On Jan. 18, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under oath, that he never intended to take advantage of a Patriot Act provision that allows the President to appoint “interim” U.S. attorneys for an indefinite period of time, without Senate confirmation:
I am fully committed, as the administration’s fully committed, to ensure that, with respect to every United States attorney position in this country, we will have a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed United States attorney.
Similarly, on Dec. 15, 2006, Gonzales personally assured Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) that Karl Rove-protege Tim Griffin would face Senate confirmation.
Before the Patriot Act was changed in 2005, the Attorney General could appoint interim U.S. attorneys to serve for a maximum of 120 days. After that time period, they needed to receive Senate confirmation or the federal district court in the vacant office’s district would name a replacement.
As emptywheel notes at Firedoglake, Griffin’s 120 days were up on April 20. Griffin has announced that he had “made the decision not to let my name go forward to the Senate.” Yet the Bush administration has not named a replacement candidate.
In early March, Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) said that he was “interviewing candidates to recommend as replacements for Griffin.” ThinkProgress spoke with Boozman’s office today, which confirmed that on March 30, Boozman submitted three names to the White House to replace Griffin. His office said that it has not heard from the administration on the state of the process.
Griffin remains as U.S. attorney in Arkansas and has stated that he is ready and willing to serve until the end of Bush’s term. If Gonzales was serious about installing “a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed United States attorney,” he would have replaced Griffin by now. Evidently, he instead plans to “gum to death” the process.
UPDATE: The Arkansas Blog notes that Griffin was appointed under the Patriot Act, and therefore is legally allowed to serve indefinitely. Yet nevertheless, Gonzales still promised senators that he never intended to take advantage of the provision.