Yesterday, the Justice Department’s Inspector General finally released the results of the investigation surrounding the reportedly politically-motivated firings of US attorneys in 2006. The 392-page report concluded that “partisan considerations were an important factor in the removal of several of the U.S. attorneys.” No big surprise there, but the report went on to note that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales “abdicated [his] responsibility to safeguard the integrity and independence of the department.” Not exactly a scathing indictment, but we’ll take it.
Of course, the report was only partially complete because the president and his advisors refused not only to cooperate with the congressional investigation, but the Justice Department’s as well. Apparently Attorney General Michael Mukasey felt so strongly that the president and his advisors were protected by executive privilege (despite a federal judge’s contradictory statements) that he didn’t even deem it necessary that Karl Rove or Harriet Miers speak to his own investigators.
Perhaps the only good news coming out of yesterday’s report is that Mukasey has assigned a special prosecutor to determine whether any criminal charges should be brought. Of course, we aren’t holding our breath. He has consistently said that criminal charges are unlikely, even before he saw the results of yesterday’s report. Congress confirmed Mr. Mukasey to usher in a new era for the department, one where respect for the rule of law was central to its mission. So far, it doesn’t seem like he’s lived up to those expectations.