Yesterday the report of the joint investigation by Dept of Justice Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) on the removal of nine U.S. Attornyes in 2006 was released. The investigation was begun in March 2007 and was directed at " the reasons for the removals of the U.S. Attorneys and whether they were removed for partisan political purposes, or to influence an investigation or prosecution, or to retaliate for their actions in any specific investigation or prosecution.” and "... whether the Attorney General or others intended to bypass the Senate confirmation process in the replacement of any removed U.S. Attorney through the use of the Attorney General’s appointment power for Interim U.S. Attorneys."
The report has 13 chapters : Ch. 1 Introduction and Methodology; Ch. 2 Background on the office ofU.S. Attorney; Ch.3 Events surrounding the removals; Ch.4 - 12 Discuss each individual case; Ch. 13 Conclusions & Recommendations.
It is noteworthy that in three of the cases, the report concludes that the attorneys were removed for valid reasons: " Margaret Chiara from the Western District of Michigan and Kevin Ryan from the Northern District of California – we found that the Department had reasonable concerns about their performance and management, and that they were removed for those reasons." and " With regard to Carol Lam, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California, we also found no evidence to support speculation that Lam was removed in retaliation for her prosecution of certain public corruption cases."
However, major questions are raised in the other cases. In the concluding chapter,the report strongly criticizes former Attorney General Gonzales and recommends that a special prosecutor be appointed to follow up on their investigation:
"Most remarkably, Gonzales told us he had “no recollection” of the November 27, 2006, meeting in his conference room during which he approved the plan to request the resignations of the U.S. Attorneys on December 7. At the meeting, the other participants discussed the steps necessary to implement the plan. Gonzales was present, received a copy of the 3-page implementation plan, and gave his approval to proceed. Yet, only a few months later Gonzales stated that he did not remember this critical meeting."
( Ch 13, p. 340 )
"In short, we believe that senior Department officials – particularly the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney – abdicated their responsibility to safeguard the integrity and independence of the Department by failing to ensure that the removal of U.S. Attorneys was not based on improper political considerations."
( Ch 13, p. 331 )
"However, we were unable to fully develop the facts regarding the removal of Iglesias and several other U.S. Attorneys because of the refusal by certain key witnesses to be interviewed by us, as well as by the White House’s decision not to provide internal White House documents to us. Therefore, we recommend that counsel specially appointed by the Attorney General work with us to conduct further investigation and ultimately to determine whether the totality of the evidence demonstrates that any criminal offense was committed."
( Ch 13, p. 326 )
An Investigation into the Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006
September 2008 ( PDF 392 p. , HTML available soon )