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March 22, 2007

George Bush: Obstructing Justice Every Which Way But Loose

Josh Marshall nails it:

Okay, enough. The president fired US Attorneys to stymie investigations of Republicans and punish US Attorneys who didn't harass Democrats with bogus voter fraud prosecutions. In the former instance, the evidence remains circumstantial. But in the latter the evidence is clear, overwhelming and undeniable.

Indeed, it is so undeniable the president hismelf does not deny it.

The president himself says that in some cases US Attorneys were dismissed because they were too lax in prosecuting election fraud. What he does not say -- but what we know directly from the accounts of the players involved -- is that these were cases in which Republican operatives and activists complained to the White House and Republican members of Congress that certain US Attorneys weren't convening grand juries or issuing indictments against Democrats, even though these were cases where all the available evidence suggests there was no wrongdoing prosecuted. (It's all reminiscent of the bogus voter fraud allegations Republicans got caught peddling in the South Dakota senate race in 2002. Only in this case getting these charges into the press wasn't enough; they wanted to use US Attorneys to actual harrass people or put them in jail.)


Back up a bit from the sparks flying over executive privilege and congressional testimony and you realize that these are textbook cases of the party in power interfering or obstructing the administration of justice for narrowly partisan purposes. It's a direct attack on the rule of law.

This much is already clear in the record. And we're now having a big public debate about the politics for each side if the president tries to obstruct the investigation and keep the truth from coming out. The contours and scope of executive privilege is one issue, and certainly an important one. But in this case it is being used as no more than a shield to keep the full extent of the president's perversion of the rule of law from becoming known.

Yesterday, Dave Reichert said he thinks John McKay has been treated badly and that the reason for McKay's firing may be due to his efforts to get more DOJ support for LinX, his effective and successful information sharing program. There's certainly evidence in the DOJ's document dump to make one think it played a part in the firing. (See pdf 1-2, pp. 37-50 or pdf 2-3, pp. 26-49 from the House Judiciary site.) But as for being the reason, well,

McKay doesn't buy it. "They didn't fire me over that," he said Tuesday.

Following both McKay's and Josh's theories, it's easy to find a plethora of evidence pointing to retaliation over the Republican loss in the 2004 gubernatorial election and the fact that neither Mckay's office nor the FBI agents assigned to the voter fraud investigation found any cause to bring charges. That result turned the state GOP into a pack of rabid dogs. Tom McCabe fired off a letter to Doc Hastings, demanding that he ask the White House to go after McKay. McCabe also claims he spoke directly to the White House. Bob Williams, head of the EFF, fired off letters of his own -- one to Attorney General Gonzales insisting there was election fraud, and one to the AG's Inspector General, Tom McLaughlin, blaming McKay for not going after it.

State GOP chair, Chris Vance, was busy contacting the White House too.

Vance said he talked about the governor's race frequently with Glynda Becker, the western states contact in Karl Rove's political office at the White House.

Add to that the news from March 11, when Dana Perino said Rove was a conduit between GOP officials and the White House for those complaints:

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Rove relayed complaints from Republican officials and others to the Justice Department and the White House Counsel's office.

Hastings hasn't remained unscathed. After McKay revealed in Congressional testimony that Hastings' office contacted him to inquire about the status of the investigation into voter fraud (a violation of Chapter 7 of the House Ethics Manual) CREW filed an ethics complaint against Hastings. McKay also related that when he was interviewed for a federal judgeship by White House Counsel Harriet Miers and her deputy, William Kelley, in August of 2005, he was asked why he had "mishandled" the 2004 election.

It's safe to say that the White House had more than just a passing interest in the voter fraud issue and complaints about McKay's handling of it.

In other related voter fraud matters, Tim Griffin, Karl Rove's former assistant and RNC operative, had done exactly what the GOP wanted during the 2004 election in Florida. Election fraud expert Greg Palast documents Griffin's part in the "sickly brilliant" RNC scheme to wipe 70,000 voters -- mostly black and Hispanic, homeless, new college students and members of the military serving overseas -- from Florida's voter rolls. And for successfully executing that operation? Griffin was rewarded with the US attorney seat in Arkansas, pushing USA Bud Cummins out in the process.

It's my contention that all roads to the White House have to pass through Karl Rove's toll booth first. He's done a masterful job over the years overseeing opposition research and executing whispering campaigns. (Remember McCain's "brown baby"?) And, um, there was that little episode involving the outing of a covert CIA agent. The voter fraud incidents will, hopefully, soon be part of the record too, but now that subpoenas are being issued for Rove's testimony we will be witnesses to a barrage of resistance tactics from the White House that will, in Josh Marshall's words, be used as "a shield to keep the full extent of the president's perversion of the rule of law from becoming known."

The Bush White House may as well just hang out a shingle on the Oval Office door that reads: Corrupting Democracy and Justice -- in Every Nook and Cranny in America.

Posted by shoephone on March 22, 2007 at 01:19 PM | Permalink


Ah, yes, the Orwellian alternate universe of the WSJ editorial board.

And then there was the Tony Snow twofer: "You can have Karl Rove under oath, or you can have the truth," and "The executive branch is under no compulsion to testify to Congress, because Congress in fact doesn't have oversight ability."

How much more of a "go f*ck yourselves" do we need? And when can we impeach these SOBs?

Posted by: Leslie in CA | Mar 22, 2007 1:48:41 PM

shoephone, thank you for another fine one.

Between Doc Hastings, Pete Domenici, Heather Wilson, and lord knows how many other Congresscritters who end up stuck to this thing before it's over, we may see the general trash-taking-out extend far beyond the White House and DoJ. (Exec Branch first, though, by all means!)

Anyhow, may their mutual embrace with Karl Rove prove a mutual political deathgrip. Yes. In. Deedy.

Posted by: lotus | Mar 22, 2007 2:14:01 PM

"You can have Karl Rove under oath, or you can have the truth" = Knee-Slapper of the Day (so far), Leslie in CA! Ooo wee.

Posted by: lotus | Mar 22, 2007 2:30:08 PM

Karl Rove is probably all that stands between Bush and impeachment, so it makes sense that he cannot expose Rove to public, sworn testimony; Rove may be smart, but this is, after all, the same guy who needed multiple trips to the grand jury to amend his testimony in the Plame case in order to avoid indictment.

And there is so much more at stake. Once the Congress - and the public - get a whiff of what has really been going on in the White House, how pervasive the lies, how cavalierly the Constitution has been treated, it will be all over. We'll keep seeing and hearing Snow shilling the same old talking points, but the difference I see is the reluctance of some in the MSM to completely buy in. There's pushback - for the first time, you're hearing more, "oh, come on, Tony," and if this keeps up, it will be as close to "Are you fucking kidding us, Tony?" as it can get and still make the airwaves.

It's just too bad there's no "Perversion of Justice" charge to go along with obstruction, because that's what these bastards have done.

Posted by: Anne | Mar 22, 2007 7:25:50 PM

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