March 29, 2007
Still the Fever
So the fever continues to rage; the entire Left (and elements of the Right) continue to demand that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resign for... well, for some nameless offense to be filled in later.
"Let the jury consider their verdict," the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.
"No, no!" said the Queen. "Sentence first--verdict afterwards."
Despite the scary lede in the AP story (and in the New York Times, as well), there is actually nothing new in Kyle Sampson's testimony about Gonzales' involvement in discussions about firing eight U.S. Attorneys who flagrantly ignored the administration's prosecutorial priorities:
Contrary to his public statements, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was deeply involved in the firing of eight federal prosecutors, his former top aide said Thursday, adding that the final decision on who was to be dismissed was made by Gonzales and President Bush's former counsel.
"I don't think the attorney general's statement that he was not involved in any discussions of U.S. attorney removals was accurate," Kyle Sampson, who quit this month as Gonzales' chief of staff, told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign."
Get it? Sampson says Gonzales discussed the process, not the specifics of who would go and who would stay. The state of play is unchanged from our earlier post last Saturday, What the Meaning of "Fizz" Is. We wrote then:
Any ordinary person, when asked if he was involved in discussions about firing the attorneys, would understand the question to mean, "Did you participate in discussions about which attorneys -- if any -- to fire?" And he would honestly say "No, I did not."
Nobody but a Democrat in full cry, anxious to find something, anything, to justify more scandalmongering, would imagine that the original question would also include any ancillary discussions about the best way to break the news to the press!
And we're sticking by it... no matter how gravely Blake Dvorak over on Real Clear Politics shakes his hoary locks... more in sorrow than in anger, you understand.
We agree with Paul Mirengoff: So far, there is no "there" there, no evidence of any lying to or misleading Congress, the American people, or anybody else. Here is the sequence of events, best as I can suss it out:
- Around the time of the 2004 election and for some time afterwards, President Bush, Alberto Gonzales, and others receive complaints about some U.S. Attorneys: They've got a different set of prosecutorial priorities than does the administration; they're bad managers; they're unresponsive.
- Bush tells Gonzales to do something about it. Such appointments aren't eternal; some people should go, others should stay.
- Gonzales considers this a completely non-controversial issue (as it was and always had been), so he dumps it in the lap of his assisstant, Kyle Sampson.
- Sampson proposes firing them all, but Gonzales rejects that idea. It's positively Clintonian.
- Sampson has some discussions with Gonzales about what process to use to figure out who to sack, how to select replacements, how to go about getting the new attorneys confirmed (or whether to use the USA Patriot Act to bypass Senate confirmation), and finally how to announce the sackings.
- Sampson and others in the Justice Department hold discussions, meetings, send e-mails back and forth, talk on the phone, pore over records, all about which attorneys stay and which are asked to leave. There is at this time no evidence that Gonzales was any part of this process.
- The Justice Department group draws up a final list of people they want to replace. The list is sent to the AG.
- Gonzales signs off on the final list and gets the president's approval. He is still unaware that, notwithstanding all the other times U.S. Attorneys have been fired for similar reasons -- and notwithstanding President Bill Clinton's firing of all 93 U.S. Attorneys when he first took office in 1993 (one, Michael Chertoff, slopped over to 1994) -- this time, it will be played by the press as a horrific and unprecedented abuse of power.
- Democrats get hold of the list and gin up a fake controversy by falsely alleging that U.S. Attorneys were fired to stop prosecutions of Republicans. There is no evidence of this, but the Democratic Party's media wing promotes it as inarguable.
- Gonzales is asked whether he participated in discussions about the fired attorneys. He evidently interprets the question as asking whether he participated in the discussions about which attorneys, in particular, to fire; he says no, he left that to Sampson.
- Gonzales subsequently pours gasoline on the fire; when he is assailed in the press by nasty sound-bites from Democrats on the Judiciary Committee, Gonzales apologizes, clarifies, offers to testify, and showing other signs of weakness. Democrats scent blood in the water.
Democrats threaten to subpoena top presidential advisors, including Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, for political show trials -- which would likely violate the constitutional separation of powers doctrine. Nevertheless, Sen. Pat "Leaky" Leahy (D-VT, 95%) obtains the authority to issue those subpoenas... on a party-line vote in the J-Com. But he seems to have quietly dropped the idea of issuing them.
(Was it all a bluff, just blustering to make Leahy look stronger than he really is? We'll know after a couple more weeks, I think.)
- Democrats release documents showing that Gonzales participated in some process meetings; the elite media takes the cue, running the story as if this "contradicts" Gonzales' earlier statement.
- Numerous members of Congress -- mostly Democrats but a few rancid Republicans, such as Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA, 43%) -- accuse Gonzales of "lying" and "misleading" Congress when he said he wasn't involved in the attorney-firing discussions. Again, Democrats cast disagreement about the scope of the question as a federal felony, hoping to send the Attorney General of the United States to prison over political differences.
