Sen. Feinstein seizes on DoJ documents

Justice Department performance evaluations released to senators over the weekend further validate concerns that six dismissed U.S. attorneys were asked to resign for political purposes, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said yesterday.

Feinstein forwarded the six evaluations to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) along with a letter urging floor time for her bill, which would reverse a statutory change last year that allows the Bush administration to indefinitely install federal prosecutors without seeking Senate confirmation.

Several of the fired attorneys were involved in political corruption probes in the months before their departures were sought by Justice, including San Diego’s Carol Lam, who secured three indictments in the investigation of former GOP Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (Calif.). Judiciary Committee Democrats had vowed to subpoena the performance evaluations if the administration did not furnish copies, but the reports only heightened Feinstein’s skepticism about Justice’s explanation that the dismissed attorneys had performance problems.

“Indeed, contrary to the department’s rationalizations to explain their dismissals, in every case the fired U.S. attorney was judged to have a strategic plan and appropriate priorities to meet the needs of the Department and their districts,” Feinstein wrote in yesterday’s letter, reminding leaders of her bill, which is cosponsored by Judiciary ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.).