Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

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Friday, June 15, 2007
Gonzales on the rocks

The Incompetent Mr. Gonzales is now under investigation by his own Justice Department in yet another offshoot of the U.S. attorney firing scandals -- this one involving Alberto's apparent attempts to coordinate his testimony with Monica Goodling's. A meeting with Gonzales to "discuss their recollections" which was described by Goodling during her May 31 testimony was regarded, even by the bottom tier law student, as "inappropriate"... what's worse, Gonzales testified under oath, before Ms. Goodling did (under a guarantee of immunity from prosecution, no less) that he did not discuss his testimony with any other witness prior to his appearance before Congress. Oops. Sayeth the WaPo:

The announcement that Gonzales's conduct would be examined came from Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine and H. Marshall Jarrett, counsel of the Office of Professional Responsibility. "This is to confirm that the scope of our investigation does include this matter," Fine and Jarrett said in a letter to Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the chairman and ranking minority member, respectively, of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Fine has the authority to refer cases for possible criminal prosecution if warranted, and both he and Jarrett can recommend disciplinary action for violations of internal ethics guidelines or other rules of professional conduct.

The revelation further expands the publicly known contours of the Justice Department's internal investigation, which is examining the removal of the prosecutors and whether any laws or policies were violated in the hiring of career prosecutors, immigration judges and others.
Meanwhile, TPMMuckraker reports there has been another resignation from the department now euphemistically referred to as "Justice" -- Mike Elston, who had been chief of staff to former deputy A.G. and in-house scapegoat Paul McNulty. He slunk out of town quietly today. The Muckrakers report:

Some highlights from Elston's tenure at DoJ:

-- He allegedly called three of the fired U.S. attorneys and made an implicit threat that the Justice Department would detail the reasons for their firings if they didn't stay quiet.

-- He allegedly rejected a large number of applicants to Justice Department positions because they were Democrats.

-- When Carol Lam, the former U.S. attorney for San Diego, asked to stay on the job longer in order to deal with some outstanding prosecutions (the expanding Duke Cunningham case among them), Elston told her not to think about her cases, that she should be gone in "weeks, not months" and said "these instructions were 'coming from the very highest levels of the government.'"

-- He called around to the U.S. attorneys whom he had placed on one of the draft firing lists to apologize when he discovered that his list would be turned over to Congress.
And the Muckrakers also have more information on another Gonzales flunky:

During a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Bradley Schlozman, the controversial former senior political appointee in the Civil Rights Division, was battered with questions about his efforts to politicize the division.

A number of those questions from senators centered on Schlozman's efforts to purge the appellate section of the Civil Rights Division -- the small, but important section that handles civil rights cases in the court of appeals. What were they getting at? An anonymous complaint against Schlozman sent to the Justice Department's inspector general in December of 2005 spelled out the allegations. The complaint, obtained by TPMmuckraker, was filed by a former Department lawyer. You can read it here.

"Bradley J. Schlozman is systematically attempting to purge all Civil Rights appellate attorneys hired under Democratic administrations," the lawyer wrote, saying that he appeared to be "targeting minority women lawyers" in the section and was replacing them with "white, invariably Christian men." The lawyer also alleged that "Schlozman told one recently hired attorney that it was his intention to drive these attorneys out of the Appellate Section so that he could replace them with 'good Americans.'"

The anonymous complaint named three female, minority lawyers whom Schlozman had transferred out of the appellate section (of African-American, Jewish, and Chinese ethnicity, respectively) for no apparent reason. And in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this week in response to questions from senators, the Justice Department confirmed that all three had been transferred out by Schlozman -- and then transferred back in after Schlozman had left the Division. ...

So much for justice...

With his support among Democrats at its nadir and support dwindling, even among Republicans, what Alberto has left are two things: the loyalty of his friend, George W. Bush, and the protection of Bush's remaining lackeys in Congress, who are willing to serve as human shields for the administration, possibly until the end of his term, or their careers, whichever comes first. But for that, Gonzo would be gonzo.

As it is, he remains a potent symbol of the utter worthlessness of the Bush administration. And as such, he's a rather useful idiot.

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posted by JReid @ 7:10 PM  
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