This is my general review of the interim report on the USA Purge. If you haven't already done so, make sure you read the post on the Iglesias cover-up, which I believe to be the most important aspect of the report.
The report on the findings to date in the USA purge lists the following crimes and violations that may have been committed in the course of the USA firings:
- Obstruction of justice, attempted obstruction of justice [18 USC 1503, 1505, 1512(c)(2)]
- Criminal Hatch Act violations [18 USC 606]
- Presidential failure to ensure that laws are faithfully executed [Constitution, Article II, Section 3]
- Civil Hatch Act violations [5 USC 7323(a)(1)]
- Federal Civil Rights laws [18 USC 242]
- Conspiracy [18 USC 2, 371]
- Perjury [18 USC 1621]
- False Statements [18 USC 1001]
For a number of these potential crimes (particularly obstruction and criminal Hatch Act violations), the report cites multiple possible violations. This is a list that bloggers on this topic need to keep ready at hand, because it puts in concrete terms what this whole investigation is about. This report, for the first time, makes clear that Congress is investigating real criminal violations, that evidence suggests a crime was committed, and that by invoking executive privilege, the White House is obstructing the investigation into potential crimes.
There's another part of this report of which I'm particularly fond. I've been waiting for some time for Congress to contest Paul Clement's claim that Congress has no legislative need for more information into the USA firings. And this report does so in style, citing the same section of the Constitution I keep citing:
First, a variety of legislation is already under consideration regarding the manner of appointment of U.S. Attorneys in response to issues surfaced by our investigation, and one statute has already been enacted and signed by the President. Congress's authority to legislate on this subject derives from Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution: "Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments." Under that provision, Congress may permit certain officials--the president, courts, or the heads of departments--to appoint "inferior officers" of the United States and may establish the rules governing such appointments, and federal courts have held that U.S. Attorneys are such "inferior officers." Congress acted pursuant to that constitutional authority when it created the existing statutory processes for the appointment, removal, and replacement of U.S. Attorneys. [my emphasis]
Mr. Clement? Mr. Fielding? Do you still want to argue that Congress has no business pursuing this matter?
But the report doesn't stop there. It lists nine potential laws it is considering, for which it needs information to judge the value of the legislation. While some of these are areas on which we know Congress is mulling legislation--such as residency requirements that would prohibit Bill Mercer from being USA for
Conrad Burns Montana while only visiting the state 3 days a month. But some of them seem to be threats, as well, legislation that will directly strike at Bush's abuse of power. One, for example, would make it impossible to extend interim appointments through the Vacancy Reform Act. Another would stipulate acceptable contacts with USAs to prevent political pressure from affecting ongoing investigations. My favorite, though, is this one:
Also, current law provides for civil penalties, including removal, debarment from federal employment for up to 5 years, or a civil penalty up to $1,000, if a federal employee commits a prohibited personnel practice, including basing personnel decisions on a candidate's religion or political affiliation. However, personnel decisions made by federal officials in confidential, policy-making, policy-determining, or policy-advocating positions appointed by the president are not subject to review by the independent Merit Systems Protection Board. Instead, their cases are referred to the President himself. Based on results of the ongoing investigation, Gongress may well consider whether it is appropriate to leave to the sole review of the president punishment of high-level employees who have committed prohibited personnel practices, particularly basing employment decisions on political affiliation.
I propose we call this the Lurita Doan/Monica Goodling/Brad Schlozman Act. Because that's where we're headed, to the point where it becomes clear (as I think it has already with Doan) that Bush's political appointees will never get fired for politicizing our entire government.
I'm hoping Kagro X will weigh in on the rest of the report--where it lays out all the ways that Harriet's invocation of Bush's executive whatever is improper on about sixteen levels. It's a nice argument--too bad we're all about rule of force rather than rule of law with these thugs already.
I'll end with this bit for the Plame watchers out there.
It is now well established that, in the opening days of President Bush's second term, Senior Presidential Advisor Karl Rove raised the idea with officials in the White House Counsel's office of replacing some or all U.S. Attorneys. At this point, however, it is not known why Mr. Rove was interested in this issue, although he was at that time under investigation by a sitting U.S. Attorney and had testified twice [sic] before a federal grand jury in the matter.
This is one of the nice bits of the report that (as I said before) allays some of my doubts about the Rove subpoena.. It insinuates what many in the blogosphere have stated directly: that the most obvious reason Rove might have wanted to get rid of all the USAs was to get rid of Patrick Fitzgerald.
This report--finally!--lays things out in appropriate terms, in terms of criminal investigation. I doubt the Republicans will take it any more seriously (and the press seems not to have noticed). But that may change the way the ongoing investigation is perceived. Now let's do a similar one for the rest of Congress' investigations.