SLABBED Daily: July 30 all politics is local

With the Washington Post reporting Rove Had Heavier Hand in Prosecutor Firings Than Previously Known, today’s SLABBED Daily looks at the firing of federal prosecutors from the perspective of all politics is local.

…Rove described himself as merely passing along complaints by senators and state party officials to White House lawyers…

The story focuses on three of the nine U.S. Attorneys fired in 2006 – a group that includes Missouri’s Todd Graves, known to SLABBED readers as counsel for Zach Scruggs in the case that became USA v Scruggs, Scruggs, and Backstrom.

Graves, the U.S. attorney in Missouri, was removed after staff members of Sen. Christopher S. “Kit” Bond (R) repeatedly complained to political aides and lawyers in the White House, according to interviews and the inspector general. Rove, who had done political consulting work for Bond earlier in their careers, said in the interview that he had become aware of the turmoil on the eve of President Bush’s visit to the state.

Graves brings the story home; but Dunn Lampton actually brought it closer.  Lampton, who until his recent resignation had been U.S. Attorney for Mississippi’s Southern District  since 2000, was once slated for a pink slip – and that brings us full circle to Rove’s testimony suggesting all politics is local.

As I read the Post’s story, Rove is not denying politics played a role in the firing of federal prosecutors.  However, instead of direction coming from Washington, Rove claims Washington was responding to complaints from the states.

For example, the Post quotes an Oct. 10, 2006, e-mail from White House political affairs aide Scott Jennings to Rove:

“I received a call from Steve Bell tonight. . . . Last week Sen. Domenici reached the chief of staff and asked that we remove the U.S. Atty. Steve wanted to make sure we all understood that they couldn’t be more serious about this request.”

Dunn Lampton’s term as U.S. Attorney included the indictment and conviction of Coast attorney Paul Minor.    SLABBED recently published a letter from Minor’s attorney Hiram Eastland to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder that raises questions about the relationship between Lampton’s prosecution of Minor and his removal from the pink slip list.  However, an earlier letter from Eastland letter to Fifth Circuit Judge Pricilla Owens, reported here, provides more detail:

Mr. Minor contributed information to the Judiciary Committee and Department of Justice investigations documenting that U.S. Attorney Dunn Lampton was “retained” by White House intervention only after he re-indicted Mr. Minor in December of2005…Similarly, Mr. Minor’s correspondence specifically urges that Mr. Rove and others should be fully investigated regarding this selective political prosecution issue.

Based upon your report’s findings that Mr. Lampton was recommended for removal from the January 1, 2006 Second List along with the fact that Mr. Lampton’s removal from the list [by White House Liaison Monica Goodling] came just after the December 6, 2005 reindictment of Mr. Minor, we strongly urge your office to fully investigate whether there was linkage between these two most significant occurrences that provides further evidence of the politically motivated prosecution of Mr. Minor by Mr. Lampton, the DOJ, the White House (including but not limited to Karl Rove) and any other coconspirators.

Eastland’s letter included as “Exhibit 3” a full copy of Minor’s correspondence with the Committee that goes into even greater detail about political connections.

As Minor’s letter indicates, Rove is not the first to suggest home grown political pressure to fire U.S. Attorneys.

The irony of the Post story running on the day Judge Bobby Delaughter entered a guilt plea to charges of lying to the F.B.I. should not be lost.  Nor should we be unwilling to consider Rove’s claimed role as a recipient of complaints he passed on to the counsel’s office to be passed onto Justice.

Have we met the enemy only to learn he is us?

All politics is local – revealing, perhaps, the worst in the best of us.

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