them to immediately make US attorneys partisan-proof... Of course, Hillary, Schumer, and the rest of the Dems feigning outrage over this will never buy into that, because it would block their OWN power to summarily fire US attorneys

Interestingly enough, Schumer is the sponsor of legislation requiring all US Attorneys to be confirmed by the Senate, and if they are not confirmed within 120 days, a replacement is appointed by the District Court. I know "they're all teh same" is the default assumption for lots of folks around here, but it ain't necessarily so.

"If you want to see how fast the Dems backpedal on this, challenge them to immediately make US attorneys partisan-proof... Of course, Hillary, Schumer, and the rest of the Dems feigning outrage over this will never buy into that, because it would block their OWN power to summarily fire US attorneys."

Erm, judges are part of the judiciary and prosecutors are part of the executive. Two very different branches of government we're talking about here. While I am sure that Bush, Rove et al would love to be appointed for life, I would hope that we would honor our Constitution as written.

OC Steve:

Thanks for the link to Patterico, which I also read, and others have already taken him to task.

I want to comment on this argument about the "selective" quoting of emails by the LA Times. That would be a problem if the omitted material changed the meaning of the partial quote. But it does not.

The language that the LA Times highlighted demonstrated a clear political motive behind the replacement of Lam and others. The other material that was removed from the quote suggests that there were other possible reasons for action, but that does not undo the meaning of the political motives for the firings.

Patterico completely ignores this in favor of his alleged "gotcha" moment. It doesn't work.

In any event, what has really made this scandal go is the outright lying as to why these attorneys were canned. Some of the firings were questionable (Lam in particular). But why lie about the reason for the replacement in Arkansas, which was favoring a Rove friend?

Excellent post. I'll just add that the other point Josh Marshall is making in all this is that it isn't just about the ones who were fired--we also need to take a long hard look at the ones who, presumably, did what they were told (e.g., the NJ US Atty who announced an investigation of Menendez before the election...an investigation that eventually went nowhere).

The big story here is not just political pressure on a few US Attys; the story is that Bush was using the entire justice department as an arm of the RNC.

Well it’s not my job to defend Patterico – he is quite capable himself. I’m not qualified to argue legal matters but I thought it worth linking to someone who is for anyone interested in another perspective.

dmbeaster: That would be a problem if the omitted material changed the meaning of the partial quote. But it does not.

I’ll go back and reread but some of them struck me as changing it quite a bit.

The one I highlighted here from the linked McClatchy article (“the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam”) certainly changes the meaning IMO when you leave off the rest that indicates he was talking about nominating someone else in 6 months when her term runs out.

Firing Lam is just as indefensible as firing Patrick Fitzgerald in the middle of the Libby case would have been. It really wouldn't have made any difference if they had said "oh, but we had concerns with Fitzgerald from back before the case even started!" People would have found it outrageous and Lam's situation is really no less outrageous.

Is there any reason to think that those USAs who were removed after less than four years would be different from those who were removed after more than four years, but not b/c of a change in administration or their term expiring?
I think the problem is that for those who have served for more than four years it's hard to know whether they're being removed because their term has expired or for other reasons.

So, at least five of the seven were fired for questionable reasons: four for pursuing Republican corruption, and one for not concocting a case of voter fraud where there was no evidence of voter fraud.

Yet we are supposed to believe that they also had unsatisfactory work evaluations (even though, IIRC, the only one specified as 'unsatisfactory' was Lam - for not persuing enough immigration cases).

While we're wondering if the USAs who weren't fired were more obedient in their investigation targets, perhaps we should also wonder about their evaluations.

I'd be interested in the criteria for evaluation, as well. I know what corporate yearly reviews are like: you work with your manager(s) to set specific goals, and then review how well you did against those goals. Good managers know that unexpected circumstances mean the goals have to be re-evaluated. Like, say, a pregnancy... or a corruption probe that suddenly involves far more people than were originally suspected, and which might become a higher priority than running after illegal immigrants.

Lam had a pretty crisp response in the Senate hearing to questions about her immigration cases. She seems to have made a specialty of crackdowns on corrupt Border Patrol members, who were responsible for hundreds or thousands of illegal entries, as a better use of resources than going after immigrants themselves, an inherently onesy-twosy approach (okay, sometimes fivesy-sixsy).

