The setup: The Bush administration not long ago decided to do something rather unprecedented: fire a whole host of US attorneys all at once, mid-term, coincidentally after Democrats took over Congress. All of these people were Republicans, but most seemed to put their duties first before politics. Topping all of this off was that the firings and re-appointments were potentially going to be made easier (and quieter) by a previously obscure Patriot Act clause.
It might have ended there. Some Democratic bloggers picked up on it and made a little bit of noise over how odd this was (US attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president, but rarely are they let go en masse they generally all serve as long as the President does), and the administration finally lamely responded that the firings were based on “performance reasons.”
But, as it turns out, even loyal Republicans aren’t too crazy about people throwing them under the bus and calling them incompetent. So out came the glowing performance reviews of some of these folks, out comes letters from the DOJ telling them that they were on track, and it turns out that they were anything but incompetent.
Since then the scandal is growing: not only are their accusations that the firings were political, but specific conversations have been cited and accused showing politics in the sense of Congressional and White House Republicans wanting to game the justice system and not getting their way: conduct that would itself be liable for investigation on the grounds of obstruction of justice. We have Congressmen demanding that investigations be timed coincide with the midterm elections. We have complaints that prosecutors had prosecuted and convicted powerful Republicans (a major no no!), and now even some previously fired Republicans coming forward to say that they were threatened by Republicans politicians for opening corruption investigations. We have the quite obvious fear that now that Democrats have the investigation powers of Congress, that the only way to prevent them from going to court with what they find against powerful Republicans is to make sure the US Attorney Department is filled with people like Karl Roves former opposition research director rather than competent and ethical attorneys. People have pointed out that the Administration has slashed the budgets of US Attorney offices, leading to a large drop in the number of federal prosecutions.
So far, the administration has backpedaled from one explanation to the next, the most recent being admitting that the firings were political, but only in the sense that some other party loyalists needed to fatten their resumes. The guy ostensibly in charge of the firings has now also resigned, though claiming that his resignation has nothing to do with the incident.
This story has developed pretty far for something Bricker once tried to brush off as just another conspiracy theory. We have many of these Attorneys testifying this very week about conduct from Republican leaders that is, at the very least, quite unethical. Where is this all going to go?