White House Purges Courts Of Independent Prosecutors

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


In his January 19 New York Times column (here, if you have access), Paul Krugman does a good job of crystalizing the recent goings-on at the White House in its purge of independent prosecutors. One by one, federal prosecutors are being relieved of their jobs in what Attorney General Alberto Gonzales describes as “a personnel matter.” More like a personal matter: The kinds of prosecutors that are being heaved out (like San Diego’s Carol Lam, who successfuly prosecuted Duke Cunningham) are the kind of attorneys who seek to bring justice for the people, and that appears to be making the Bush administration very uncomfortable.

According to Krugman, the White House has gotten rid of as few as four and as many as seven prosecutors (Gonzales is having trouble with the math) since the middle of December. As a rule, once a federal prosecutor is appointed, she serves for the remainder of the president’s term. Now that Democrats are in control in Congress, one might feel relief that none of Bush’s new appointees will be confirmed. Enter Sen. Arlen Specter.

When Specter was still chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he slipped a little gift for Bush into the revised Patriot Act bills–a proviso that eliminates the requirement that federal judicial appointees have only 120 days to be confirmed, and then replacements are named by federal district courts. One need only remember the chilling scene of Michael Moore’s driving an ice cream truck around the Capitol grounds and reading the Patriot Act through a loudspeaker to understand how easy it is to slip just about anything into a lengthy bill.

So now it does not matter whether the Senate confirms Bush’s new nominations–we are all stuck with them. I’m sure that Tom Maciulis and his media colleages do not care, but I do. If there is no one left to prosecute the corrupt and treasonous people at the top of our government, they have an absolute license to do whatever they wish.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate