April 26, 2007

More Questions About The Charlton Firing

The firing of US Attorney Paul Charlton in Arizona took a dark twist yesterday from the fallout of the Department of Justice investigation of Rep. Rick Renzi. Alberto Gonzales told Congress that he had fired Charlton over a policy dispute over the FBI's general refusal to tape interrogations. However, six weeks before his termination, Renzi's office contacted Charlton to inquire whether Charlton was investigating the Republican Congressman:

The top aide to Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) called the office of Arizona's U.S. attorney about six weeks before the prosecutor was fired, inquiring about a federal probe into the congressman's role in a land deal that benefited a former business partner and political patron.

The former U.S. attorney, Paul K. Charlton, told House investigators this week that his office alerted the Justice Department's headquarters about the call from Renzi's chief of staff, Brian Murray, because he considered it potentially improper, according to congressional sources who spoke about the probe on the condition of anonymity. Justice rules require prosecutors to report contacts from members of Congress seeking information about investigations.

The incident means that Charlton was the third of eight U.S. attorneys forced to resign last year who had reported to Justice officials that Republican members of Congress or their staffs made inappropriate overtures to their offices about politically sensitive investigations they were supervising. ...

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has been leading the Senate Judiciary Committee probe of the dismissals, fired off a letter yesterday to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, saying the Renzi case raises "new and serious questions about whether improper political motivations were involved" in Charlton's firing.

In addition, Schumer drew attention to suggestions, first published in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, that Justice officials delayed the investigation into Renzi to help him win reelection. "I am troubled by the possibility that the practice of having U.S. attorneys coordinate with the Justice Department's Public Integrity Section in cases involving lawmakers, which is intended to be a check on politicization, may have been used in this instance for the contrary purpose of influencing a case for political reasons."

First, we should point out that Charlton's removal did not end the investigation. The FBI raided Renzi's home last week, and Renzi stepped down from his committee assignments as a result. If he corrupted his office and sold out his constituents, it does not appear that Charlton's termination has kept that from coming to light.

That being said, this makes the entire process of terminations look even more suspect. At the least, it shows political stupidity on a scale so grand as to be almost unbelievable. Who in their right mind would fire a federal prosecutor who just had improper contact from the Congressman he's investigating -- especially in the days after a Democratic takeover of Congress? That call should have alerted anyone with any sort of political antennae that firing Charlton would set off all sorts of red flags if that call came to light.

Instead, they added him to the list six weeks before they started the terminations. It reminds one of how David Iglesias made the list late in the process, just after Pete Domenici and Heather Wilson contacted Iglesias about a political=corruption investigation and then complained to the White House about the answers they received. Small wonder that Democrats and Republicans alike on the Hill have a hard time buying the ever-changing stories from Gonzales.

The worst part of this once-molehill is that more and more embarrassing details keep popping out. Just when we think we've heard it all, another scandalous tidbit rises to the surface. The White House should have acted early to end this debacle by insisting on Gonzales' resignation and canning his entire staff.


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Comments (14)

Posted by james23 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 9:28 AM

"The White House should have acted early to end this debacle by insisting on Gonzales' resignation and canning his entire staff."

My sentiments exactly.

The only question now is, how much damage will Gonzo do not only to the President but to the GOP's prospects in 08? The President has a personal loyalty to Gonzo, so perhaps his tenacity on Gonzo's behalf is understandable in that light. What I don't understand at all is the Republicans who are circling the wagons to defend Gonzo and in effect, advocating for incompetence. That will not be a winning message in 08.

Posted by richard mcenroe [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 9:37 AM

So, exactly how many of these investigations were terminated by these firings? None?

So, the plan was, fire the USA's, but leave the investigations they were heading open and active? What could the tactical or strategic thinking behind such an action remotely be?

So, how is the Mollohan investigation going?

So, how is the investigatiion of Feinstein's contracts for her hubby going?

Posted by Brooklyn [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 9:46 AM

more 'much to do about nothing'...

a poor explanation, on a subject that requires no explanation, does not make something an issue.


simply hype and smoke created by Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, etc...

the big nothing.

Posted by Immolate [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 10:26 AM

Unless almost every US Attorney has one or more on-going investigations in which Republicans are implicated, it is rather suspect that three of the eight fired belonged in that category.

I understand that the USA's serve at the pleasure and therefore whim of the President. However, that doesn't excuse him or his staff for acting unethically. I was firmly on the "much-ado-about-nothing" bandwagon until this development. I am now on the "investigate-and-take-appropriate-action" bandwagon. Perhaps I missed something obvious.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:13 AM

Bush has been coasting on some pretty strange ideas.

First, he thinks because he's president of America. And, America is the top-dog country. He can tell other leaders, in other countries, what to do.

Well, he still can't seem to get the real estate keys the Saudi's want.

