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Some Scandal

Following the U.S. Attorneys “scandal,” I am surprised to find that there aren’t more of the usual flacks recalling that Clinton fired all U.S. Attorneys upon arriving in office in 1993.  They had no replacements, and their posts were left vacant for quite a while.  Everyone knows about this.  I am sure everyone knows about this because I remember it and I was only a kid at the time.  Okay, a kid who read The Economist and Chronicles, but still just a kid.  As the Post story tells us, even the hideous Gonzales knew better than to do something asstupid and harmful as firing all of the prosecutors at the start of the second term.

What about the fired prosecutors?  The Post says:

Only three of those eventually fired were given low rankings: Margaret Chiara in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Bud Cummins in Little Rock; and Carol S. Lam in San Diego. Two were given strong evaluations: David C. Iglesias in Albuquerque, who has alleged political interference from GOP lawmakers, and Kevin V. Ryan in San Francisco, whose firing has generated few complaints because of widespread management and morale problems in his office.

So four out of eight probably were dismissed legitimately for poor performance or poor management of the office.  As I was reminded recently by folks back in New Mexico, Iglesias was something of an absentee overseer of his office and almost completely bungled the Vigil prosecution (the first trial was a mistrial).  He very well might have been ignoring legitimate voter fraud cases, and there almost certainly were some–it’s New Mexico, for goodness’ sakes!  If his firing had good cause, that makes for five firings that were probably not really all that ethically objectionable.  If the prosecutor up in Washington state really did drop the ball on investigating legitimate claims of voter fraud in their very close gubernatorial election, maybe that firing was also legit. 

Of course, the administration has squandered all goodwill and trust, and people are right to trust nothing they say.  As some of us have been saying for years, these people are egregious liars.  Certainly, no one is happier than I am to see them brought low any which way, but it is bizarre that this is the administration decision that seems to have brought the roof crashing in upon them.  They have done so many far worse things through the years that it is hard to believe that firings that were possibly fairly routine have become the great scandal of our time.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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