Abramoff Lead Prosecutor to Leave Investigation

Noel Hillman has been leading the Abramoff lobbying investigation for two years. He's about to leave it because President Bush has nominated him for a federal judgeship.

The prosecutor, Noel L. Hillman, is chief of the department's public integrity division, and the move ends his involvement in an inquiry that has reached into the administration as well as the top ranks of the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill.

....Colleagues at the Justice Department say Mr. Hillman has been involved in day-to-day management of the Abramoff investigation since it began almost two year ago. The inquiry, which initially focused on accusations that Mr. Abramoff defrauded Indian tribes out of tens of millions of dollars in lobbying fees, is being described within the department as the most important federal corruption investigation in a generation.

Democrat Senators Chuck Schumer and Ken Salazar and two Congressman say this is even more reason to appoint a special prosecutor and wrote Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a letter yesterday requesting he appoint one:

The timing of Mr. Hillman's nomination "jaundices this whole process," Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said in an interview. "They have to appoint a special counsel. I think there will be broad support for one."

Now there are two investigations that need a special prosecutor: this one and one into Bush's warrantless NSA electronic surveillance program. Will we get either one?

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