True. Nobody's talking. And, included in this is the fact that Bush has no skills as making this sale with the American people.

Yett? Just like Jimmy Carter. He's put his hands onto the foreign policy levers. And, he's pressing buttons like crazy. Won't get him any farther than Jimmy Carter. Especially after the stories about how innept he really is, come spilling out of the beltway. Oh, they will come.

Now? Well, Americans have just learned Bush can fire anyone he wants! Because he's the executive. But, heck. He didn't fire fitzmas. He didn't close down the attack machinery against Libby. He's not even gonna offer Libby a pardon!

But AG Gonzales, he's making scrambled eggs in that basket. Let me tell ya!

And, if you think the donks are looking to see AG Gonzales go "with speed." You. Are. Mistaken.

In Congress,pelosi on one side, and harry reid on the other, are gonna make sure Bush IS THE NEWS, from here, to about January 20, 2009.

Want to read my lips? NO RUSH.

Please don't hurry on my account.

By the way, the name calling on the right is so immature.

What's probably more interesting, is how the GOP, once known as a moderate party of country club repubicans; somehow got turned into a revival tent.

America has had his fads with revival tents. You could read Elmer Gantry. Heck, you could even go see the Burt Lancaster movie. Bang up job. Hollywood's answer to DC, and the likes of Joe McCarthy. Written earlier. And, dedicated to the free spirit of most Americans. Who learned to look at the Bible belters as schemers. And, con artists.

You don't think so? Then, you've never read Robert Burns comic turns in his poety. Lincoln, however, had memorized most of it, solid.

Lincoln also said: I don't care what a man's religion is. I want to see how he treats his dogs.

By the way, the religious experience seems to be fading from view. It recedes, because the GOP is losing ground with the mainstream.

But the right? They haven't got the picture in focus. No new glasses for them. Everyone in the pews is using Tom DeLay's glasses. Where he went from whoring around, and drinking without notice-able effects, 12 martinis a day. To finding better footing.

I guess he could have called it 12-steps. But even the "stair master" today isn't about birthing youselves into existence; after your moms did all the hard work, at first.

Besides. Nobody should be entering politics thinking they're also prostrated out in church. Getting God's words telling them what everyone ought to do. That message has been encountering turbulance for quite some time.

OH. And, over at the supremes? Stevens wrote a dissent. And, Roberts commented by making fun of it. Not quite the skills anticipated for a chief among equals.

And, political shifts are in the winds.

Don't ask me where! All I know is that humans have nothing to do with global warming. But in today's political world, so far, there is not one single candidate that is for real.

Posted by BigD [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:14 AM

I agree with you most of the time, but your are falling into the Hack job the Democrats are pulling on this issue. Bottom line it doesn't matter why Gonzalez fired these attorneys. Everything in Washington is always about politics.

Posted by contemptofcourt [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:25 AM

BigD....it does matter why these guys were fired.

The recurring problem is that all these corruption investigations are starting to make it look like the WH (or whoever was pulling DOJ's strings) tried to fire these guys to obstruct justice, which is a no-no.

Now do I believe that? No. Not at this point. In fact, I have a hard time believing that.

But damn if the dems aren't going to be able to make a strong case out of the circumstantial evidence....Fredo forgetting everything...Monica claiming the 5th...missing documents...missing emails...DOJ scheming ideas to support the firings....

Posted by starfleet_dude [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:40 AM

Whether Gonzales stays or goes matters less and less with each passing day, as the evidence mounts about how Karl Rove was improperly influencing many federal agencies to favor Republican candidates at the polls:

Political Briefings At Agencies Disclosed
White House officials conducted 20 private briefings on Republican electoral prospects in the last midterm election for senior officials in at least 15 government agencies covered by federal restrictions on partisan political activity, a White House spokesman and other administration officials said yesterday.
The previously undisclosed briefings were part of what now appears to be a regular effort in which the White House sent senior political officials to brief top appointees in government agencies on which seats Republican candidates might win or lose, and how the election outcomes could affect the success of administration policies, the officials said.
The existence of one such briefing, at the headquarters of the General Services Administration in January, came to light last month, and the Office of Special Counsel began an investigation into whether the officials at the briefing felt coerced into steering federal activities to favor those Republican candidates cited as vulnerable.
Such coercion is prohibited under a federal law, known as the Hatch Act, meant to insulate virtually all federal workers from partisan politics. In addition to forbidding workplace pressures meant to influence an election outcome, the law bars the use of federal resources -- including office buildings, phones and computers -- for partisan purposes.
The administration maintains that the previously undisclosed meetings were appropriate. Those discussing the briefings on the record yesterday uniformly described them as merely "informational briefings about the political landscape." But House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), who has been investigating the GSA briefing, said, "Politicization of departments and agencies is a serious issue. We need to know more about these and other briefings."
In the GSA briefing -- conducted like all the others by a deputy to chief White House political adviser Karl Rove -- two slides were presented showing 20 House Democrats targeted for defeat and several dozen vulnerable Republicans.
At its completion, GSA Administrator Lurita Alexis Doan asked how GSA projects could be used to help "our candidates," according to half a dozen witnesses. The briefer, J. Scott Jennings, said that topic should be discussed "off-line," the witnesses said. Doan then replied, "Oh, good, at least as long as we are going to follow up," according to an account given by former GSA chief acquisition officer Emily Murphy to House investigators, according to a copy of the transcript. ...