She also pointed out the numbers in her district compared with the other 92. Didn't sound to me as if she'd put the issue aside, just that she wasn't neglecting other priorities in order to devote the entire resources of the office to it (which, given how much bigger the scale of the problem is in the southwestern district, would be possible to do).

Life-appointments making somebody partisan-proof? Slightly more bribe-resistant maybe (though I'd consider even that as doubtful).

Hilzoy, I would think you would tread lightly when making comparisons between Bush and Clinton, or for that matter between Clinton and almost anybody. You might say it's the Godzilla of Pandora's boxes. Do you really wish to go in that direction?

I still haven't seen any comparable situation to the firing of all attorneys at the beginning of Clintons first term despite assertions that turnover is typical. Yes it is, mass firings however are not typical.

The issue and the extent to which it is inflated revolve around corruption and the politicalization of Justice. Assuming this really matters do you think comparisons between the current DOJ and that of Janet Reno's DOJ are the wisest course for you to follow?

Granted that, for example, it is untoward to ask a Federal attorney to investigate the fact that dead people voted in a extremely close election [ an old Democratic tradition] yet I'm not sure it measures up as the hair curling scandal it's made out to be. Again keeping your comparison of Clinton and Bush in mind.

Maybe a little balance is in order, some restraint, some perspective. And on the timing, the heart stopping shock that a President would fire eight attorneys in the middle of his second term, the middle of his second term, can you imagine? Well I don't think you would have been happier if he had done it at any time. Or am I wrong?

And on the timing, the heart stopping shock that a President would fire eight attorneys in the middle of his second term, the middle of his second term, can you imagine? Well I don't think you would have been happier if he had done it at any time. Or am I wrong?

Yes. This has been yet another edition of Simple Answers to Simple Questions. cleek, where do I get some 'pie'?

Mattt,

"cleek, where do I get some 'pie'?"

A good place in my experience is here.

An even simpler answer to an even simpler question.

cleek, where do I get some 'pie'?

The Pie Place

Mocha walnut pie is good.

I'm sorry, pi day was yesterday. No more pie for you!

i don't believe in irrational numbers. every day in March is pi day, for me.

Oh, Mississippi Mud Pie!

Thanks, cleek.
;)

i don't believe in irrational numbers. every day in March is pi day, for me.

God made the integers, all the rest is the work of pie?

And btw, I really miss Fafnir's Friday Pie-blogging.

I really miss Fafnir's Friday Pie-blogging.

and i miss all the rest of it.

uncountably many times, i've clicked over there, only to read that they, sadly, still hate us with our freedom.

Giblets still loves you cleek with all his Gibletsian glory.

mattbastard, dantheman, cleek, ugh,anarch,

Thanks for the samples of your Phd thesis, As your mentor, Howard Dean would put it, yaarrrgh! Someday may you match his eloquence but in the meantime you have studied him well.

Thank you, Hilzoy.

And unrelated to Hilzoy, why is comparing someone to the DNC chair supposed to be a bad thing?

apparently pie is still in order, or perhaps we can expand to pastries, danish anyone?

i think i'm supposed to be insulted, but i just can't figure out how johnt's words are supposed to get me there.

anyhoo... it's pieday! (sorta)

clearly you're not smart enough cleek, you thinking skills having been eroded by too much... PIE!

I'm with cleek on not knowing if I am supposed to be insulted on not.

On the other hand, possibly the most insane take on this whole matter, from the op-ed pages of today's Inquirer.

My favorite paragraph: "Iglesias exposed wrongdoing by all three, including himself. All three flouted the rules. Iglesias knew that contact from a legislator over a possible or pending civil or criminal matter was verboten. Amazingly, he testified that Domenici and Wilson each had asked about matters reportedly under seal, yet Iglesias never reported the contacts to his superior in the Department of Justice. That's politics, not prosecution."

In other words, the US Attorneys should be charged with ethics violations for not turning in elected politicians for attempting to improperly influence them.

DTM, as I pointed out on another thread, the main theme is and has been for the past several years, distract, Distract, DISTRACT.

Through enough other stuff out there and the real things that matter get lost.

