Friday :: Jul 29, 2005

With Fitzgerald's Protector Leaving, Is Bush Setting Up A "Saturday Night Massacre?"

by Steve

Deputy Attorney General James Comey has announced that he is leaving the Bush Administration. Why is that a big deal? Because Comey is the man who installed Patrick Fitzgerald as the special counsel investigating the Valerie Plame outing, and has acted as a buffer between Fitzgerald and the political hacks at the top of the Department of Justice and the White House. Given the recusals and conflicts of interest that Alberto Gonzales and his top deputies have in doing anything on the Plame case or in going after Fitzgerald if they wanted to, Comeyís departure, the speed with which he will be replaced, and by whom becomes very important.

So whom is the Bush Administration planning to bring in as the new Deputy Attorney General? Timothy Flannigan, a Vice President and General Counsel of Tyco, who not only supervised the lobbying contract of one Jack Abramoff, but also worked to prevent Congress from passing legislation aimed at preventing offshore corporations from escaping American taxes.

But thatís not the worst of it.

Prior to his time at Tyco, Flannigan worked for, guess who, Alberto Gonzales, and guess where, the White House counselís office.

Presumably, as a result Flannigan would therefore also have to recuse himself from supervising Fitzgerald on the Plame case, since he has ties to Gonzales and worked for Gonzales in the office where his boss later laundered whatever evidence made its way over to the Justice Department from the White House. But before it even gets to that, Senate Democrats need to stop this nomination and even filibuster it, if for no other reason than to call attention to how the White House is taking steps to kill this investigation with a Saturday Night Massacre of its own. And why you ask could such a massacre happen if all of these political hacks with ties to the White House counselís office have to recuse themselves from possibly firing Fitzgerald when he gets too close with the Plame investigation?

Because one of the remaining senior Justice Department officials who may not have to recuse himself and could still fire Fitzgerald is none other that close Bush friend and fellow Yalie Robert McCallum, who isnít exactly clean on the Plame case himself. You remember good oleí Robert McCallum, donít you?

It's important to remember that Fitzgerald's appointment as a U. S. attorney in Chicago comes up for reappointment this fall, and that decision rests with, guess who, George W. Bush. And there is already pressure presumably within the GOP to dump Fitzgerald, for obvious reasons. But it isn't clear if a non-reappointment of Fitzgerald by Bush to his Justice position would also end his work as the special counsel on the Plame case, notwithstanding the political fallout that would cascade upon Bush by dumping Fitzgerald while he was in the middle of investigating the White House. And that is why the chain of command above Fitzgerald becomes important.

Update: It turns out that Susan Hudgens at Booman Tribune got the jump on me on this story earlier this morning, minus my concerns about our friend Mr. McCallum.

Steve :: 12:36 PM :: Comments (22) :: TrackBack (1) :: Digg It!