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:54 AM

A word, instead, about Guiliani's management skills.

Again, having lived in New York City at one time, I'm deeply respectful of the mayors who gained national recognition for COMPETENCE. And, yes. There were a few.

Guiliani got into office on his second try. At first? He was defeated by a black man: DINKINS. You'd expect that. Ed Koch, a Jew. Left office. And, the two men to choose between were: Dinkins, for the democrats. And, Guiliani, for the GOP.

You might think GOP candidates didn't ever make it in. That's not true. Lindsey, a very handsome man, was a shoo-in republican. But not much of a mark got left.

When Guiliani decided he still wanted to be mayor; he spent the four Dinkins years, PREPARING. He got to run, again. While over Dinkins 4 years, the Big Apple suffered.

Guiliani's greatest gift; separate from the fact that he loves the interactions with the press. SO HE PUT A FACE ON THE MAYOR'S OFFICE. Is that he hired the most competent people to run the city's agencies. HE WAS PREPARED. The day he won his election, those binders were opened. And, all those plans were met with military precision.

And, NO GOOFING AROUND, or GOOF BALLS were allowed.

To make the City OPEN to scrutiny; The Mayor held a meeting each week. 7:00 AM. Gracie Mansion. And, his ass was in the chair's seat ON TIME. So you couldn't drag yourself in, after a night of partying. Nor could you avoid showing up.

Some "meetings" are like that. It costs you your job to avoid them. Or show up late.

What happened next is that the meetings always discussed, round-table fashion, each agency head's problems and dilemmas. As Guiliani describes management in his book. He points out if you hire top talent. And, they're forced to come to the table each week, where among peers, they air their woes. You get lots of brains, working together, solving problems. One, by one.

Of course, everyone knows the "broken windows" solution. That was one problem solved.

Many know about the squeegee men. Who terrorized motorists; especially at one spot. The entrance way to the Lincoln Tunnel. Where cars come together, and forced ddrivers through a funnel.

Every time the light changed, the squeegee ran towards the cars. Spit on windshields. And, were so threatenting to drivers, that they made oodles of money with this "terror."

At first, the police arrested these guys. And, hauled them off to jail. BUT THE ACLU came to their rescue. And, it was decided the police-work was too heavy handed.

At one of those Gracie Mansion meetings, a head of another department suggested JAY WALKING TICKETS. Seems stupid.

But the cops were there, anyway.

The squeegee men were DEFIANT by now!

And, the cops then arrested them when the lights changed. And, they ran to cars, NOT USING THE CROSSWALKS.

At one time, Guiliani thought there were hundreds of squeegee men. Turns out not to be true. I doubt there were even two dozen. But just enough to lead to chaos. Just enough to make traffic worse. And, just enough to give anyone driving out of Manhattan, knip-shit fits.

Again. Bush is showing you that his idea of "management" is relegated to the few people who have been hanging on to his ass for ages. Loyalists through butt kissing. And, part of an entourage.

Actors have them.

People in the limelight get them.

But these are not talented people! Heck, at one time, they'd hang around backstage. Just to get a glimpse of a star. And, an autograph.

Competency COUNTS.

Bush doesn't have it. Never did.

That he's take a part of the GOP with him down the toilet? YES. Those who picked him on the right. Thinking he'd be easy to manipulate; have, or should have made, a few discoveries.

There's a reason people jump off bandwagons.

There's a reason Tony Blair is not a friend.

There's a reason Maliki in Iraq has run into terrible problems; including the terror FUNDED by the Saudis, without stop.

Okay. Lincoln pointed this out. But it bears repeating: YOU JUST CAN'T FOOL ALL OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME.

And, some of those who were fooled? You think I'm the only one whose angry, now?

Posted by docjim505 [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 11:56 AM

The incident means that Charlton was the third of eight U.S. attorneys forced to resign last year who had reported to Justice officials that Republican members of Congress or their staffs made inappropriate overtures to their offices about politically sensitive investigations they were supervising.

