Gonzales: U.S. Attorneys With ‘Management Issues’ Should Be Fired, Unless They’re Loyal Bushies
In Thursday’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales admitted that in Nov. 2006, he approved the firings of several U.S. attorneys “without ever looking at [their] performance reports.” He also admitted that at the time, he didn’t even know why two of the prosecutors — Daniel Bogden in Nevada and Margaret Chiara in Michigan — were on the hit list.
At the hearing, Gonzales told Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) that he later learned Chiara’s office suffered from “poor management issues” and a “loss of confidence by career individuals,” which justified the firing:
BROWNBACK: Margaret Chiara, the Western District of Michigan?
GONZALES: Same issue. She’s the other person, quite candidly, Senator, that I don’t recall remembering — I don’t recall the reason why that I accepted the decision on December 7th. But I’ve since learned that it was a question of similar kinds of issues: poor management issues, loss of confidence by career individuals.Gonzales’s explanation seems to be nothing more than a false excuse. Four top staffers to Rachel Paulose, the U.S. attorney in Minnesota, recently voluntarily demoted themselves in protest of Paulose’s “highly dictatorial style” of managing. According to news reports, the staffers’ dramatic moves were “intended to send a message to Washington — that 33-year-old Paulose is in over her head.” Additionally, the Bush administration unsuccessfully tried to prevent the resignations by sending a “top justice official to Minneapolis” to mediate.
We had to send someone out from main Justice to help mediate some kind of personnel dispute. So it was a question simply of someone not having total control of the office.
Yet Justice Department has not fired Paulose, even though her office has the same problems that Gonzales said Chiara’s office suffered. Instead, it put out a statement of support, stating it was “confident” Paulose was “dedicated to leading an effective U.S. attorneys office in Minnesota.”
A look at Paulose’s background may explain why she is still in her job. A Bush administration loyalist, Paulose was “a special assistant to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, worked as a senior counsel for deputy attorney general Paul McNulty and is best buds with Monica Goodling.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) called Gonzales’s explanations “a stretch,” adding that he thought the prosecutors were fired because of “made up reasons.”