Gonzales’s Former Assistant Causes Turmoil As U.S. Attorney

The Justice Department has faced criticism not only for firing well-respected U.S. attorneys, but also for replacing them with loyal Bushies.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota demonstrates the havoc that ensues when the Bush administration places politics over justice. Four top staffers to Rachel Paulose, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota, have voluntarily demoted themselves in protest of Paulose’s “highly dictatorial style” of managing. Paulose has also “earned a reputation for quoting Bible verses and dressing down underlings.”

According to news reports, the staffers’ dramatic moves were “intended to send a message to Washington — that 33-year-old Paulose is in over her head.” The Bush administration tried to prevent the resignations by sending a “top justice official to Minneapolis Thursday to mediate the situation. The mediation failed.”

A look at Paulose’s background indicates that she was handpicked by the Justice Department because of her personal connections, rather than her professional qualifications:

She was a special assistant to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, worked as a senior counsel for deputy attorney general Paul McNulty and is best buds with Monica Goodling — the assistant U.S. Attorney who recently took the Fifth rather than testify before Congress.

Add to the suspicions the fact that Minnesota’s former U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger stepped down just as the White House was developing its hit list.

Paulose had been in her position for a year as an interim U.S. attorney before she was sworn-in officially last month. She created controversy when her lavish swearing-in ceremony included a professional photographer, a color guard, and a choir.

The Bush administration justified several of its firings of the eight U.S. attorneys by baselessly criticizing their management styles. We await the Justice Department’s response to Paulose.

(TPM and Sepia Mutiny have more.)

UPDATE: In a statement Friday, Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse described Paulose as “dedicated to leading an effective U.S. attorneys office in Minnesota and enforcing the laws to ensure public safety. … We are confident during this transition period that the U.S. Attorneys office will remain focused on its law enforcement priorities.”