Today during a press briefing in Mexico, President Bush attempted to defend his prosecutor purge, stating that firing prosecutors “has been a customary practice by presidents. U.S. attorneys and others serve at the pleasure of the President. Past administrations have removed U.S. attorneys. It is their right to do so.” Watch it:
Mass firings are common when a president takes office. But as current and former administration officials have confirmed, Bush’s purge of well-qualified prosecutors is unprecendented.
Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson (resigned two days ago), 1/9/07:
In recent memory, during the Reagan and Clinton Administrations, Presidents Reagan and Clinton did not seek to remove and replace U.S. Attorneys to serve indefinitely under the holdover provision.
Former Clinton chief of staff John Podesta, 3/8/07:
Mr. Rove’s claims [last week] that the Bush administration’s purge of qualified and capable U.S. attorneys is “normal and ordinary” is pure fiction. Replacing most U.S. attorneys when a new administration comes in — as we did in 1993 and the Bush administration did in 2001 — is not unusual. But the Clinton administration never fired federal prosecutors as pure political retribution.
Former U.S. attorney Mary Jo White, 3/5/07:
However, throughout modern history, my understanding is, you did not change the U.S. attorney during an administration, unless there was some evidence of misconduct or other really quite significant cause to do so.
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