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April 14, 2007

AG's chart of US attorneys' politics

A handy dandy chart has come to light:

WASHINGTON - The Justice Department weighed political activism and membership in a conservative law group in evaluating the nation's federal prosecutors, documents released in the probe of fired U.S. attorneys show.

The political credentials were listed on a chart of 124 U.S. attorneys nominated since 2001, a document that could bolster Democrats' claims that the traditionally independent Justice Department has become more partisan during the Bush administration. [AP]

The chart was released as part of yesterday's document dump. The Justice Department released thousands of pages of documents to congressional committees investigating whether eight U.S. attorneys were fired for political reasons.

Membership in the Federalist Society was a plus for aspiring U.S. attorneys in the Bush administration:

The chart underscores the weight that conservative credentials carried with the Justice Department.

The three-page spreadsheet notes the "political experience" of each prosecutor, which was defined as work at the Justice Department's headquarters in Washington, on Capitol Hill, for state or local officials, and on campaigns or for political parties.

Several of the 124 prosecutors on the list were also members of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies. The group was founded by conservative law students and now claims 35,000 members, including prominent members of the Bush administration, the federal judiciary and Congress.

How the information was used by the administration isn't clear.

One of the eight attorneys fired in December — Kevin Ryan, the prosecutor in San Francisco — was a Federalist Society member.

Two others, David Iglesias in New Mexico and Bud Cummins in Little Rock, Ark., held Republican Party posts or ran for office before being tapped as U.S. attorneys, the chart shows.

The documents reveal a new contradiction in officials' accounting of the firings, indicating that replacements for those dismissed were chosen by Justice officials nearly a year beforehand. [AP]

Gonzales aide Kyle Sampson testified that he used private email accounts to discuss the US attorney firings. Karl Rove's lawyer now admits that his client is missing four years of email.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) suggests that these messages sent through private accounts were part of an coordinated effort by Republicans to circumvent the Presidential Records Act.

Rove's lawyer says that his client didn't mean to delete all those emails. He allegedly thought these messages were being archived, which sure is odd, because until the RNC had a policy of deleting emails every 30 days.

Luskin was seeking to tamp down criticism from Democrats that Rove may have been working outside the White House system to avoid scrutiny. Why Rove would have believed his RNC e-mail was being saved was uncertain. Until 2004, the RNC had a policy of deleting e-mail, including that from White House officials, after 30 days. Luskin said he was unaware why Rove believed the RNC e-mail was being saved. [WaPo]

Official White House instructions on email-handling from 2001 states that staffers must only use authorized government accounts for their work-related correspondence. A month after these guidelines were issued, then-White House counsel Alberto Gonzales sent a memo to staffers ordering them to preserve all email by printing it or forwarding it to their government accounts. 

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Comments

The chart also should have included columns such as "Regent University grad?", "Geneva Conventions 'quaint'?", "Good at deleting emails?", "Experience with real estate law?", and "Experience with horse law?"

Mainly I love how, amidst the standard attempt to bury something in a massive amount of paper, someone clearly decided to knee-cap Gonzales.

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