U.S. Attorney Firing Scandal Draws Coverage — from National to Local

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By: E&P Staff

The burgeoning scandal surrounding the recent firing of eight or more U.S. attorneys has produced widespread coverage this week, at least partly because it is both a national issue (now reaching the White House) and a local one, stretching from San Diego to New England.

For example, The New York Times leads today with, “The White House was deeply involved in the decision late last year to dismiss federal prosecutors, including some who had been criticized by Republican lawmakers, administration officials said Monday.

“Last October, President Bush spoke with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday. Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, was among the politicians who complained directly to the president, according to an administration official….Within a few weeks of the president?s comments to the attorney general, the Justice Department forced out seven prosecutors.

“Previously, the White House had said that Mr. Bush?s aides approved the list of prosecutors only after it was compiled.”

Across the country, the Seattle Times connected to that with this local angle: “Former U.S. Attorney John McKay said Monday night he was ‘stunned’ to hear President Bush told Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last October that Bush had received complaints about U.S. attorneys who were not energetically investigating voter-fraud cases.

“McKay doesn’t know if Republican unhappiness over his handling of the 2004 election cost him his job as U.S. Attorney for Western Washington, but the new revelations contained in a Washington Post story are sure to reignite questions about McKay’s dismissal and whether it was connected to Washington state’s hotly contested governor’s race.

“‘Had anyone at the Justice Department or the White House ordered me to pursue any matter criminally in the 2004 governor’s election, I would have resigned,’ McKay said. ‘There was no evidence, and I am not going to drag innocent people in front of a grand jury.’

“The conversation between Bush and Gonzales, along with e-mails and documents that the White House plans to turn over to Congress today, suggests the firings of McKay and seven other U.S. attorneys last year may have been politically motivated, despite previous Justice Department and White House denials, according to The Washington Post.”

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The blog Talking Points Memo has been on top of this story for months.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

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