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March 12, 2007

Did Bush Tell Gonzales to Fire McKay?

Alberto Gonzales' days are numbered.

The New York Times is nailing the White House over its frantic -- and amateurish -- coverup operation in the firing of the U.S. attorneys. If only these fools had learned from Nixon's mistakes.

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 Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday. Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, was among the politicians who complained directly to the president, according to an administration official.

Which Republican politician spoke directly to the president about firing John McKay? I'll pull a rabbit out of my hat and say it's the incomparable Doc Hastings. The same Doc Hastings who, until January, was the chair of the House Ethics Committee, a job for which he was keenly unqualified -- unless protecting Tom Delay against expulsion from the House was part of his job description, in which case he did yeoman's work. It appears likely that it was Doc Hastings who gave former White House counsel Harriet Miers the leg up when she asked McKay why he had "mishandled" the WA State 2004 gubernatorial race. Miers has already been summoned for an "interview" with the House Judiciary Committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee wants a crack at the president's Rasputin, Karl Rove. They've both been promised subpoenas if they don't appear willingly.

The NYT documents the sloppy load of lies told by the administration regarding the firings: statements by the White House that it only approved a list of possible firings after it had already been compiled when, in fact, the White House compiled that list itself, and the multitude of contradictory public statements that has been made in recent days to explain the firings. Michael Battle, the DOJ official who was tasked with delivering the pink slips, resigned last week. D. Kyle Sampson, the DOJ official who worked closely with Miers on which prosecutors to fire, and how to handle the fallout (in a document titled "Prepare to Withstand Political Upheaval"), resigned Monday. Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for Gonzales' resignation and it's anybody's guess who's next. There's even more damning evidence in Tuesday's Washington Post about the administration's lust for using those new powers inserted into Patriot Act II to replace prosecutors without Congressional approval.

So, the Thursday Afternoon Massacre of December 7, 2006 seems to be backfiring on the Bush administration, much in the same way Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre more than 30 years ago backfired on him. If history really does repeat itself, we could see a whole slew of resignations, along with a series of hearings to rival those which took place the summer of 1973. And just as those hearings revealed a deeper conspiracy than the bungled break-in at the Watergate Hotel, there is much more to this present-day scandal than meets the eye. Former Nixon counsel John Dean famously spoke of a "growing cancer on the presidency". The crimes of the Bush White House are more like the Ebola Virus, voraciously eating away at every living thing in its path.

Many people have just assumed that the lies that led us to war would be the eventual undoing of George W. Bush's presidency. But events have a way of inserting themselves, and no one, not even the president himself, gets to choose the final passages to that last hurrah.

Update: John McKay reveals some rather stunning details about Tom McCabe's direct involvement in the brouhaha over the 2004 governor's race. This news can't possibly help Hastings.

Posted by shoephone on March 12, 2007 at 11:48 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink


The plot thickens...

shoe, if you have not gone over to the House Judiciary committee site and read all of the e-mails, you should - they are devastating in their implications. I'm guessing that when Alberto gave his little press conference today, he was counting on most people not bothering to read those e-mails - and hoping, I guess, that the "mistakes were made" generic acknowledgment, together with his assurance that he will get to the bottom of it, will hold off the mobs.

I will never be convinced that Al's chief of staff, who travels with him and is otherwise joined at his hip, was in this as deeply as he was, without Al's knowledge; it's just not possible. Not when Sampson is communicating regularly with Harriet Miers - who held Al's old job as WH counsel, not when he is communicating with others at DOJ and with Rove. Not when there is a road map for carrying out the firings, and not when they blatantly refer to this as a "pushing out."

It is encouraging, I think, that the Democrats are not going to be satisfied with a sacrificial lamb - or maybe in this case, a goat. Leahy, particularly, seems to be honing the edge on his knife, and I think that between Meiers and Alberto and some of the others, this is going to be quite an ugly spectacle.

About damn time someone was called to account.

For something that is growing daily in its sinister and criminal implications, with the potential to bring the Royal House of Cards down into a heap, it is hard to believe that neither ABC nor NBC have covered one word of it - at least until today; guess we'll have to see what the nightly news broadcasts hold.

Posted by: Anne | Mar 13, 2007 1:15:39 PM

Anne - believe me, the emails are affording most of the entertainment value of this thing! The ones between Sampson and Miers are hilarious, but, for purely legal purposes, the very best may be the emails between Sampson and Scott Jennings -- Rove's deputy.


Oh darn. I guess this will shoot down the White House's story that Rove wasn't involved in any of this mess.

I love the smell of subpoenas in the morning!

Posted by: shoephone | Mar 13, 2007 5:46:20 PM

Anne said: "...it is hard to believe that neither ABC nor NBC have covered one word of it - at least until today..."

MSNBC was covering it this morning, so I switched to Faux News for an hour - not a peep. At least NBC is a little bit better then Fox.

Posted by: op99 | Mar 13, 2007 6:42:58 PM

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