"In an e-mail dated May 11, 2006, Sampson urged the White House counsel's office to call him regarding "the real problem we have right now with Carol Lam," who then the U.S. attorney for southern California. Earlier that morning, the Los Angeles Times reported that Lam's corruption investigation of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Calif., had expanded to include another California Republican, Rep Jerry Lewis.

Whatever you say about Patterico on other issues, on this particular case, he has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the above news story is completely misleading. It deliberately leaves the impression that 1) Lam prosecuted Republicans Cunningham and Lewis, and 2) at that point, political operatives talked about firing her.

This is a lie. Lam was targeted for replacement in March 2005, three months before the Cunningham scandal was even public knowledge, and a year before the prosecution of Republican Jerry Lewis. You don't have to take Patterico's word for it: Read the emails yourself at pages 5-6 here.

So what's the theory here: Time travel? How did the Bush administration target Lam for replacement in March 2005 based on prosecutions that she would bring a year later?

Also, you can see an email (dated May 31, 2006) on page 23 of the PDF file. It explains the problem with Lam:
Has ODAG ever called Carol Lam and woodshedded her re immigration enforcement? Has anyone?

I don't know if anyone here will acknowledge the facts about the Lam dismissal. Once people's minds are made up, they seem to be impervious to rational discussion about what the evidence really shows.

This is a lie. Lam was targeted for replacement in March 2005, three months before the Cunningham scandal was even public knowledge, and a year before the prosecution of Republican Jerry Lewis

you can be "targeted" for something, and still have no action taken against you, because, as you know, targeting only means that you are now a target. it's not the laser dot on your forehead that kills you, after all, it's the bullet that shows up after someone decides to take the shot.

it's entirely possible that they initially decided against pulling the trigger on Lam, but changed their minds after the Cunningham case.

Once people's minds are made up, they seem to be impervious to rational discussion about what the evidence really shows.

ya don't say

it's entirely possible that they initially decided against pulling the trigger on Lam, but changed their minds after the Cunningham case.

Pathetic. This is what you're reduced to? Sheer speculation that even after putting Lam on the list in March 2005, DOJ changed its mind and then changed its mind again after the Cunningham case? You're just making this up.

Plus, Lam wasn't even "fired." As the 2005 emails (linked above) point out, her 4-year term was due to expire on Nov. 18, 2006. No US Attorney has any right whatsoever -- morally or statutorily or otherwise -- to an extra 4-year term. So the fact that DOJ waited until now to replace Lam is merely proof that they were NOT even firing her in any sense.

This is what you're reduced to? Sheer speculation...

are you asserting that there are absolutely no unanswered questions here? yes or no.

You're just making this up.

actually, i'm expanding on a point that Patterico himself brushes up against:

    I understand that the March 2005 list was a working list, and that the official decision was made later. It is still critical information that the initial decision to target Lam far predated the Cunningham investigation. This is strong evidence that the Cunningham investigation was not the reason Lam was targeted.

again, there is a difference between targeting and execution.

No US Attorney has any right whatsoever -- morally or statutorily or otherwise -- to an extra 4-year term.

and yet, (magically?) most of them stayed on. something about Lam and the rest who were asked to go (or not asked back, however you want to phrase it) was different. that's what an investigation will determine.

1) There is zero actual evidence that the non-renewal of Lam had anything to do with the prosecution of Jerry Lewis, which wasn't even being handled by Lam in the first place. Instead, that prosection was announced by ANOTHER US Attorney's office in Los Angeles. That US Attorney provided this quote to the LA Times:

The Lewis probe was an extension of the case Lam started in San Diego. But it was being handled by the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles because Lewis' Redlands headquarters falls under its purview.

Debra Wong Yang, then the U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, said Wednesday that she was befuddled that anyone in Washington would be upset with Lam over a case being pursued in Los Angeles. "I'm not sure I understand the link," she said.

I know you guys think Bush is incompetent, but believe me, the DOJ attorneys here are smart enough to know that removing Lam from the San Diego office would be a bizarre and completely ineffective way of interfering with a prosecution being headed up by someone else in the Los Angeles office.

2) All you have is conspiratorial hand-waving about the timing of an email in which a DOJ official mentioned a "problem" with Carol Lam (i.e., that email came out on the same day as a LA Times story noting that she was going to prosecute Jerry Lewis). Again, however, this makes no sense, given that Lam wasn't the one who announced the Jerry Lewis prosecution.

