Mukasey: No Prosecutions From U.S. Attorney Hiring Investigation

Attorney General Michael Mukasey today said there will be no prosecutions from the investigation into hiring practices of U.S. Attorneys.

“Where there is enough evidence to charge someone with a crime, we vigorously prosecute,” he said. “But not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime,” he said. As the inspector general’s report acknowledged, the hiring violations were such a case, because the wrongdoing violated federal civil service law, but not criminal law, he said.

“That does not mean, as some people have suggested, that those officials who were found by the joint reports to have committed misconduct have suffered no consequences,” Mr. Mukasey said. “Far from it. The officials most directly implicated in the misconduct left the Department to the accompaniment of substantial negative publicity.

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    I believe after reading this (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by standingup on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:03:33 PM EST
    from Mukasey, "Far from it. The officials most directly implicated in the misconduct left the Department to the accompaniment of substantial negative publicity," we are due for a where are they now?  Of course it should be balanced by a similar post of where the U.S. Attorneys who were fired, DOJ attorneys, staffers and interns who were fired, demoted, intimidated, forced out or not hired are now too.  

    And where are the real victims now (5.00 / 4) (#17)
    by Cream City on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:58:49 PM EST
    of those who were hired to be thugs and still have their jobs as USAA's after going after innocent people?  See Milwaukee USAA Steve Biskupic's horrifying prosection of Georgia Thompson, who went to prison and lost her home.

    She has her job back with the state of Wisconsin, but she never can get back what she had.  But Biskupic still has his job and his nice mansion here.  And other Biskupic victims of the Rethug "vote fraud" campaign remain in prison.

    I also condemn the governor of Wisconsin, and a Dem yet, who joined in condemning her, not defending her as a state employee maliciously persecuted and prosecuted.


    Yes (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by standingup on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 05:12:06 PM EST
    There is a very long list of victims too.  I doubt we will ever know the full extent of the politicization of the DOJ.  And none of this includes the erosion of trust in our system of justice.

    What is the meaning of this line? (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Oje on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:11:12 PM EST
    not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime

    Surely, it would be easy to argue that actions like civil disobedience to unjust laws in the pre-Civil Rights Era meet this standard, but how does civil rights violations in the hiring of AG staff and prosecution of civil rights cases meet this standard?

    Not a Crime (5.00 / 3) (#7)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:23:27 PM EST
    Violating the civil service laws is not a crime.  Breaking them does not subject you to criminal prosecution or penalties.  It subjects you to administrative/employment action.  None of these people still work for the Government, so there's no employment action to be taken against them.

    Lots of laws are like this.  Employment discrimination, for example, provides a civil remedy (lawsuit), but no criminal penalty.

    It does seem wrong that people who are not career employees (and so do not have as much a stake in preserving their jobs with the Government) are subject solely to actions as employees of the Government.  In other words, once they quit, there isn't anything the Government can do to them.

    The remaining legal jeopardy for them will be to see if people denied jobs or promotions sue these folks and, if so, whether the Government pays for their representation.  Given their admission that they violated the laws, the Government should not be providing representation.

    Also, there's been some talk about this being a basis for disbarment.


    Thanks for the clarification! (none / 0) (#11)
    by Oje on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:34:56 PM EST
    Leslie Hagen (none / 0) (#19)
    by Fabian on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 04:09:22 PM EST
    The woman who lost her job because she was targeted by the administration.  Does she have a suit against the administration?

    Ironically, she was a Republican who was hired by the Bush administration, got excellent ratings and rave reviews and then was just let go.  This particular case wasn't about hiring or not hiring, but about someone who may have their job too well.  After all, the hiring process was intended to provide the DOJ with compliant and loyal staff.  Apparently, the process was not perfect.

    (I have multiple complaints about this firing.
    Indian Affairs needs all the help it can get.
    The only excuse given was that there were "rumors" about the attorney's private life.
    An apparently stellar employee was dumped.  I prefer my taxes go to stellar employees instead of Monica Goodling.  I believe the position was left (intentionally?) open for months which did not serve the taxpayers or the BIA well.)


    Not Clear (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by BDB on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 04:38:19 PM EST
    I'm not an employment lawyer and I'm sure one could do a better job than I could explaining the ins and outs.  But she would've had to have been dismissed for a reason that is actionable under a statute or Constitution.  Generally, these would be things like race, gender, etc.  She might also have some action if she is covered by the Merit System, but if she's a political appointee she might be exempt.  There's very little political appointees can do if they're fired, they are exempt from a lot of the rules that apply to regular workers (for example, political beliefs can be taken into consideration).

    Some of these (none / 0) (#5)
    by Fabian on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:17:21 PM EST
    were not "Oopsies!", they were willful, deliberate and conscious decisions to violate the law.  

    A separate topic would be "Is hiring hopelessly incompetent staffers a crime?".  Some of the testimony implied the witnesses were either blatantly lying or incurably clueless.  


    Nope (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by Radix on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 04:42:25 PM EST
    "Is hiring hopelessly incompetent staffers a crime?".

