Monday, March 26, 2007

More on the US Attorneys scandal

Just as a follow up to the last post I wanted to give some examples of the fine work being done by Josh Marshall over at .

On why these firings matter Josh writes:

So, all of this is to say that no system is perfect and
partisan affiliation may distort the justice system at the margins.

But none of what we're seeing here is at the margins. What we seem to see are repeated cases in which US Attorneys were fired for not pursuing bogus prosecutions of persons of the opposite party. Or vice versa. There's little doubt that that is why McKay and Iglesias were fired and there's mounting evidence that this was the case in other firings as well. The idea that a senator calls a US Attorney at home just weeks before a federal elections and tries to jawbone him into
indicting someone to help a friend get reelected is shocking. Think about it for
a second. It's genuinely shocking. At a minimum one would imagine such bad acts
take place with more indirection and deniability. And yet the Domenici-Iglesias
call has now been relegated to the status of a footnote in the expanding
scandal, notwithstanding the fact that there's now documentary evidence showing
that Domenici's substantial calls to the White House and Justice Department
played a direct role in getting Iglesias fired.

On the presidents continued support for Alberto Gonzales even though it has been documented that Mr. Gonzales has repeated lied about his involvement in the firing of these US attorneys, Josh writes:

And the president is fine with all of this. Fine with the fact that the
Attorney General has not only repeatedly lied to the public but has also been
exposed as repeatedly lying
to the public. He's fine with at least two US
Attorneys being fired for not giving in to pressure to file bogus charges to
help Republican candidates.

Of course he's fine with it. Because it comes from him. None of this is about Alberto Gonzales. This is about the president and the White House, which is where this entire plan was hatched. Gonzales was just following orders, executing the president's plans. This is about this president and this White House, which ... let's be honest, everyone on both sides of the aisle already knows.

And today he reports that most of Karl Roves emails have been sent using RNC accounts:

According to the National Journal, about 95% of Karl Rove's email traffic has been on these RNC email accounts.

Now, I don't know all the legal and constitutional ins and outs of this debate. But whatever claim the White House may have to protect everyone at the White House from congressional scrutiny by invoking executive privilege, this use of outside private email accounts may turn out to be too clever by half.

Can executive privilege even conceiveably cover emails from the Republican National Committee? By any definition, those aren't emails written or received by anyone in their capacity as a presidential advisor. They're private and have nothing to do with the president in his executive capacity.

It's good stuff, check it out.

US Attorney scandal rolls on

The scandal surrounding the firing of eight US attorneys shortly after last years election just keeps getting more interesting. If you have not been following these events, Josh Marshall and his staff at our doing an excellent job documenting these firings. I highly recommend checking out his site.

What I find interesting is that this appears to leading to a showdown between the Congress and the Bush Administration's theory of the Unitary Executive. Bush, mainly thru consultations with Cheney who has long supported this view, believes that the Executive branch is supreme and the other two branches of our government cannot constitutionally challenge the Executive, particularly in a time of war. To me, this is a patently unamerican interpretation of our Constitution. The Unitary Executive directly contradicts the concept of three equal branches of government which we have been taught since grade school.

It was only a matter of time, before the new Democratically controlled Congress challenged this concept. With so many hearings being conducted simultaneously, who knew which hearing the Bush Administration would refuse to cooperate with. But, given their history, their eventual defiance of Congressional oversight was as sure as the setting of the sun. Bush tossed the gauntlet last week when he went on national TV and announced that he would not allow members of his staff to testify under oath to Congressional judicial oversight committees. Both the senate and house judicial committees responded by voting to subpoena Harriet Miers, and Karl Rove and demand their public testimony under oath. So this is it. Is the Bush Administration above the law, or will members of the Administration have to appear in these hearings? Stay tuned, things are just beginning to heat up.