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Alberto Gonzales' New Gig

There's an interview with former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in tomorrow's New York Times Magazine.

He has finally landed a new job. He'll be teaching at Texas Tech University. Among his courses will be one in political science, "Contemporary Issues in the Executive Branch."
Among his other disclosures:

  • No company or law firm has offered him a job since he resigned
  • He hasn't spoken to former President G.W. Bush since Bush left office.
  • He has substantial legal bills (and people are raising money for them, but he hasn't asked Bush or Cheney for help
  • He's writing a book on his time in office but has no publisher yet.

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Indictments Dismissed Against Cheney and Gonzales

You knew it had to be too good to be true. It was.

The Texas indictments against Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales have been dismissed.

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Waas: Alberto Gonzales Turns on Bush

Murray Waas has a new article in the Atlantic on the infamous Ashcroft hospital visit during which the ailing Ashcroft was pressured to sign off on Bush's warrantless electronic surveillance plan. Murray says:

"According to people familiar with statements recently made by Gonzales to federal investigators, Gonzales is now saying that George Bush personally directed him to make that hospital visit. "

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Ex-AG Alberto Gonzales Paid $40k for First Speech

What's the going speaker's rate for a disgraced Bush Administration official? For former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, his talk at the University of Florida yesterday cost the school $40,000.

It probably made the boos and jeers easier to swallow:

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales endured screams of "criminal" and "liar" during a speech at the University of Florida on Monday evening.....Early in his speech, two people climbed on the stage in hoods. Gonzales stopped talking for a few minutes as police led them away without incident, though there were several outbursts from the crowd.

The hooded demonstrators were charged with interruption of a public event, said Steve Orlando, a university spokesman. Several other people were ejected for yelling, and more than a dozen people stood for most of Gonzales' hour-long speech with their backs toward him.

Gonzales must really be hurting for legal fees.

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Alberto Gonzales' Legal and Financial Woes Mount

Friends of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales have started a trust fund to collect money for his legal fees. They say as a career service employee, he doesn't have the funds to pay his mounting legal fees himself for the ongoing investigating into whether he lied to Congress or obstructed justice about the U.S. Attorney firings.

Jason at Truthout has a new article today on the evidence collected against Gonzales by the fired AUSA's.

If the DOJ's inspector general investigation concludes further investigation into possible federal crimes is warranted and refers the case to the US attorney's office for the District of Columbia to probe the matter, McKay said a special prosecutor should be appointed instead because the US attorney in DC is Gonzales's former chief of staff.

Here's more on Jeffrey Taylor, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

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Fired U.S. Attorney Says Gonzales May Be Referred for Prosecution

Fired Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay spoke at a bar association meeting Friday and said he thinks it's quite possible the Inspector General conducting the probe of the U.S. attorney firings will refer Alberto Gonzales and others for criminal prosecution, possibly as early as next month.

McKay said he was summoned to Washington, D.C., in June and questioned for eight hours about possible reasons for his firing by investigators with the Office of Inspector General, who will forward their final report to Congress.

“My best guess is it will be released sometime next month,’’ and likely will include recommendations for criminal prosecutions of Gonzales and maybe others, McKay said.

McKay believes the principal reason he was fired was for not opening a voter fraud investigation into Gov. Chris Gregoire’s marginal victory over Republican Dino Rossi in 2004.

He noted the White House was unhappy with San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam's conduct regarding Randy "Duke" Cunningham and with New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Yglesia's refusal to indict a Democratic candidate right before the November election.

McKay says Gonazles lied to Congress about the reasons for the firings.

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Waas on Gonzales and the NSA Probes

Murray Waas has a new article at HuffPo about Alberto Gonzales receiving information about subordinates at the Justice Department during the NSA leak probe and its impropriety, given that he himself was a subject of the various probes and these same employees might be called to testify against him.

Senior federal law enforcement privately question the propriety of Gonzales receiving such sensitive information about subordinates being scrutinized in one inquiry when those same individuals were likely to be witnesses about alleged misconduct by Gonzales for the other investigations.

This is a long article that covers a lot of ground, I recommend reading all of it.

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Alberto Gonzales Lawyers Up

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has lawyered up. His lawyer is George Terwilliger, one of the top contenders named as a replacement for Gonzales. Terwilliger provided legal advice to Bush in the 2000 election recount case and served as Deputy AG under Bush I.

Newsweek reports Gonzales' chief concern is DOJ Inspector General Glenn Fine's investigation into the U.S. Attorney firings, the Ashcroft hospital visit over the NSA warrantless wiretapping program and whether Gonzales lied to Congress in his testimony about either or both.

One former administration official close to Gonzales’s team (who, like others interviewed for this story, requested anonymity in talking about an ongoing probe) said the former attorney general is concerned that Fine may end up making a criminal referral to the Public Integrity Section of the Justice Department—or even seek the appointment of a special counsel to determine if Gonzales made false statements to Congress.

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The Time to Say "No" to Ted Olson is Now


(Photo by Reuters)

Today is Alberto Gonzales' last day as Attorney General of the United States.

Who will replace him? Joe Conasen at Salon wonders whether Bush would dare to nominate Ted Olson. Reporter Matt Cooper, who hired Olson for his Supreme Court appeal in PlameGate, praises Olson.

Peter G. points out in the comments here, the valid reasons for not appointing Ted Olson are not his politics, but any lapses in his integrity, principles and competence. Criticism should be leveled at him for his own actions, opinions and choices rather than our opinion of his clients.

