The US attorney firings can be seen as part of a plan to turn the entire Department of Justice into an arm of the Republican Party, so it could perpetrate partisan prosecutions, the logical extension of Karl Rove’s “dirty tricks” strategy. That meant that the people in the Department who made prosecutorial decisions had to be very partisan.
By the time of the 2004 elections, the Bush administration realized that it had made one very major mistake in its hirings, and that mistake was Deputy Attorney General James Comey, the man whose job it was to actually run the Justice Department. Comey and Attorney General Ashcroft were both Republicans, but were above the kind of politicization of DoJ that was demanded by Rove et al. As a result, there were at least two major fiascos, one being the refusal of the entire DoJ to go along with certain aspects of a new domestic surveillance program, and the other being the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald, who successfully prosecuted Scooter Libby.
The resignation of Ashcroft and the departure of Comey must be seen in that light. The ultimate Bushie, Alberto Gonzales, was brought in to obliterate the independence of the ODAG:
“Mr. Sampson explained to me a vision for the operation of the Attorney General’s office and the Office of the Deputy Attorney General that would involve operating those respective staffs as essentially one staff,” Comey wrote in responses to questions for the record submitted by members of the House Judiciary Committee. The responses were sent to RAW STORY.
Comey went on to explain how Gonzales’s plan to merge his office with Comey’s would have eliminated a layer of oversight on the Attorney General’s decision-making.
One of the necessary steps in “merging” (which was really removing the power of the DAG) was as the secret memo that took the power of hiring and firing away from the Deputy (Paul McNulty, who had replaced Comey) and gave it to two young rabid GOP operatives, Monica Goodling and Kyle Sampson, who were on Gonzales’ staff.
Most of the machinations that led to the firing of the US attorneys were accomplished under this scheme of taking the DAG out of the loop. Of course, now Gonzales has adopted the strategy of trying to blame any misjudgments on McNulty, a tack which has been widely noticed in the press as well as by the Congress.
Looking back, things that I would have done differently? I think I would have had the deputy attorney general more involved, directly involved,” Gonzales said in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee in April.
But in a May 15 press conference, Gonzales appeared to reverse himself and pin most of the responsibility for the firing of the US Attorneys on McNulty.
“The one person that I would care about would be the views of the deputy attorney general, because the deputy attorney general is the direct supervisor of the United States attorneys. And in this particular case, Mr. McNulty was a former colleague of all of these United States attorneys, and so he would probably know better than anyone else about the performance and the qualifications of these — of our United States attorney community,” Gonzales said.
He went on, “My understanding was was that Mr. Sampson’s recommendations reflected a consensus view of the senior leadership of the department, in particular the deputy attorney general.”
Gonzales may somehow be allowed to serve out his term, but that is a true “miscarriage of Justice.”