This is a very serious situation, and, if the implication turns out to be true, would seem to me to warrant prison time for the people involved. Too bad I don't trust Leaky, Trashcan Chuckie, The Swimmer or any of the other Benedict Arnolds in Congress to get to the bottom of it. Or, more precisely, they could claim that they had conclusive evidence that Gonzales fired the prosecutors on direct orders from Rove and I would have a VERY hard time believing them. The problem with setting a thief to catch a thief is... you don't trust either one of them.

Leaky and the filthy dems in the Congress have long since sacrificed whatever credibility they might have had with me. By turning the Gonzales / US attorneys flap into a partisan witchhunt, they've tainted the process. I think Gonzales should have resigned or been fired before now, but I'm damned if I'll support action against him on the word of democrat scum.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 12:14 PM

Oh, I see. By "majority rule" the right's gonna name call it's way out of this one, RIIGHT.

Won't work.

But when has that ever been a problem for playground antics to graduate up the ladder, to the mainstream?

Well, go ahead. Spit in the ocean. See how far it gets ya.

Actually, it just adds to your troubles.

Not a leak. Not a trash can. Just the boob in the White House being himself.

Maybe, what's most surprising to me, is how the congressional donks are handling the line. As they capture the "big kahuna." (Still just a dumb big fish, if you want my opinion.)

But to get him into the boat, sometimes you relax the line. And, at other times, as the fish thinks he's swimming away; you PULL.

Never had to go this far!

But Bush doesn't listen.

Tom DeLay says the dad didn't listen, either.

What? Huh?

Well, back in 1992, it was the older Bush who thought he could say "read my lips" ... and then think he was talking about his rear end, as he squeezed his cheeks together. The dad never, ever got the reason he lost in 1992.

He wins in 1988, using dirty political tricks.

And, then? He must'a become a virgin. Because when 1992 arrives, he gets confused. And, thought he was gonna win on "automatic pilot."

Good way to lose altitude.

Bush, now, doesn't even think he's in a nose-dive, either.

And, the right, as can be expected, has a lot of people who aren't even listening. They're going into overdrive about "leaky" and "trash can." As if most people are treating what's happening in politics as if it's a cartoon.

On the other hand? My complliments to Captain Ed. I'm not the only voice here raising doubts.

And, that's one way to see it's not all gonna be crazy-name-calling, either.

Bush has given the GOP a self-inflicted wound.

What did he use? Arrogance.

Perhaps you thought you couldn't wound with that, huh?

Or that you'd get away with it all, because what do you see in the leadership apparatus, "over there?"

Well, it's like hitler laughing at Americans; calling us all cowards. Before we hit him back. HARD.

Posted by wtanksleyjr [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 2:34 PM

"So, exactly how many of these investigations were terminated by these firings? None?"

Correct. Of course.

But you miss the point. It's looking to me -- and I'm a Republican, and am still a Bush supporter -- like the purpose of at least some of these firings was to enforce a policy that required the prosecution of Democrats and forbade the prosecution of Republicans, per se.

That's pretty horrific.

Now, I can think of a nicer explanation. I can suspect that the firings were instigated for a good purpose (enforcing legitimate policies, for example), but someone in the process added some people to the stack for illegitimate purposes, and nobody watching over the process caught the problem because they weren't looking for it.

The problem is that in ANY organization that's exactly the purpose of management: to watch for deviations from the organization's purpose. So this process was utterly delinquent.

So Gonzalez must go; he managed the process incorrectly, and is responsible for his inaction. Next up: who slipped those names in? They should go.

Finally: who designed the process? Most of the time with a foulup this bad the answer would be "nobody", or the same person who carried it out (i.e. Gonzalez); but the question has to be asked. If it turns out that the process was deliberately designed to have so little organizational oversight, there will be more than a few questions asked and assumptions confirmed.

This is very bad.

Of course, this is only a story. I don't know it's true; there may have been an actual purpose behind the firings that Gonzalez didn't explain. The burden is definitely on him to show a good reason -- if there wasn't a good reason for the dismissals, and he originally claimed they were for "performance", then the only reasons left are bad ones.

Seriously, it's pretty bad when you can't even come up with an *implausible* excuse.


Posted by conservative democrat [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 26, 2007 9:58 PM

So dems are filthy and scummy, hmmm. How can people still defend Gonzalez? "much ado about nothing" puh-lease, were way beyond that gop talking point. Filthy and scummy, now theres some civil discourse from a grown-up republican. You can tell when the gop is getting rocked by scandals, their minions get like cornered animals, real ugly and nasty.Get one thing straight about this Gonzalez scandal my neo-con friends, the fat lady hasn't sung yet. Can't wait for the Monica Goodling hearings. This is gonna have legs, long legs.

Posted by The Yell [TypeKey Profile Page] | April 27, 2007 7:31 AM

If by legs you mean demo-rats will not stop demanding somebody disprove their conspiracy theories, I guess you're right. "October Surprise" 'ran' for almost twenty years...