My friend Kevin Schofield has put up a good summary page, with many links, and with a good sense of balance.
I thought on this drizzly Seattle morning, I'd take a moment to summarize what I think are decent reasons to consider this a scandal, and things we should set aside.
Let's start with the "not a scandal" category.
1. This is not about firing attorneys for political reasons. US attorneys do serve at the pleasure of the President
Now the "definitely a scandal" category:
1. Most of the attorneys were fired after aggressively pursuing corruption investigations of Republicans. In the case of Carol Lam, there's documentation that shows that immediately after informing her superiors in DC about her investigation, they considered her a "real problem." If they were fired to protect Republicans, then there's hell to pay. There isn't enough evidence yet to show a causal relationship, but it's suspicious enough and a broad enough pattern to deserve a full accounting and investigation. There's a clear distinction to be made here between this and "firing for political reasons." This is a case of firing attorneys to influence the outcome of actual cases being pursued against members of the administration's own party.
Check it out here.
One thing I picked up on last night, not mentiioned on Kevin's page (and I don't have the source so don't ask... if I find it, I'll post an update) is that if you total up the investigations against politicians the fired US Attorneys were involved in by party, they were actually investigating more Democrats than they were investigating Republicans, but this doesn't seem enough to have safeguarded them from political retaliation for specific investigations.
1. Chris Whisonant03/26/2007 02:45:43 PM
93 in '93...
08 in '07...
2. Richard Schwartz03/26/2007 03:52:34 PM
Nice repetition of the Fox Snooze talking points, Chris.
But you forgot '91 in '01.
US Attorneys are political appointees, serving at the pleasure of the President, but serving the people and the Constitution before the President. As political appointees, they have no expectation of keeping their jobs past the inauguration of a new administration. Requesting and accepting the resignations of incumbent US Attorneys at the beginning of a new administration is routine, expected behavior. It is political, but broadly political. But when the newly politically appointed US Attorneys come into office, they don't swear their oaths to President and party!
As servants of the the Constitution and the people, the US Attorneys have every expectation that the President's pleasure is tempered by his own oath to defend the Constitution, which in its first sentence says that its purpose is "in order to... establish Justice". And We the People have that expectation, too.
Aside: I like the old convention of capitalizing nouns of real importance, which is why I capitalized "Justice" above, as it is in the original text of the Constitution. We capitalize the word President to show respect, and the Constitution itself mandates that Justice is an even higher authority than the President.
The expectation of US Attorneys and of We the People is that in matters of Justice, the President's pleasure is best based on how well his servants perform their service in the name of Justice; not on how well they perform their service in the name of the President's party. Mid-term firings of even a few US Attorneys because they have not served the party zealously enough are anything but routine. Such an act is not broadly political, the way start of term dismissals and new appointments are. It is a narrowly political act, aimed at specific individuals, and done to advance party objectives and to reinforce party loyalty and therefore loyalty to the administration, over and above loyalty to Justice and the oath of office.
In the past quarter century, no more than 5, and possibly only 2 (numbers are fuzzy, because exact reasons for US Attorney dismissals are not always made fully public) US Attorneys have been dismissed for reasons other than actual misconduct. Source: http://www.acsblog.org/separation-of-powers-caplan-on-why-the-us-attorney-firings-are-unprecedented.html