Sen. Coleman Now Backtracking From U.S. Attorney He Once Championed

In 2006, Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN) championed the nomination of Rachel Paulose to U.S. attorney in Minnesota. Last week, four top staffers to Paulose voluntarily demoted themselves in protest of Paulose’s “highly dictatorial style” of managing. Immediately after the resignations, Coleman’s office issued a statement of unqualified support for Paulose:

Rachel Paulose was nominated to be U.S. Attorney based solely on her exemplary qualifications and experience. She was confirmed with the bipartisan support of Senator Coleman, former Senator Dayton, and the entire United States Senate. She replaced someone who resigned, not someone who was fired, and her nomination should not be confused with the current controversy over the recent dismissal of several U.S. attorneys in other jurisdictions.

But 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 [former Justice official] Monica Goodling.”

With the national media now highlighting the Paulose case, Coleman is backing away from his previous statements of support, saying that Paulose needs to explain her situation “given the recent issues related to the U.S. attorneys nationwide.” In a letter to Paulose he wrote:

As you know, your confirmation to be U.S. attorney enjoyed bipartisan support and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate because of your outstanding qualifications. At the same time, there are clearly managerial issues that need to be acknowledged and rectified. … Given recent issues related to U.S. attorneys nationwide that have now extended to your own position, I urge you to take immediate action to shed light on the resignations and address the concerns which have been raised relative to your management skills.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) has called on Congress to look into the case, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has written to the Justice Department requesting information that shows “any political pressure by the Justice Department or White House.”