3) The timing doesn't make sense anyway, because Lam's non-renewal was recommended both in March 2005 and again in January 2006, long before anything had been announced as to Jerry Lewis;

4) The only documentary evidence about the reason for non-renewal refers to immigration: The guy who was recommending replacement asked whether Lam had ever been "woodshedded" for her failure to prosecute illegal immigration cases.


In short, the Lam case is being way oversold. I'm hopeful that there are enough non-hacks here to admit this.

No US Attorney has any right whatsoever -- morally or statutorily or otherwise -- to an extra 4-year term.

You mean other than 28 U.S.C. Sec. 541(b) which says "a United States attorney shall continue to perform the duties of his office until his successor is appointed and qualifies"?

I take that last comment back insomuch as it implies a statutory right to an "extra 4-year term" (which, of course, no one here has argued so I'm not sure why John Doe is bringing it up), as opposed to a right to continue to serve until a replacement is confirmed.

you know what, John Doe, you're right: there are no unanswered questions here, about anything, and the Senate is simply wasting its time asking questions.

What do you mean "no one here has argued" that Lam should have been given another 4-year term? Lam's first 4-year term was up. There were therefore only two long-term options on the table: 1) Appoint a successor; or 2) Give her a second 4-year term. You guys are getting all excited over the scandal that the Bush administration pursued option number 1. That leaves only option 2.

Thanks for the samples of your Phd thesis...

If you have samples of my PhD thesis, would you mind telling me how I managed to finesse the fact that I can't properly diagonalize over the dense classes -- even exploiting 0^# -- to port genericity to a suborder, at least not without (amenably) introducing new dense classes? 'cause I'm having the devil's own time trying to figure that out on my own.

you know what, John Doe, you're right: there are no unanswered questions here, about anything, and the Senate is simply wasting its time asking questions.

Again with the lack of substance. This is obviously a sign of desperation at being unable to counter any of the actual evidence about Lam, yet unwilling to admit that there may not be any scandal there at all.

Anyway, the Senate can ask questions all it wants. And there are indeed unanswered questions about other USAs (Iglesias comes to mind). If you haven't noticed, I was just talking about Lam.

Again, though, the fact that certain folks are so gullible as to believe every scandal-mongering story they come across, with not even a gesture at exploring the facts for themselves, is a bad sign.

What do you mean "no one here has argued" that Lam should have been given another 4-year term? Lam's first 4-year term was up. There were therefore only two long-term options on the table: 1) Appoint a successor; or 2) Give her a second 4-year term. You guys are getting all excited over the scandal that the Bush administration pursued option number 1. That leaves only option 2.

Where does it say that if she's not replaced she automatically serves another four years?

This is obviously a sign of desperation...

Wrong again. For a significant number of people, it's a sign of exhaustion with your continued insults and puerility. I myself have taken to pretty much ignoring anything you say, though I haven't yet killfiled you because -- eternal optimist that I am -- I continue to hope that you might actually tone down the jackassery and say something worth responding to.

And as an aside, speaking of hackery: you are, by your own metric, dishonest -- see the previous thread -- and thus by your own standards a waste of space. I'd suggest, therefore, that you tone down the attitude and attempt to participate in civil discourse. You're perfectly free to ignore this advice, of course, just as I'm perfectly free to plonk you; and you're perfectly free to believe that this is because I'm a hack, or gullible, or whatever, despite copious evidence to the contrary. But hey, "desperation" might become you, who knows?

This is obviously a sign of desperation

honestly, it's a sign that i'm tired of your constant belligerent attempts at distraction.

i don't believe you have all the answers in the Lam case, despite your constant assertions that you're the only person here who can see things clearly.

so, you can call be all the names you like, but i'm just gonna drop this because i don't think you're arguing in good faith.

good day, sir

OK, set aside my rhetoric for a moment, and pay attention to the links that I supplied. How about that? Got any answer to the PDF file of emails showing that Lam was scheduled to be replaced long before any of the political prosecutions in question? Got any response to the LA Times story showing that Lam wasn't even the one prosecuting Jerry Lewis (which makes total nonsense out of the conspiratorial theory you guys have, that she was removed to prevent his prosecution)?

