Mukasey Appoints Special Prosecutor in U.S. Attorney Firing Probe

The Inspector General's blistering 392 page report on the Bush Administration's firing of 9 U.S. Attorneys has been released. You can read it here (pdf.)

Attorney General Michael Mukasey announced he will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and decide if criminal charges should be brought against former AG Alberto Gonzales.

“The report makes plain that, at a minimum, the process by which nine U.S. attorneys were removed in 2006 was haphazard, arbitrary and unprofessional, and the way in which the Justice Department handled those removals and the resulting public controversy was profoundly lacking,” Mr. Mukasey said in a statement. The report called for further investigation to determine whether prosecutable offenses were committed either in the firings or in subsequent testimony about them.


The special prosecutor will be Nora Dannehy, acting United States Attorney in Connecticut. The report places primary blame for the mishandling of the firings on Gonzales and his deputy Paul McNulty. Also bearing a large share of the blame: Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' former Chief of Staff.

The firings were “unsystematic and arbitrary, with little oversight by the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, or any other senior Department official,” the report continues. Improperly, the nine U.S. attorneys were not given an opportunity to address concerns about their performance, nor were they given the reasons for their removal.

In addition, Mr. Gonzales, Mr. McNulty, Mr. Sampson, and other officials failed “to provide accurate and truthful statements about the removals and their role in the process,” the report states.

Why the need for a special prosecutor? This might have something to do with it:

The report’s lead authors — Glenn A. Fine, the department’s inspector general, and H. Marshall Jarrett, the counsel for the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility — wrote that their investigation remains incomplete because of the refusal of certain key witnesses to be interviewed, including Karl Rove, the president’s former chief political adviser; Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel; Monica Goodling, the department’s former White House liaison; Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico; and Mr. Domenici’s chief of staff, Steven Bell.

In addition, they wrote, “the White House would not provide us with internal documents related to the removals of the U.S. attorneys.”

The firing of New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, appears key to the new probe:

The report states that the most serious investigation that the inspector general was not able to fully investigate relates to the removal of Mr. Iglesias. It singles out his firing as a key reason why a counsel should be appointed to “conduct further investigation, and ultimately determine whether the evidence demonstrates that any criminal offense was committed.”

Mukasey's statement is here.

Update: It appears to me Mukasey is appointing Dannehy as a special counsel, like Patrick Fitzgerald in PlameGate. These are the Justice Department Regulations that authorized the appointment of a special counsel. That's just my guess though.

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  • Display: Sort:
    TPM argues (none / 0) (#1)
    by Steve M on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 01:43:32 PM EST
    that Dannehy is not really a "special prosecutor" under the legal definition.

    Hooray! (none / 0) (#2)
    by ruffian on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 01:48:00 PM EST
    That is excellent news.

    Jeralyn, do you know anything about the person (none / 0) (#3)
    by jawbone on Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 05:54:25 PM EST
    appointed to this?

    I hope she has the independence to handle this. Can't be easy, especially when Mukasey wouldn't back the other investigators.