In my view, this is fair game:

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White House Floats AG Replacement Names

Roll Call reports that White House Counsel Fred Fielding is floating a bunch of names to Senators for the replacement of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales:

White House counsel Fred Fielding has been making the rounds in the Senate the past several days and met with Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Wednesday afternoon. Although Leahy would not comment on the meeting prior to speaking with Fielding, he did say that Bush's top legal adviser has reached out to numerous Judiciary Committee Senators to vet names and gauge feedback over possible nominees.

Aides in both parties say there are six names:

Former Solicitor General Ted Olson; former Attorney General Bill Barr; former Deputy Attorney General George Terwilliger; D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Laurence Silberman; former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson; and Michael Mukasey, a former judge on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Larry Thompson has said he doesn't want the job, he's happy at Pepsico. As to the others:

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The Politics of Prosecution

Federal Times is a publication geared to federal executives and managers. It has an interesting article this week on Gonzales' resignation and the politicization of the U.S. Attorney's offices under Republican reign.

A February study by professors at the University of Missouri at St. Louis and Illinois State University found that since President Bush took office, U.S. attorneys have investigated or indicted four times as many elected Democratic officials as Republicans.

Joseph Rich, who was chief of the voting section in Justice’s Civil Rights Division from 1999 to 2005, published a column in the Los Angeles Times in March that said his office had been politicized. He said his superiors told him to alter performance evaluations to favor attorneys who supported the administration and punish those who disagreed with the White House.

Rich said that no voting discrimination cases were brought on behalf of black or Native American voters between 2001 and 2006 and that his office was ordered to focus on voting fraud cases instead. This crushed morale in his section, Rich said, and drove more than half of the voting office’s attorneys to go to other offices or leave the department since 2005.

The list of departing DOJ officials so far:

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Inspector General is Investigating Alberto Gonzales

Inspector General Glenn Fine has responded by letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy and informed him that his office is investigating whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was truthful during his Senate testimony about the firing of U.S. Attorneys, the warrantless surveillance program and other issues.

Senator Leahy has issued this response:

"I am pleased that Department of Justice Inspector General Glenn Fine will look into my concerns about potentially false, misleading or inappropriate testimony by the Attorney General. I look forward to the Inspector General's findings on the unprecedented firings of nine United States Attorneys, the improper political hiring of career officials within the Justice Department, the misuse of National Security Letters, and the efforts to bypass the Department's finding that a warrantless surveillance program was without legal basis.

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Summing Up Alberto Gonzales' Official Misconduct

In its Tuesday editorial, the New York Times does a good job of summing up in two paragraphs what Alberto Gonzales did wrong as Attorney General:

[H]e did not stand up for the Constitution and the rule of law, as an attorney general must. This administration has illegally spied on Americans, detained suspects indefinitely as “enemy combatants,” run roughshod over the Geneva Conventions, violated the Hatch Act prohibitions on injecting politics into government and defied Congressional subpoenas. In each case, Mr. Gonzales gave every indication of being on the side of the lawbreakers, not the law.

Mr. Gonzales signed off on the administration’s repugnant, and disastrous, torture policy when he was the White House counsel. He later helped stampede Congress into passing the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which endorsed illegal C.I.A. prisons where detainees may be tortured and established kangaroo courts in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to keep detained foreigners in custody essentially for life. He helped cover up and perpetuate Mr. Bush’s illegal wiretapping programs, both in the counsel’s job and as attorney general. The F.B.I. under his stewardship abused powers it was given after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the name of enhanced national security.

In other words, Goodbye and good riddance.

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A Recess Appointment to Replace Gonzales?


Bush wouldn't dare, right? Josh Marshall says don't be surprised if Bush uses a recess appointment to name the next Attorney General, bypassing the need for Senate confirmation.

My take: Of course he would. What's he got to lose? He's already a lame duck. The Republicans didn't stand up for Gonzales, why should Bush care whether they catch flak over a recess appointment when 2008 comes around?

All this talk by Schumer and others about appointing a non-political Attorney General who will uphold the rule of law, as I said earlier, is just more verbiage. It sounds good but it will never happen so long as Bush is in office.

One of the perks of being President is getting to name your cabinet members. Bush isn't going to let anyone stand in his way. He might sound the Dems out on his replacement pick, but if they say no, I think he'll just go ahead by way of recess appointment. He hasn't cared what the Dems think about anything else, why would he start now?

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Keeping Some Perspective on Gonzales' Resignation


As I head off to the jail to see two federal clients in pre-trial detention whose cases won't be affected one whit by Gonzales' resignation, I thought I'd reprint what I wrote in April:

What will change with Gonzales gone? Bush will appoint another one of his loyal faves to replace him. The war on drugs, war on civil liberties and trend towards draconian sentences will continue. Say what you want about Gonzales, he's nowhere near the threat to constitutional rights that John Ashcroft was. He's continued Ashcroft's policies, but he seems to be more of a follower than a take-charge innovator of new ways to deprive people of their freedom.

As for the fired U.S. Attorneys, they all got the job in the first place because they had connections ... either to their state's Senators or to someone in the Bush Administration. None of them got the job because they were the most skilled litigators in their respective jurisdictions. Once installed in the top position, they all put people in jail, including non-violent drug offenders. They're prosecutors, that's what they do.

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