The administration has recently forced at least seven U.S. attorneys to resign. Several of these prosecutors were working on high-profile corruption cases, such as Carol Lam, who successfully investigated the corruption of former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham. In their places, U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has appointed partisan administration allies.
Earlier this week, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty admitted that the U.S. attorney in Arkansas, Bud Cummins, was pushed out to make way for a “37-year-old protege” of Karl Rove. Initially, the Justice Department tried to claim that Cummins left on his own. Cummins said the matter was “handled poorly” and he was given no explanation for his forced resignation.
According to McNulty’s Senate testimony, the other six were fired for “performance-related” issues. But of those six, two have now spoken out, rebutting McNulty’s empty excuses. They state that the Justice Department never cited poor performance — or gave any explanation at all — as a reason for being pushed out:
Daniel G. Bogden, former U.S. Attorney in Nevada:
“I was told I serve as a presidential appointee. Any further explanation than that, no, I was not giv[en] any explanation or reason for the request to step down. … We’ve done more gun cases, drug cases, gang cases, child exploitation cases, identity theft cases than any office has done in any five year period of time.”
John McKay, former U.S. Attorney in Washington:
McKay said he was called Dec. 7 by Michael A. Battle, head of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, who only months before had sent him a congratulatory letter for the laudatory report issued by the Justice Department audit team. He said Battle told him to resign by the end of January. “When I was composed enough to ask him why, he told me he couldn’t answer any of my questions. … He said nothing about performance issues or management or anything else.”
Yesterday, the Senate Judiciary Committee pushed back on the Bush administration’s attempts to install unqualified administration allies as U.S. attorneys. It passed legislation repealing a little-noticed provision in the Patriot Act that allows the attorney general to appoint U.S. attorneys for indefinite periods of time.