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March 05, 2007

Michael Hood Pulls Out an Interview with John McKay

Holy Smokes!  Turns out Blatherwood's wonderful Michael Hood happened to interview John McKay, one of eight Bush-appointed federal prosecutors just pushed out by the same administration.  Michael says that he did an interview with McKay in 2005 for Seattle Magazine that is very telling.  Only a small portion of the interview was published in the article.  Here's what McKay said at the time: 

I can't be directed to do something that is unethical, wrong or illegal.

McKay testifies tomorrow about the firings; he is one of four who will testify.  Shoephone's been doing a great job of keeping us up-to-date on the DoJ Attorney General firings and what they might mean.   Here.  And here.  And here.

Here's a bit of what McKay told Michael two years ago.

Conservative activists are taking credit for Bush's unexplained canning of the moderate Republican. It was hot and Republicans honcho's were mad- many publicly criticized McKay. The Evergreen Freedom Foundationfiled a complaint to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about what it called McKay's lax oversight of the tight election victory of Democratic Christine Gregoire over Republican Dino Rossi.

Designated GOP hitter, Stefan Sharkansky led the pack. In a smug post last month titled "Buh-bye" on his Republo-blog, he says he doesn't know why McKay was fired but wrote that the prosecutor, "did nothing but sit on his thumbs when asked to investigate the allegations of potential election fraud in King County in 2004, (And the allegations have been supported by subsequently discovered evidence, no thanks to McKay)."

But McKay told BlatherWatch, "If there was evidence of criminal fraud in an election, we'd have investigated it. There was zero evidence."

If McKay says the same thing in front of the House Judiciary sub-committee tomorrow, things are going to get interesting.  Didn't you just know that these Democratic investigations were going to dredge up the most fascinating buddy-buddy corruption?  Now, the Democratic Congresscritters on that sub-committee will even be able to ask McKay specific questions based on Michael's notes. 

He said people claiming to be Republicans were telling him he was a bad Republican because "... I wasn't going to bring a criminal investigation into a highly political process."

But McKay said his office did more investigating on the case than he could say at the time.

"We closely monitored the civil case in Chelan County. We weren't announcing that publicly at the time and were careful not to imply it. People might have misconstrued that we were 'actively investigating,' which we were not."

If it had been an "active investigation," it would have meant the feds had individuals who were targets because there was evidence that they'd conspired to harm the election.

"There was no evidence like that," he said.

"On the one hand, we didn't want to inhibit somebody from coming forward if they had evidence of criminal fraud. On the other hand, we couldn't just say, 'Ok, this stinks, we're going to convene a grand jury.' That would have been irresponsible."

I relished it because I knew what the right thing to do was- that is- look for evidence, and make decisons based on the law and evidence. Never respond to political pressure. That's what prosecutors do."

Sorry, Michael, for quoting so much of your piece.  But it is a wonderfully important interview to share with the public.  There's more but I'll just give you one more small piece.  Go read the rest.:

Did his ethical and non-partisan handling of the case lose McKay his job with the ultra-partisan, loyalty-demanding, administration known for its payback-is-a-bitch politics?

No one knows that it did, and everyone, including McKay, has so far denied it.

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 5, 2007 at 07:34 PM in National and International Politics, The Politics of Business | Permalink


Lynn - this interview of Michael's really bolsters the case against Gonzales and BushCo and McKay's experience with the voter fraud case seems to parallel the suspicious nature of Iglesias' firing -- refusing to "play ball" and go after Democrats purely for (Republican) partisan political gain. Domenici was the self-chosen judge of Iglesias, and he's in hot water for violating ethics rules. I'm hoping we will soon find out who the self-chosen judges of McKay were. I'd bet he already knows; it's a matter of whether he will go on the record.

For what it's worth, I met McKay about 3.5 years ago. He was participating in a panel discussion on the Patriot Act. I asked him (somewhat pointedly) if he really believed that civil liberties were being protected under the act, and whether newly proposed provisions for Partriot Act II -- such as giving govt. the authority to rifle through the private medical records of American citizens -- would be justifiable, legally or morally. His answer was that he didn't believe civil liberties were under attack, but that govt. needed to be careful not to cross the line. He also said that govt. utilizes tools for snooping through lots of private records already, and that it's not illegal. That response didn't make me feel any better. I asked him if there were any provisions he found at all questionable, and he answered "no". But I took that with a grain of salt, considering that he was there to represent the govt., not criticize it. And, though I left the event still feeling that the Patriot Act had some very questionable apects, I was impressed that McKay performed well under pressure. He was the lone wolf in the room, tasked with defending the act, and the majority of those attending were not shy about expressing their fears and mistrust of the govt's snooping powers. McKay never got bristly at the questions, and I have to say, that despite my total disagreements, he came off like an admirable, respectful man who was doing the job Bush asked him to do.

Which makes his ouster all the more confusing.

Posted by: shoephone | Mar 5, 2007 9:41:56 PM


I'm afraid I'm pretty cynical about Republicans. I think what we see is an attempt by the DoJ to get rid of the few remaining straight-arrow Republicans left in government. And it sounds from what you and Michael both say that McKay is one of those.

Popcorn tomorrow.

Posted by: Lynn | Mar 5, 2007 10:46:38 PM

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