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March 25, 2007

McKay on Meet the Press: There's a Black Cloud Hanging Over the Justice Department

Ousted US attorneys John McKay and David Iglesias were featured on this morning's Meet the Press, and their statements made it clear just why investigations into the firings of all eight USAs are needed. Russert came out of the gate to ask if McKay thought he was replaced because he wasn't a "loyal Bushie."

No, I don't think that's right, Tim... My office had recently received a very outstanding evaluation for the work that the men and women in Seattle do here on behalf of the United States government. So, we're more interested in being loyal to where the evidence goes in criminal cases, and not in politics.

Iglesias was asked about White House counsel Dan Bartlett's criticisms that he was fired for lack of leadership and performance problems. Russert noted that former Deputy AG James Comey had said "David Iglesias is one of our finest." Iglesias said Bartlett doesn't have a clue as to what he's talking about.

Mr. Comey has a better idea of what I was doing because he was my direct supervisor. Mr. Bartlett was never my supervisor.

Iglesias and McKay both said the claims of bad performance were bogus. After Iglesias was fired he asked officials at the department for future job references, because he knew that if he'd been fired for performance issues they never would have agreed to furnish the references (which they did.) McKay was asked about criticism that he handled the lobbying for LinX poorly. McKay made clear that the DOJ has fumbled. First they gave him no reason for his dismissal, then they said it was due to performance issues and then they said it was a policy disagreement. He thinks those are all "red herrings."

I think what's really happening here is the department has gone back and tried to find reasons to justify their dismissals of us.

When Russert asked if they still have confidence in AG Gonzales they were pretty straightforward. Iglesias:

Right now I've got serious doubts, I really do.

McKay:

I think that there is, as I said, a cloud over the Justice Department and that is just going to have to be removed.

Russert (to Iglesias):

To this day, do you believe you were removed for political reasons?

Iglesias:

Absolutely, yes.

Russert (to McKay):

Mr. McKay, what have you learned from this?

McKay:

..I am learning that the importance of prosecutorial independence, integrity, compassion, fairness, those are the issues that guided all of us as federal prosecutors. Our colleagues remain in office, and I believe they're following the same thing. They're carrying a heavier burden today and I think they're up to the task. And I hope that the American people understand that the federal prosecutions and prosecutors do hold these qualities closely to them, notwithstanding all that's gone on in the last few weeks.

Iglesias is clearly very angry about the way he's been treated and the lies that have been told about him. McKay was more circumspect (he has a new job, Iglesias doesn't) but it's obvious he's appalled at what has transpired. They support investigations at the highest levels. To both men I say "thank you" for your service in the name of judicial independence. I think we're beginning to understand a whole lot about the inner workings of the Bush Justice Department...

(transcriptions are mine.)

Update: Stillwell's got more quotes from the MTP transcript, in his post McKay on MTP: intital thoughts, that involve McKay getting barraged with GOP complaints on the election, and how it played a part in the questions he was asked during his White House interview for the judgeship.

Posted by shoephone on March 25, 2007 at 08:41 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

Comments

shoe, did you hang around to catch Durbin and Specter too?

Snivelin' Arlen led off with the hoary "Clinton fired 93 in one blow" then allowed as how he's "not gonna make a judgment on the basis of newspaper stories." AS IF "the newspapers" just concocted those emails for entertainment value, right?

Durbin let the "Clinton did it too" crap go unanswered but at least dumped Arlen's bowl of thin gruel right where it belongs, in the WH's lap.

Posted by: lotus | Mar 25, 2007 9:36:32 AM

Lotus - yes, I saw the entire program. However, McKay is the focus of my posts because he was Seattle's US attorney.

Posted by: shoephone | Mar 25, 2007 9:46:21 AM

Gotcha, shoe. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: lotus | Mar 25, 2007 9:56:01 AM

I keep wondering why moderate Republicans don't just come on over to the bright side. That PI article says that all three Democrats on the panel voted for McKay for federal judge and all three Republicans voted against him for partisan, Rovian-inspired reasons.

The same pattern has occurred in the state legislature when moderate Republicans get backing and cover from Democrats after being thrown to the side of the road by their own.

What gives?

Posted by: Lynn | Mar 25, 2007 10:42:07 AM

What came through for me was how clearly devastated McKay is about what is happening to the DOJ, and this, to me, is the hallmark of someone whose loyalty is right where it should be: to the law. I am happy that McKay has landed on his feet, but it troubles me greatly that whoever replaces him - and the other fired USA's - will not have the same kind of devotion to the rule of law that he did.