- (Not so) shockingly, several conservative commentators and bloggers ("I name no names..."), who never liked Gonzales in the first place, seize upon these accusations to join with Democrats in calling for Gonzales' ouster... hoping, evidently, to ensure he won't be named to the Supreme Court.
- Kyle Sampson voluntarily testifies before the J-Com, saying pretty much all of the above. The Democrats leap upon the table and perform the Grand Triumphal March from Aida, acting as if this proves everything they had alleged. (Academy awards are seriously being considered.)
The same conservatives noted above previously demanded and received Harriet Miers' withdrawal as Supreme Court nominee and Don Rumsfeld's resignation as Secretary of Defense.
Many of them currently also demand the resignation of Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, Michael Chertoff as Secretary of Homeland Security and the dismantling of that department. And they have complained bitterly about Gen. Michael Hayden as CIA Director, John Negroponte as the first Director of National Intelligence, and Mike McConnell as current Director of National Security. (I'm not sure what they do during the brief moments when they're not attacking the Bush administration.)
To some, this event-line provokes a non-stop threnody of the horrific "incompetence" and "dishonesty" of Alberto Gonzales. To me, it provokes nothing but annoyance that the traditional reactions and responses of bureaucrats must always be cast as demanding humiliation, dismissal, and incarceration for everyone even remotely connected... but only when the bureaucrats in question are Republicans.
Oh dear, have I discovered another Democratic double-standard... complete with conservatives eager to accept, in order it to trash their hated neocon rivals? Never mind!
Here, feast on this delicious irony instead. From the AP article linked above:
Democrats rejected the concept of mixing politics with federal law enforcement. They accused the Bush administration of cronyism and trying to circumvent the Senate confirmation process by installing favored GOP allies in plum jobs as U.S. attorneys.
"We have a situation that's highly improper. It corrodes the public's trust in our system of Justice," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. "It's wrong."
Yeah. And Webb Hubbell was appointed Associate Attorney General in 1993 solely because of his stellar record of legal achievement... and not at all because he was Hillary Clinton's partner at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas. And of course, those 93 U.S. Attorneys that Clinton fired (that would be all of them) were fired strictly for job-performance issues: Each and every one of them was a lousy lawyer. No politics there!
Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 29, 2007, at the time of 7:38 PM
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Another day in lefty land and they are going absolutely apes&*t over the Gonzales "scandal". Take a look at this headline: Ex-Aide: Gonzales Signed Off on Firings Or this one: Ex-Aide Rejects Gonzales Stand Over Dismissals Of course... [Read More]
Tracked on March 30, 2007 11:25 AM
The following hissed in response by: TBinSTL
....and the Republicannibals are once again licking their chops.
The following hissed in response by: Steve
I don't know if you covered this or not, but Clinton didn't fire all 93 U.S. Attorneys in 1993. Michael Chertoff, installed in 1990 by George H.W. Bush as the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, was asked to resign in 1993 by the Clinton administration, but stayed on the job after then Sen. Bill Bradley (D-NJ) intervened on Chertoff's behalf. Chertoff stayed on the job until his 4-year term was up in 1994. Therefore, it is accurate to say that Clinton wanted to fire all 93 U.S. Attorneys in 1993, fired 92 of them right away, then the last of those 93 remained until 1994. Which then makes the statement "Clinton fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys" correct; it's just that he didn't fire them all in 1993.
For references, I cite this Media Research Center link; this Media Matters link (scroll to find "March 14 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning"); and this National Review article by Andrew McCarthy.
If you already knew this and covered it before, my apologies as I hadn't seen it.
The above hissed in response by: Steve at March 30, 2007 5:11 AM
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
I hadn't covered it; thanks for the correction!
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at March 30, 2007 5:19 AM
The following hissed in response by: SallyVee
Another Lizard post, another terrific new word. It's a colorful one: threnody. I thought it might be a typo, but nooooo.
So, yeah. The fever continues and causes more derangement by the minute. Thank you for chronicling it -- a tedious job that someone must do! I really think it's a loser for Dems and the Cut and Run Cons as well.
The following hissed in response by: Steve
BTW, I love your posts on this whole sorry situation. I'm no fan of Gonzales, but you make a great argument on why he should stay.
The above hissed in response by: Steve at March 30, 2007 6:43 AM
The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh
Gonzales was a weak choice from the beginning and would never have been considered if he weren't a longtime friend of the president.
Too, I think it would have been easier to get a really good choice for AG through the Senate in November 2004 (when Gonzales was nominated), right after Bush's victorious reelection, than today. Sadly, with less than two years to go in Bush's last term, it's absurdly easy for the Democrats to play "kick the can" and just not confirm anybody.
So I'm no fan of Alberto Gonzales, but trying to replace him at this date would be an unmitigated disaster.
The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh at March 30, 2007 12:48 PM
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