Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Tip of the Iceberg

Booman tells us what the U.S. Attorney scandal is all about in case you are confronted with a right-winger who, feigning ignorance, says: I don't understand what all the fuss is about. This is what it's about... and it's only the tip of the iceberg.
If you are Jerry Lewis, the chairman of the House Appropriations committee, and you have a federal prosecutor sniffing up your ass, what do you do? Well, one thing you can do is hire a staunchly Republican law firm to represent you. And then you can get that law firm to hire the prosecutor. Suddenly, you have not only disrupted the investigation, but you have all the dope on the case that is being developed against you.

But it isn't that simple. Jerry Lewis needed to give the prosecutor a little nudge, just so she knew her choice was between unemployment and enrichment.

Kyle Sampson, the Justice Department staff member in charge of the firings, told investigators last month in still-secret testimony that Harriet Miers, the White House counsel at the time, had asked him more than once about Ms. [Debra Wong] Yang. He testified, according to Congressional sources, that as late as mid-September, Ms. Miers wanted to know whether Ms. Yang could be made to resign. Mr. Sampson reportedly recalled that Ms. Miers was focused on just two United States attorneys: Ms. Yang and Bud Cummins, the Arkansas prosecutor who was later fired to make room for Tim Griffin, a Republican political operative and Karl Rove protégé.

Harriet Miers, you might remember, was George W. Bush's choice for the Supreme Court. Of course, Bernie Kerik was Bush's choice for Director of Homeland Security even though he was a mob-connected, incompetent crook. Go figure.

What's emerging in the Attorney scandal is a clear pattern. All the prosecutors appear to have been either pursuing corruption scandals or failing to pursue baseless voter fraud cases. And no one in the Department of Justice will take responsibility for making up the list. There is only one suspect left in the Justice Department that has not denied responsibility (Monica Goodling), and she has taken the fifth amendment. The problem is that Ms. Goodling was the liaison to the White House. If she made up the list we can be sure that it was dictated to her by someone in the White House.

Back on August 13, 2005, after Jack Abramoff was indicted, the Washington Post reported:

In Washington, a task force that includes the Justice Department, the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service and the Interior Department's inspector general has been picking through thousands of Abramoff's e-mails and lobbying records for more than a year to determine if any favors or gifts to lawmakers amounted to bribes for official actions. The two Senate committees -- Indian Affairs and Finance -- are investigating Abramoff's representation of tribes and the alleged abuse of charities for political purposes.

Legal analysts agree that this first indictment is typical of government prosecutions of people who are under investigation in more than one case. The first indictment sends a signal that prosecutors are serious, and then they typically wait to see if lawyers want to begin discussions about possible cooperation. If not, prosecutors often bring another set of indictments.

"What they're looking for is how many names can they give -- and by names I mean members of Congress or other prominent people -- and what kind of message do they want to send," said Mike Missal, a former government lawyer now practicing white-collar-crime defense in Washington. "If just Abramoff goes down, it is not that big a deal for prosecutors. If he brings down members of Congress, it is a much more noteworthy case. That would be the ultimate target here."

It was on December 14, 2005 that the House filed the conference negotiated Patriot Act renewal that contained the language allowing Bush and Gonzales to bypass Senate confirmation for filling prosecutor vacancies. It's no accident that this all got started in the fall of 2005. Washington was swirling with rumors that the Abramoff scandal was going to take out as many as a dozen Republican congresspeople. Look at this article from the Washington Post's Susan Schmitt that appeared on December 21, 2005.

Former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, facing trial on fraud charges Jan. 9 in Florida, is negotiating a possible deal with the Justice Department, in which he would agree to plead guilty and cooperate in the wide-ranging political corruption investigation focused on his dealings with members of Congress and executive branch officials, people familiar with the talks said last night.

Abramoff would provide testimony about numerous members of Congress and their staffs if he and the Justice Department reach an agreement, the sources said. Negotiations have been ongoing for several months, people knowledgeable about the discussions said, but pressure is mounting because of the pending trial.

Abramoff's co-defendant in that case, Adam Kidan, agreed last week to plead guilty to conspiracy and wire fraud, and to testify against his former business partner. Abramoff would face significant jail time in any plea deal, the sources said.

You think the timing of this was all an accident?

What we have here is a massive conspiracy that was hatched to cover up rampant corruption that was raging all throughout the Republican Party. They did their best to limit the fallout by interfering in the investigations of Congressmen Doolittle, Renzi, Jerry Lewis, fallout from Duke Cunningham, etc.

Meanwhile, they transformed the civil rights division at DOJ from an outfit that defends voting rights to an outfit that pursues baseless voting fraud cases.

It was a criminal process from beginning to end, and we've only seen the tip of the iceberg.

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