    I refer you to the hiring of George Bush, not once but twice.


    "But not every wrong, or even every... (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:15:50 PM EST
    ...violation of the law, is a crime."

    Huh?  Isn't a violation of the law the definition of a crime?

    Another case of IOKIYAR, I guess.  

    The "negative publicity" is a crock too.  How many of these people weren't able to find new positions in think tanks, the media, lobbying firms and the like?  Wingnut welfare has made darn sure they landed on their feet.

    Not good enough (5.00 / 7) (#6)
    by ruffian on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:18:56 PM EST
    The officials most directly implicated in the misconduct left the Department to the accompaniment of substantial negative publicity.

    Not negative enough.  There was very little major media attention to what they did wrong. No public acknowledgement that they did anything wrong - not in the 'some say it was wrong for them to...' type of media we have. It takes a prosecution to make it stick.

    I can't say I'm surprised, but I am disgusted.

    Disgusting (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by mmc9431 on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:27:26 PM EST
    I can't imagine anyone being surprised at this. There hasn't been any accountability on any of their crimes and unfortunately there never will be. What a legacy we're leaving! It would be great to have a time machine and see exactly what historians will say about our handling of this.

    Indeed, they'll never be held accountable. (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Maria Garcia on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:35:29 PM EST
    If it weren't for the sheer doggedness of Patrick Fitzgerald even Scooter Libby would be reporting for work at Cheney's office to this day. But that's about as far as it will go.

    But wasn't Mukasey... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by TomStewart on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:32:06 PM EST
    hired to make sure that no one from the Bush administration ever faces any accountability? Seems like he's just doing his job.

    Mukasey is doing what he's been hired to do. (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by VicfromOregon on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:32:12 PM EST
    Shine the shinola.  Make sure nobody important goes to jail. That he believes he's doing it for the welfare of the country places him half a step above a mob lawyer.  Given who this Administration has employed over the past 8 years, Mukasey's transparency could be considered almost forthright.

    Sarah Taylor got a job on TV as (5.00 / 4) (#13)
    by inclusiveheart on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:37:52 PM EST
    a political pundit.  

    Now that's what I call justice!

    Thanks again Schumer... (5.00 / 4) (#14)
    by desertswine on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:45:37 PM EST
    "The best we can expect is somebody who will depoliticize the Justice Department and put rule of law first, even when pressured by some of the administration. If Mukasey is that type of person, I'll support him."

    I'll second that on Schumer (5.00 / 8) (#16)
    by DaytonDem on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:50:40 PM EST
    and all the other supposed Democrats who keep being so unbelievably gullible at these confirmation hearings.

    I am sure that there are a lot of folks out there (5.00 / 5) (#15)
    by DemForever on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 03:46:37 PM EST
    who have committed crimes that would like to get off with nothing more than some bad publicity and harsh language.

    Mukasey, another example of no one leaving BushCo (5.00 / 2) (#21)
    by jawbone on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 04:39:06 PM EST
    with the same high regard he or she came in with.

    Mukasey is just another cog in the BushCo machine, and his reputation is being ground to bits.

    So sad. So sad and ugly. He will be a miserable little footnote in all the mendacity and criminality of this Maladministration.

    This is good news for crooks everywhere. (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by lentinel on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 05:08:45 PM EST
    Let's rob a bank.
    Remember, "not every violation of the law is a crime".
    That's our attorney general speaking.

    And - if you happen to get caught...
    The punishment - "negative publicity!"

    Tough - but I think I could cope with it.

    A special tip of the hat to Chuck Schumer for his enthusiastic and timely support of this fun-loving guy.

    Is anyone really surprised that this (5.00 / 4) (#26)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 05:17:59 PM EST
    is Mukasey's take on things?  Cheney loved him - and that's all I needed to know to be sure that he wasn't being put into place to clean anything up, unless you consider getting rid of the fingerprints of the Bush administration your idea of the mission of the Justice Department and the Attorney General of the United States.

    I really hate even thinking about this whole thing - it was yet another example of the Democrats caving in to nonexistent pressure and accepting a nominee that even my dogs and the 2 cats and maybe even the freakin' goldfish knew was only going to guard the castle gates against any and all incursions into Bush territory.

    What makes it even worse is the reaction - all the way from "ho-hum" to...[crickets].  This nation has become so numb to the gross violations of this administration that no one seems to care anymore.

    Enough to make a person weep.

    Not just Cheney... (5.00 / 1) (#31)
    by lentinel on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 06:09:16 PM EST
    "Is anyone really surprised that this is Mukasey's take on things?  Cheney loved him."

    Let's not forget Charles (Chuck) Schumer who was practically weeping with intoxicated joy at the thought of putting this hack in the Attorney General's chair.

    As you point out, without dems like this, freaks like Mukasey would be out in the streets doing 3 card monte exhibitions.


    This Is Not A Victimless Crime. (5.00 / 4) (#27)
    by Walrus on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 05:24:37 PM EST
    This Is Not a Victimless Crime. Neither is the Plame scandal.

    The victims are the American people because what is happening is that trust is being destroyed, and when that happens it becomes more difficult to deliver good Government.

    As Francis Fukuyama famously wrote, trust and cooperation have a huge value because the cost of dealing with people you cannot totally trust is not zero. We pay lawyers vast amounts of money to try and protect ourselves from potential dishonesty, whereas once deals were done at no cost on a simple handshake.

    So what trust has been destroyed? Trust that the laws will be administered impartially. Trust that doing things according to law will not be punished. Trust that doing things that are illegal will be punished. Trust that courts will be impartial and judge each case according to its merits. Trust that penalties shall fit the crimes.

    That's all it is folks, trust, and without it the downward spiral of America will not only continue, it will accelerate, because people will stop trusting, and change their behaviour accordingly, to the overall detriment of everyone. Fukuyama's book is worth a read.

    It would be easy... (5.00 / 2) (#28)
    by pie on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 05:26:46 PM EST
    This nation has become so numb to the gross violations of this administration that no one seems to care anymore.

    to get people riled.  I tend to think that everyone is on a slow simmer.  Most just want Bush and Cheney gone, however.

    I'll be more interested to see what happens to Bush.

    Oblivion is too easy.

    Well, if there is ever to be anger (5.00 / 3) (#29)
    by Anne on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 05:32:55 PM EST
    commensurate with what has been perpetrated upon this country, and some real impetus for accountability and consequences that rise to a level higher than just the public humilation that Mukasey seems to think is sufficient, we might need to get the media off their stupid infotainment stories and back to real reporting about real issues - and I don't see that happening anytime soon.

    The people who helped sell us 8 years of Bush and a needless war in Iraq are not going to go along, and the Dems just seem content to whimper and waffle along, with no real appetite for doing what needs to be done to set things back on the right track.

    It makes me wonder just how much will ever be enough to wake people up.


    I wonder if the DC Bar or relevant bar (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by Joelarama on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 05:38:19 PM EST
    have commenced proceedings against Goodling, Schlozman (sp) et al.

    These sound like grounds for permanent disbarrment.

    You're a member of the DC bar (none / 0) (#32)
    by SoCalLiberal on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 06:26:00 PM EST
    Who could bring up a complaint against him?

    Btw ot, I checked and UDC is now a fully accredited law school.


    Don't prosecute them. Impeach them. (5.00 / 0) (#33)
    by RonK Seattle on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 06:34:09 PM EST
    This is just the kind of high crime the impeachment power was designed for.

    Am I shocked? Hell no S.O.P. and (none / 0) (#18)
    by PssttCmere08 on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 04:07:21 PM EST
    S.O.S. where Bushco is concerned.

    Has Abu Gonzales (none / 0) (#23)
    by pie on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 05:07:27 PM EST
    found a new job yet?

    Well, some of them, like the pure as the driven snow Monica Goodling, could always be hired by Regent University to teach its special kind of law.

    honest services? (none / 0) (#34)
    by txpublicdefender on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 08:03:26 PM EST
    It cracks me up to read a federal prosecutor saying that these violations of the law were not a crime, just a violation of civil service laws.  Don't the feds prosecute state and local government employees all the time for "honest services" fraud when they intentionally violate government regulations in their employment?  It's such a mushy, vague concept that it can end up turning almost any type of "civil violation" into a federal offense.  

    I would like someone to institute disciplinary proceedings against Goodling and some of the others who blatantly violated the civil service laws with impunity and then either refused to cooperate with the investigation or lied about their conduct.

    Goodling was chosen (none / 0) (#35)
    by weltec2 on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 08:26:03 PM EST
    for her position because she was new and inexperienced and -- I'm guessing here -- easily manipulated by AG Gonzales. She was intentionally put in way over her head by those who wanted to use her. I just hope the young woman has learned a serious lesson and can pick up the pieces of her life and move on. Gonzales should be hung by the heels and cooked over a slow flame. -:

    WOW ally ally all in free (none / 0) (#36)
    by downtownted on Tue Aug 12, 2008 at 08:45:20 PM EST
    I think I have a post or 2 on Republicans know they can get away with any political crime because Democrats as wimps and wooses who won't follow-up and prosecute for crimes against our wonderful country. Anytime they (the Dems) get cojones and prove me wrong let me know LOUD and CLEAR. I doubt I will hear from any on this

    C'est fini. (none / 0) (#37)
    by lizpolaris on Wed Aug 13, 2008 at 08:22:07 AM EST
    "But not every wrong, or even every violation of the law, is a crime." -- AG Michael Mukasey

    Well, it's finally been stated out in the open.  The United States' experiment in democracy is over.  Dead.  We are no longer a nation of laws.  Only the supreme emperor of the land and his minions such as the attorney general can determine what is a crime and what is not.  Violating the law may or may not be a crime, depending on your fame, how rich you are, your political connections...  Conversely, you may be guilty of a crime even if you have not violated the law if we want to declare you a threat based on secret evidence the government doesn't have to produce...

    Hello banana republic.