Lawmaker News

Cover-up Gets You in the End

“Show trials. Fishing expeditions. Executive privilege. Political witch hunt.” Oh boy, we have heard it all before.

Let’s cut through all this rhetorical presidential anger and get to the heart of the matter. Bush and his palace guard (“loyal Bushies”) have done it again. They put their damage-control machine into high gear and decided that they can cover it all up, sweep it under the rug, and no one will notice.

It worked for six years on everything from the Libby/Plame fiasco to funding the war in Iraq through supplementals because there was no congressional oversight. It won’t work any more.

A Curious Line in the Sand

The Democrats are drawing the line in the sand at a pretty curious place. Instead of putting all of their efforts into coming up with a coherent strategy on Iraq, or passing legislation that matters to the Democratic base, they are picking their big fight over the attorney general’s firing of seven U.S. attorneys.

Some facts that everybody knows but that bear repeating:

  1. The president can fire any of these U.S. attorneys for any reason. They serve at the pleasure of the president. They don’t have a vast bureaucracy with lots of rules to protect them. If the president doesn’t like the color of their socks or if he doesn’t like their prosecutorial pedigree or for any other reason, he can fire them. That is one of the truly great things about being president. You can do that kind of thing.

  2. Bill Clinton fired all of the U.S. attorneys when he came into office, including the U.S. attorney who was investigating the president’s Whitewater real estate transaction.

  3. Nobody cares about this outside the Beltway.


I Smell a Rat

To: Dr. Watson
From: Holmes

Watson, I smell a rat. I want you to devote your investigative resources to uncover the rat. Here is what we know:

1. A well-qualified U.S. attorney in Arkansas was fired under suspicious circumstances.

2. Arkansas is the former residence of one Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has already been subject to unsavory attacks from right-wing conspiracies, vast and otherwise.

3. The well-qualified fired U.S. attorney was replaced by one Timothy Griffin. Mr. Griffin is a former aide to Karl Rove, the King of oppo research and smears. Karl took an aggressive personal interest in his hiring as U.S. attorney.

DeLay Strikes Back

That gnawing emptiness I have struggled with for so long was really starting  to sap my soul. But now I know it was just my Tom DeLay deficiency. Thank goodness he's back.

After leaving Congress under an ethical cloud last year, DeLay (R-Texas) hit the talk show circuit and was so magnanimous he practically sounded like he was trying out for the role of GOP elder statesman. He said he could do more from the outside and would continue working on behalf of the principles he and so many social conservatives hold dear. But it hasn't taken long for The Hammer to come out swinging once more. In his new book, No Retreat, No Surrender, DeLay bashes former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) as "an ineffective speaker of the House," a description even Gingrich's enemies would likely dispute. DeLay takes a whack at President Bush in his book — no surprise there, since the only challenge these days is to find people NOT criticizing Bush. But the real shocker is that DeLay couldn't spare poor Rep. J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), the man DeLay pressured into the job of Speaker in 1998. "I consider George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Denny Hastert all to be good men," DeLay reportedly writes, "but there is not an articulate voice among them.

It's hard to guess what DeLay's five-year plan is. I just hope the book does well and he soon hits the tour. There's no telling what could pour forth with friendly crowds at book signings.

The Biggest Scandal That Never Was

The coverage on cable news has been sensational for a scandal that doesn’t exist. “Karl Rove at the heart of expanding U.S. Attorney Scandal,” screamed a headline just moments ago. I’m loath to write about this again this week, but things have really gotten out of hand on the air, the newspapers and the Internet.

Let me state this as clearly as I can: U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president and are appointed to a four-year term. At any point and for any reason during the term of the U.S. attorney, the president of the United States can decide that the pleasure has ended and set the individual free.

The Little District that Wanted to Be a City-State

Well, D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and her cohorts are at it once again, trying to rewrite our Constitution by sending a bill to the floor of the House, which if passed would grant the District of Columbia its first full-fledged seat. The entire House of Representatives will vote next week on this legislation and the Democratic leadership vows to use its majority status to ensure that it passes. There is no doubt in my mind that they will succeed in passing the legislation in the House, only for it to be sent for a full Senate vote, where it will fall flat on its face. The Democrats' victory in the House will be symbolic at best. Many legal scholars as well as members of the Senate vehemently oppose the bill on constitutional grounds.

The Constitution clearly states that House members shall come from states. When last I checked, D.C. was still a “Federal Enclave” and not a “State.” The justification against statehood for the District is explained by our nation's fourth president, James Madison, in the Federalist Papers, a group of essays written in the late 1700s that immediately became the single most important interpretation of the Constitution, and remains so among contemporary jurists and scholars. In Federalist No. 43, it is noted that the federal government needs to ensure a level of stability in order to perform those duties that could not be guaranteed by reliance upon any state. The necessity of this provision is borne out by the riots outside the Pennsylvania hall that Congress met in before the District was established. The District was established for the very purpose of ensuring that Congress could not be held hostage by the impositions of any state ever again. Any organization such as Congress has a reasonable expectation that it controls the rules governing how it conducts its business.

Resign, Resign, Resign!!

The Vice President needs to go. Karl Rove -- pack up. Attorney General Gonzales -- hit the exit, please. What in the world is going on at the Capitol end of Pennsylvania Avenue? To listen to Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) these days, you’d think the entire White House and executive branch has let the American people down in one way or another. Somebody, please change the skipping needle on the record player.

Today’s episode finds the senior senator from New York asking for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. His alleged crime? The dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys from around the country. Now mind you, all 94 U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States. Having served at the pleasure myself while at the White House, that means that the president can decide to let you go for any reason or no reason at all. Period, end of story.

Pardonwatch '07: Three Options for the President

The president has three choices on the pardon of Scooter Libby. He can pardon him now, get it over with and take the political flak. (And save the Libby donors to his legal defense fund millions for additional appeals.) Second, he can wait until all the appeals are over, presumably after the 2008 elections, and lump Libby in with his other pardons. This would save the 2008 Republican presidential candidates a heck of a lot of grief. The third option, of course, is to let the legal process take its course and not pardon him at all.

Rove, Domenici and Wilson

The story of seven U.S. attorneys being fired abruptly and together failed to register with Official Washington when it happened on Dec. 7. Minds were focused on critical power shifts taking place — in Congress, where Democrats took over after 12 years of GOP rule, and at the Pentagon, where Robert Gates got to pick up the pieces, and the war in Iraq, from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

But the latest in what is now a huge story is an acknowledgment yesterday from the White House that President Bush's top adviser — yes, that would be Karl Rove — has played a role.