If you claim that these facts aren't even worth "responding to," you're not approaching this issue with anything like good faith.

There were therefore only two long-term options on the table: 1) Appoint a successor; or 2) Give her a second 4-year term.

This is a view of the situation which may look good on paper, but bears no relationship to how US Attorney appointments have been handled historically. As the Administration's own emails admit:

In recent memory, during the Reagan and Clinton administrations, Presidents Reagan and Clinton did not seek to remove and replace U.S. Attorneys they had appointed whose four-year terms had expired, but instead permitted such U.S. Attorneys to serve indefinitely.

There is no foundation for this idea that in the past, US Attorneys served theif four years and then were routinely shown the door if the administration that appointed them decided not to give them another four-year term. The historical precedent is that once appointed, US Attorneys virtually always serve out the duration of the appointing President's term; when something occurs which is contrary to virtually all the precedents, it's natural to ask why.

OK, fair enough. Still, the statute merely says that when the four-year term is up, the USA has to still do her duties until the successor is in office. That seems to assume that a successor is on the way, and merely allows the previous USA to keep on plugging away for a short interim period so that there's not a gap in authority.

Is there any statutory basis, however, for the notion that after a 4-year term expires, the President should just completely ignore the situation -- neither reappoint the USA nor appoint a successor, but merely let the previous and expired USA keep serving for years on end? Even if Reagan and Clinton did that occasionally, I don't see how it was legal.

Anyway, all of this is rather beside the point. USAs have 4-year terms, by law. There is absolutely nothing untoward, in and of itself, about a President seeking to appoint a new USA at that time.

And even if you have "questions" about the Lam case, why haven't those questions already been answered? Read the links above. The rationale, as shown in emails from the time, is that people wanted her "woodshedded" for neglecting to prosecute illegal immigration cases. And the alternative theory -- that she was removed to interfere with the prosecution of Rep. Jerry Lewis -- doesn't even pass the laugh test. (To repeat, the timing is all wrong; and she wasn't even the USA handling that prosecution.)

So what sincere questions still remain about Lam?

Odd how the mere injection of a few facts into the debate over Carol Lam -- i.e., the timing is all wrong; Lam wasn't even the one prosecuting Jerry Lewis; etc. -- sends everyone scurrying away with the ludicrous excuse that they don't see anything "worth responding to," or that they are too offended by my rhetoric to be able to respond, etc.

Will someone tell me the name of the US Attorney President Carter fired that caused some controvery concerning the motive for the firing? Thanks RRMB2@hotmail.com

Nell said: "Bruce Rheinstein: Do you really not understand what 'mid-term' means?"

Sigh. This is what happens when you don't check to responses to your comments.

U.S. Attorneys serve a four year term pursuant 28 USC 541. The U.S. Attorneys in question had completed their terms and were not reappointed for a second term. Those fired at the beginning of the Clinton Administration did not complete their terms.

Bruce: Those fired at the beginning of the Clinton Administration did not complete their terms.

Nor were they appointed by the Clinton administration.

George W. Bush did an identical clean sweep of all US attorneys appointed by Clinton at the beginning of his administration.

"George W. Bush did an identical clean sweep of all US attorneys appointed by Clinton at the beginning of his administration."

Yes, but that wasn't the argument. I was called to task about the issue of firing U.S. Attorneys "mid-term". They serve a four year term and Clinton fired them all mid-term when he took office. The fact that Bush then followed in Clinton's footsteps isn't the point.

There's a big difference between firing a U.S. Attorney and not reappointing him. The statement that "George W. Bush managed to fire more attorneys on one day than had been fired in mid-term during the previous 25 years" conflates the two. While unusual, there is no facial irregularity in not reappointing a U.S. Attorney.

Sorry, but this doesn't make a lick of sense. Please. Explain.

Which part doesn't make sense?

U.S. Attorneys are appointed for a term of four years by statute.

President Clinton fired all of the U.S. attorneys mid-term when he took office (George W. Bush did the same, but that's not the issue.)

There is a fundamental difference between firing a public official and not reappointing him when his statutory term of office expires.

The attorneys at issue were not fired mid-term. They were not reappointed when their terms expired.

So, when Nell asks, "Bruce Rheinstein: Do you really not understand what 'mid-term' means?", the answer is I do. Does she?

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