Bush Family’s Prosecutor Games
Published on Sunday, March 04, 2007.
Source: Consortium News – By Robert Parry
George W. Bush learned at least one lesson from his father: You want your federal prosecutors to be team players who will throw a political elbow or two when the White House needs some help.
When George H.W. Bush faced a tough reelection battle in 1992, his administration tried to destroy Bill Clinton by implicating him in criminal investigations. But those plans collapsed when federal law enforcement officials, including a U.S. Attorney in Arkansas, resisted what they saw as improper White House political pressure.
Now, the younger George Bush is moving to ensure that he won’t be sabotaged by similarly independent-minded prosecutors. The Washington Post reported that the White House approved the firing of seven U.S. attorneys at the end of 2006 after the Justice Department identified them as insufficiently supportive of the President’s policies.
The Justice Department got input on the firings from congressional Republicans, including Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico who criticized the performance of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, the Post reported. [Washington Post, March 3, 2007]
Iglesias has alleged that two New Mexico legislators – whom he says he will identify only under oath – pressured him to speed up indictments of Democrats before Election 2006. At the time, the Republican congressional majority was in jeopardy, in part, because of a series of GOP corruption scandals.
Some of the fired prosecutors handled those Republican corruption cases or served in offices that could play significant political roles in Campaign 2008. For instance, ousted San Diego U.S. Attorney Carol Lam oversaw the prosecution of Republican Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, whose case had opened a window on Washington war profiteering.
President Bush also replaced the U.S. Attorney in Arkansas, which was a focal point of investigative activity during Campaign 1992 when George H.W. Bush’s reelection campaign was digging for dirt on Bill Clinton – and which could be mined again if Hillary Clinton becomes the Democratic presidential nominee.
In 1992, the elder George Bush found himself in an uphill battle against the upstart Arkansas governor who had impressed many Americans with his energetic plans for the future, especially when contrasted with Bush’s difficulty in articulating a clear rationale for a second term.
As the campaign clock ticked down, the hard-ball players in the Bush camp were looking for a disclosure about Clinton that would be so damning as to make him unelectable. One scheme had been to float a false rumor that Clinton had tried to renounce his citizenship while a college student during the Vietnam War. [For details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]
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