Tuesday :: Aug 16, 2005

Treasongate update: Dems demand Justice Department Inspector General open investigation into John Ashcroft

by eriposte

Murray Waas has an update on his website, including some excerpts (a fraction of which I am reproducing below) from the letter from Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) and Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) that is expected to be released tomorrow:

[W]e write to request that your Office immediately investigate whether then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft violated explicit rules on conflicts of interest when he failed to recuse himself from, and in fact was briefed on, the CIA name leak investigation despite his personal connection to Karl Rove, a person of interest to investigators.
These new disclosures are troubling because, at the time of these events, Mr. Ashcroft had known personal and political connections to Mr. Rove. Mr. Rove was an adviser to Mr. Ashcroft during the latter's political campaigns, earning almost $750,000 for his services. Mr. Rove also had urged the President to nominate Mr. Ashcroft to be Attorney General after Mr. Ashcroft lost his Senate re-election campaign to the deceased Mel Carnahan. The fact that Mr. Ashcroft eventually recused himself demonstrates that there in fact were conflicts of interest with his continued involvement in the investigation. The fact that he did not recuse himself early on and was briefed on the matter may well have violated ethical rules and guidelines.
Federal law requires the Attorney General to promulgate rules mandating the disqualification of any officer or employee of the Justice Department "from participation in a particular investigation or prosecution if such participation may result in a personal, financial, or political conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof." Pursuant to this requirement, the Department has promulgated regulations stating that:

no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with: (1) any person . . . substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution; or (2) any person . . . which he knows or has a specific and substantial interest that would be affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution.

In this case, Mr. Ashcroft would have been prohibited from involvement in the leak investigation under both provisions. His relationships with the President and Mr. Rove consists of both personal and political connections with individuals who might have been the investigation's subjects. At a minimum, his friend, Mr. Rove, had a "specific and substantial interest that would be affected by the outcome" in that his entire political legacy would be tarnished if he were implicated in the leak.

(Talk Left has a post on this as well).

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