When it comes to whose idea it was to fire eight U.S. attorneys last December, it seems that many people in the White House are starting to suffer from hazy memories. At first the administration contended that the idea for the firings had come from then White House counsel Harriet Miers, but yesterday emails surfaced that pointed to Karl Rove as having an instrumental role in the decision.
Â On Friday, Press Secretary Tony Snow said, “I don’t want to try to vouch for origination. At this juncture, people have hazy memories. Â ”This is as far as we can go: We know that Karl recollects Harriet having raised it and his recollection is that he dismissed it as not a good idea,” Snow said. “That’s what we know. We don’t know motivations. … I don’t think it’s safe to go any further than that.” Emails released by the Justice Department on Thursday night show that Rove had asked in early 2005 about firing the U.S. attorneys.
In the weeks before Alberto Gonzales took over as attorney general, he considered firing 20% of the U.S. attorneys. Some insight into the motivation for these firings can be found in an email from Gonzalesâ€™s former top aide Kyle Sampson. In it Sampson wrote that a mass firing “would certainly send ripples through the U.S. attorney community if we told folks they got one term only.” Sampson also wrote that “if Karl thinks there would be political will to do it, then so do I.” The fall out from these emails forced Sampson to resign earlier this week. All this is adding up to be bad news for Gonzales, as another Republican has called for his resignation.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said on Friday that, “It is ultimately the president’s decision, but perhaps it would benefit this administration if the attorney general was replaced with someone with a more professional focus rather than personal loyalty.â€ Rohrabacher also complained of â€œa pattern of arrogance in this administration.” House Democratic Whip Jim Clyburn said that these controversies made all administration officials look bad. “They don’t know anything about running government. They’re just political hacks. “Gonzales is just a political hack.”
The problem for the administration is that although the U.S. attorneys serve at the presidentâ€™s discretion. He can not treat U.S. attorneyâ€™s office as a patronage position, which he can use to reward political friends and punish enemies. If the White House decided to fire the attorneys for the sole reason of political leanings, then they abused their power. This latest scandal is just more confirmation that this White House is most of the most poorly administered executive branches in a long time. To put it in laymanâ€™s terms, these folks have no clue how to run a government. They are making such a mess of things that it will be a relief when they are gone.
Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com. Â His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics
Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse