U.S. Attorneys Offices

Monica Goodling 2 Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPG(No, not THAT Monica — it’s a bit late for that, dontcha think?)
Breaking news from Bloomberg:

Monica Goodling, a counsel to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who helped coordinate the dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys, will invoke her constitutional right not to answer Senate questions about the firings, her lawyer said.

Goodling, one of four Justice Department officials the agency said could be interviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, will invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege not to answer the panel’s questions, John M. Dowd, her lawyer, said in a statement. Dowd said the committee had requested her testimony under oath.

The Associated Press also has a story, available here.
We’re going to play unfrozen caveman legal commentator, and ask: Based on what we currently know about the U.S. Attorney firings, how could Goodling’s testimony expose her to criminal liability, to place her in a position to invoke the Fifth Amendment? What are we missing here?
Here’s what her lawyer, John Dowd, has to say about the matter. From the AP:

The potential for taking the blame for the department’s bungled response “is very real,” Dowd said. “One need look no further than the recent circumstances and proceedings involving Lewis Libby,” he said, a reference to the recent conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff in the CIA leak case.

The lesson we took away from the Libby case was: “Don’t lie under oath.”
So doesn’t Dowd’s argument prove too much? What does Goodling have to worry about as long as she testifies truthfully?
P.S. We have nothing against the DOJ or the White House under the current Administration. To paraphrase the classic defense against charges of racism, “Some of our best friends are [Bushies]!!!”
We’re just confused, that’s all. Clearly there were some screw-ups here. But is anyone (aside from Daily Kos types) seriously arguing that the underlying conduct was criminal?
Gonzales Aide Won’t Answer Questions About Prosecutor Firings [Bloomberg]
Gonzales Aide to Invoke Fifth Amendment [Associated Press]

Alberto Gonzales 2 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPG* Feel like putting down a couple hundred on Barack Obama or John Edwards? [Slate]
* Sen. Hagel uses the “i” word. [MSNBC]
* “New U.S. attorneys seem to have partisan records.” [McClatchy via Election Law Blog]
* AG Gonzales feeling more heat from GOP Senators. [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* Does DVR violate copyright laws? [Law.com]

Carol Lam 3 Carol C Lam Southern District of California San Diego Yale College Stanford Law School.JPGDebra Yang Debra Wong Yang Above the Law blog.jpgHere are three fun facts:

1. Until her controversial ouster, Carol Lam (far right) was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California (San Diego).

2. Until she was tempted away from government service by a $1.5 million offer from Gibson Dunn, Debra Wong Yang (near right) was the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California (Los Angeles).

3. As far as we know, Eumi Choi continues to serve as First Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California (San Francisco).

Coincidence? We have to ask:

What is up with Asian-American women and leadership positions in California U.S. Attorney offices?

Their presence in these posts would seem like a great leap forward for diversity — but it’s causing problems. Just ask poor Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Here’s what Senator Schumer wrote in a recent letter to President Bush:

In an email to the White House, [former Alberto Gonzales aide Kyle] Sampson refers to a “problem” with Carol Lam.

What was this “problem” and was Lam’s firing motivated by her investigation into former Congressmen Randy Cunningham and Representative Jerry Lewis?…

Mr. Sampson’s email was sent the same day [May 11, 2006] that the Los Angeles Times had broken the news that Ms. Lam’s investigation of former Congressman Randy Cunningham (R-CA) had expanded to include Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA).

OOPS. Carol Lam wasn’t investigating Jerry Lewis. If you go to the article in question, you’ll see that the Lewis investigation was being conducted by the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles — then headed by Debra Yang.
When contacted for comment, Senator Schumer stated: “The notion that I have bias against Asians is ludicrous. My favorite restaurant in D.C. is Hunan Dynasty. And I know all of the waitresses there by name!”
Update: In response to these comments, we must clarify: the Schumer quote is a joke.
Schumer’s Five Questions [TPMmuckraker]
Lewis Surfaces in Probe of Cunningham [Los Angeles Times via Truthout]
Carol Lam: Not Targeted Over the Jerry Lewis Investigation [Patterico's Pontifications]

United States Attorneys US Attorneys Above the Law blog.JPGThe scandal surrounding the firing of the eight U.S. Attorneys, while explosive and salacious, has presented us with some challenges. It’s a fast-moving story, and the information just keeps flooding in.
And because it’s such a huge story, the MSM has been covering it like crazy. We asked ourselves: What’s left for ATL to do?
Answer: Sponsor a U.S. Attorneys hotties contest!
Now that our Law Librarian Hotties contest is over, we must find a new group of legal professional hotties to rank. In light of all the public attention recently focused upon United States Attorneys, they’re an excellent subject for our next hotness competition.
Patrick J Fitzgerald 2 Patrick Fitzgerald Pat Fitzgerald Above the Law blog.JPGThere are many reasons to focus on chief federal prosecutors for a hotties contest. They’re clearly public figures, so they don’t present the same privacy concerns as so-called “civilians.” Their photographs are easy to find, because they’re always appearing before media outlets.
And, most importantly, some of them are pretty darn hot. For example, the hunky Patrick Fitzgerald (N.D. Ill.) helped make the Plamegate scandal worth following (with an assist from the scorchingly hot Valerie Plame herself). The apolitical zeal with which Pat Fitzgerald pursued the Scooty Libby prosecution was modern manliness at its best.
Carol Lam 2 Carol C Lam Southern District of California San Diego Yale College Stanford Law School.JPGThere are some fine offerings on the distaff side, too. The elegant Carol Lam (S.D. Cal.), according to her critics, was easy on immigration enforcement. But she’s pretty easy on the eyes, too!
(We could say more about Carol Lam’s hotness, but we won’t, ’cause she kinda looks like our aunt.)
We are now accepting your nominations of hot United States Attorneys. If you’d like to submit an attractive U.S Attorney for consideration, please review the rules and nomination guidelines, which appear after the jump. Thanks!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Above the Law Hotties: U.S. Attorneys!”

alberto gonzales alberto r gonzales attorney general.JPGThe story is moving very quickly, and there’s so much to keep track of. And we’re going to be away from our computer, attending the AEF dinner, when President Bush holds his press conference at 5:45 PM today.
So here’s an open thread to discuss the controversy over the U.S. Attorney firings. Please share your thoughts on the recently released emails, the chances of Alberto Gonzales keeping his job, and other related matters, in the comments to this post. Thanks.
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of the U.S. Attorneys controversy (scroll down)

Patrick J Fitzgerald Patrick Fitzgerald Pat Fitzgerald Above the Law blog.jpgYeah, we know: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales remains in office.* But his days are looking numbered. He’s received the kiss of death — a presidential expression of “confidence” — and even some Republicans are calling for his resignation.
So we have to ask:

If Alberto Gonzales steps (or gets pushed) aside, who should take his place as Attorney General?

We’re rooting for Shanetta Cutlar. But if she doesn’t get tapped, Andrew Cohen floats this interesting idea.
Right now, Patrick Fitzgerald is most well-known for his (successful) work on the Scooter Libby case. This may preclude his selection as AG, given the political hot potato that it turned into — and the embarrassment it caused for the Bush Administration.
But let’s not forget that, setting aside the Libby case, Fitzgerald has the background that one would normally seek in an Attorney General. He’s the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (Chicago), one of the nation’s most prestigious prosecutor’s offices, and he has some serious additional credentials.
After graduating from one of our nation’s finest high schools (shameless plug for our alma mater), Pat Fitzgerald went on to Amherst College and Harvard Law School. Before taking over as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District, he was a line prosecutor in the legendary Southern District of New York. As an AUSA in the SDNY, he worked on some major prosecutions, including the trials of Omar Abdel Rahman and Ramzi Yousef. He has been praised for his work as U.S. Attorney in Chicago.
Thoughts? Nominating Fitzgerald as AG might be kinda crazy, but kinda brilliant. It would change the story line big time, in a way that the White House might welcome.
(Some other random names we’ve heard as possible AG candidates: former Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey; SEC Chairman Christopher Cox; and Judge Laurence H. Silberman, of the D.C. Circuit.)
* It’s a rainy Friday afternoon, not much is going on, and people aren’t paying attention to the news. If you’d like to step down, Mr. Attorney General, there are still several hours of prime resignation time available to you.
The Case for Attorney General Patrick Fitzgerald [Washington Post / Bench Conference]

D Kyle Sampson Kyle Sampson Kyle D Sampson Kyle Samson Above the Law blog.jpgThe U.S. Attorneys firing scandal has claimed its first victim (other than the fired U.S. Attorneys): D. Kyle Sampson
Sampson, who served as chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, tendered his resignation on Monday. It was reported that Sampson failed to keep AG Gonzales and other top Justice Department officials in the loop about his discussions with former White House Counsel Harriet Miers concerning possible U.S. Attorney firings.
An interesting profile of Sampson, written by Eric Lipton, appeared in yesterday’s New York Times. It includes good detail about Sampson’s meteoric rise through conservative legal circles, as well as some backstory about Sampson’s own desire to serve as U.S. Attorney for Utah.
It’s a serious and sober portrait. If you’re in the mood for something on the lighter side, replete with discussion of Sampson’s skills on the basketball court, check out what we received from a helpful tipster. It appears after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Kyle Sampson Has A Streaky Three-Point Shot”

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco Eumi Choi Eumi Choi Above the Law.jpgOne of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys was Kevin Ryan, of the Northern District of California (San Francisco). As noted by the Legal Pad, his firing appears to be one of the less high-profile or controversial ones.
But it’s important to us, since it raises a question about our favorite federal prosecutor:

WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE FABULOUS EUMI CHOI?

Eumi Choi served as First Assistant U.S. Attorney under Kevin Ryan. As noted here, a previous paean to her, Choi is “a tough, smart, no-nonsense prosecutrix.”
We’re not the only ones wondering about Choi’s fate. Again, from the Legal Pad:

What’s the deal with Eumi Choi, the No. 2 to ousted U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan?

We’re hearing that the first assistant U.S. attorney has been sent down to be a line prosecutor. Not surprising, given that a new U.S. attorney such as recently appointed interim Scott Schools usually shakes up the top, especially in an office where prosecutors have frequently complained about management.

But Choi didn’t have much to say today when asked whether her job description had changed. She said she’d talk with office spokesman Luke Macaulay about getting us an answer.

This post was from March 5, and we see no subsequent posts about Choi over at the Legal Pad. So does anyone know what Choi is up to these days?
Is it true that she has been demoted? If so, we condemn such a move. Why are people so afraid of strong leadership?
And what about Choi’s search for private sector employment — is it still ongoing? Back in January, The Recorder reported that Choi “has had her resume floating around Silicon Valley for weeks.”
If you have any information about Eumi Choi and what she’s up to these days, please email us. Thanks.
Shred of Truth to Demotion of Ryan’s Sidekick? [Legal Pad]
E-Mails Paint Picture of Ryan’s Firing [Legal Pad]
Direction of Apple Probe Clouded by Shakeups in U.S. Attorney’s Office [The Recorder]
Earlier: How Yummy Is Eumi?
What Part of “Fabulous” Do You Not Understand?

He’s getting lectured on ethics and accountability by our favorite former First Lady:
Hillary Clinton Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpg
Of course, Hillary Clinton was accused of similar conduct — firing public servants to make way for cronies — in the Travelgate scandal. But there’s a critical difference between them: Hillary is delicious, and Alberto Gonzales is not.
Update: Oh yeah, the situations differ in other respects, too. But the deliciousness differential is the most important factor by far.
Random aside: Before he took the podium at yesterday’s news conference, Attorney General Gonzales gave a peck on the cheek to a striking blonde woman. We believe that the kissed colleague was Alice Fisher, the diva-licious queen of the DOJ’s Criminal Division, but we’re not sure. If you know for certain, please confirm.
EXCLUSIVE: Hillary Clinton Calls for Gonzales’ Resignation [ABC News]

Alberto Gonzales Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGAttorney General Alberto Gonzales gave a news briefing this afternoon on the controversial firings of eight U.S. Attorneys. When we saw him on CNN, stepping in front of the cameras for an unplanned press conference, we immediately thought: “Is he resigning?”
As it turns out, noemphatically not. Attorney General Gonzales is not going anywhere, at least for now. But a Gonzales resignation no longer lies outside the realm of possibility. Earlier this week, Gonzales accepted the resignation of Kyle Sampson, his chief of staff, who reportedly failed to brief other senior DOJ officials about his discussions with former White House Counsel Harriet Miers about the firings.
Furthermore, White House press secretary Tony Snow declared that President Bush “has confidence” in Alberto Gonzales. Uh-oh — inside the Beltway, that’s the kiss of death. Recall that the president expressed his “confidence” in former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld shortly before canning his ass.
This morning the WSJ Law Blog upgraded the U.S. Attorney controversy from “an imbroglio” to “a mess.” We’re not sure that’s an upgrade exactly. But assuming it is, we will see their “mess,” and raise them a “s**tstorm.”
Gonzales: Prosecutors Firings Mishandled [Associated Press]
If It’s Gone-Zales, Then Who Should be the Next AG? [WSJ Law Blog]
Alberto Gonzales Lives To Justify Atrocities Another Day [Wonkette]

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