Posted by: Anne | Mar 25, 2007 11:20:24 AM

"I keep wondering why moderate Republicans don't just come on over to the bright side."

You 'n' me bof, Lynn, because they're certainly committing political suicide unless/until they do. Cenk Uygur posted a really good essay on this yesterday, "The Republican Party vs. George Bush." Check it out: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/3/24/12215/1090

Posted by: lotus | Mar 25, 2007 11:26:34 AM

Thanks for the link, lotus. Here's a quote from it:

"The reason you fire unpopular Secretaries of Defense or Attorney Generals or political advisors is because if you don't, your party suffers. People get pissed and start to think you don't give a damn what they think. For six years, this administration and their Republican enablers thought they were bullet-proof. They thought the regular rules of politics had been suspended.

Karl Rove entranced them into thinking that voodoo politics would work forever - just run to your base, don't worry about the center and there won't be any consequences. Well, there were. And now the chickens have come home to roost."

And, Cenk added that if we thought 2006 was a blow-out, wait until 2008. Amen. In 2008, the Democrats will have had time to actually get organized, something that hasn't been seen in decades. Just wait.

Posted by: Lynn | Mar 25, 2007 11:38:40 AM

Hammer 'em Shoephone!

Posted by: HopeSpringsATurtle | Mar 25, 2007 7:48:00 PM

Yes Lynn, I agree with your comments and the gist of the KOS post. The longer this failed president tries to ride out stink after stink the stronger the year of 08 will be for Dems across the board.

And you know, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove are telling Bush to stay the course regardless. I like these loosers more every day. Just 17 months and counting. Tic toc tic toc.

Posted by: Particle Man | Mar 25, 2007 10:28:55 PM

PM,

And the thing is, Bush doesn't seem to have a back-up mode of behavior. He just bulls it out, time after time. I don't think he's ever done anything else.

That's the good news and the bad news. Terrible for the country; probably good for the Democrats.

Posted by: Lynn | Mar 25, 2007 11:30:14 PM

If I were to play "street corner psychologist" I would have to surmise that Bush's unrelenting use of bullying tactics is a holdover from his frat-boy days and even more so, his alcoholic days. People who are successful at getting clean and sober must take responsiblity for past behavior, and endeavor to take responsibility for future behavior. Bush has done neither. His m.o. is to blame anyone and everyone for his own failures, a tactic that worked well when mommy and daddy were still happy to wipe up his messes for him. But now that Daddy's friends and colleagues are so dismayed at the disgrace Junior has brought on the country, they are content to paint his terrifying treachery as his alone. That's not a comfortable spot for a spoiled, vindictive, dry-drunk to be in.

I think we're going to see more of the same behavior from him, but in the ensuing unraveling of his presidency (and, I would say, of his mind) it's going to get a little scarier in the short term. Desperate men do desperate things. That being said, I pray for the continued good health of Pat Leahy and Henry Waxman every single day.

Posted by: shoephone | Mar 25, 2007 11:51:09 PM

Well, yes, that IS the problem, isn't it: gotcher governance by dry-drunk ratchere, folks, courtesy of the Republican party. They shaped GWB in their image then helped him shape themselves AND our government in his. Behol': disaster in all directions, as far as the eye can see. (You don't have to take my word for it, Goopers. Check out Novak in today's WaPo.)

Very long time before you lot live down this disgusting spectacle. Very long time before America does.

Posted by: lotus | Mar 26, 2007 5:30:50 AM

More on the GOP's ball-and-chain here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/26/washington/26warvote.html?_r=1&hp;=&oref;=slogin&pagewanted;=print

"NORTH CONWAY, N.H., March 24 — Senator John E. Sununu knows that his political future could hinge on the war in Iraq, try as he might to change the subject.

"For weeks, Mr. Sununu and Republican colleagues who face re-election next year have trudged through an on-again, off-again Iraq debate in Congress. So the annual Lincoln Day Dinner that he attended here Saturday evening, with its friendly audience, might have been expected to offer a respite from the realities of Washington.

"But even among the ladies and gentlemen of the Carroll County Republican Committee, more than a few of whom wore elephant neckties and broaches to celebrate the symbol of their party, the vexing issue of Iraq was the real elephant in the room.

“'Nobody is happy with the way the war is going,' said Richard Hickey, a certified public accountant and loyal Republican who attended the event. 'It was a Republican project, so my guess is that he’s in trouble. Senator Sununu has been such a big supporter of George W. Bush, the Democrats will take a good shot at him.' . . . ”

At ALL of them, yer dern tootin' we will!

Posted by: lotus | Mar 26, 2007 6:04:05 AM

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