Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Report Suggests Laws Broken in Attorney Firings

Washington Post

House Democrats, preparing for a vote today on contempt citations against President Bush's chief of staff and former counsel, produced a report yesterday that for the first time alleges specific ways that several administration officials may have broken the law during the multiple firings of U.S. attorneys.

The report says that Congress's seven-month investigation into the firings raises "serious concerns" that senior White House and Justice Department aides involved in the removal of nine U.S. attorneys last year may have obstructed justice and violated federal statutes that protect civil service employees, prohibit political retaliation against government officials and cover presidential records.

The 52-page memorandum, from House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), seeks to explain why Democrats are trying to overcome an effort by the White House to shield officials and documents from the congressional inquiry through a claim of executive privilege. The report also provides the first written account of the Democrats' interpretation of the firings and the administration's response to the controversy.

The investigation "has uncovered serious evidence of wrongdoing by the department and White House staff," Conyers says.

The memorandum says the probe has turned up evidence that some of the U.S. attorneys were improperly selected for firing because of their handling of vote fraud allegations, public corruption cases or other cases that could affect close elections. It also says that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and senior Justice aides "appear to have made false or misleading statements to Congress, many of which sought to minimize the role of White House personnel."......

No comments: