"Lonly Hisp. W/M. Atty. Gen of the U.S. Lost or losing many of my frnds. Seeking LTR. Must have law degree and be friend of W."
The hallowed halls of the Justice Department must be very lonely places these days. One can almost hear the echoing foot steps as the Attorney General wanders around wondering where everyone is. They have been fired or quit. This past Tuesday Paul McNulty, the deputy attorney general of the US and the second highest ranking official at Justice called it quits. He is fourth official at Justice to resign in the wake of the US Attorney firing scandal.
This week we were treated to the regalia of the Bush presidency's very own Saturday Night Massacre. We have previously written about the events of the Nixon presidency when the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States resigned rather than follow the President's orders and fire the special prosecutor investigating Watergate. Eventually, Nixon found a janitor at the Justice Department named Robert Bork who was only too happy to follow the orders of the president and say, in those immortal words of Donald Trump: "Archibald Cox...you're fired!"
Now comes word of high speed car races to the Hospital bedside of then Attorney General John Ashcroft. Doped up on pain killers prior to his gallbladder surgery, and barely coherent, we learned that former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, with lights and sirens blazing on his motorcade, and FBI Director Robert Muller at his side, raced to the hospital to head off Bush's Chief Of Staff Andrew Card, and Alberto Gonzales- in his then role as counsel to the President. At stake on this rainy March night in 2004, was nothing less than Bush's illegal attempt to use the NSA to intercept phone calls of US Citizens without court authorization.
With Ashcroft seriously ill, the White House needed the Attorney General's signature to re-authorize the program. But Comey was acting Attorney General and his department's Office Of Legal Counsel had just issued an opinion that the secret program was illegal. Comey refused to sign the re-authorization order. With the program set to expire the next day, Card and Gonzales raced to the hospital to apparently hold Ashcroft's hand while they guided a pen on the line that said: "To Subvert the Constitution: SIGN HERE."
Comey testified before Congress this week that he literally raced up the hospital steps with the Director of the FBI close behind. As they ran into Ashcroft's hospital room, FBI Director Mueller shouted orders to Comey's FBI security detail not to let anyone remove Comey from the room without his permission.
Finally, the FBI vs. Secret Service shootout we've all been waiting for!!! Sort of like Batman versus Superman.
Anyway, the crisis lingered until Comey went to the White House the next day for a conference on terrorism. President Bush, wandering the hallways looking for his dog ( the president is way too busy to attend conferences) bumped into Comey. He put Comey in a headlock and patiently explained to Comey that the Constitution didn't exist for Presidents from Texas. The President then wrestled Comey into the family quarters, past a startled Laura Bush, and held him down on the floor while Dick Cheeney fast forwarded through the Godfather CD until he got to the point where Michael explains to his future wife Kay about how Luca Brazzi held a gun to a bandleader's head and explained that either his signature or his brains would be on the paper giving Johnny Fontane his release from his contract.
Comey signed the extension for the NSA to continue intercepting phone calls, and the NSA recently released this interesting transcript:
Kathy? It's Don.
Hi Don. What's up?
Don: We've had four more prosecutors arrested this week, and 16 resigned. We lost 9 of 10 jury trials, and there are more complaints about low morale at the office.
Kathy: Well, it sounds like a normal week. I'll be back from vacation in three or four weeks. Keep me informed.
It's been a fun week to be an American. And to those boys and girls labouring in obscurity at the Justice Department. To quote from Stripes: "I gotta party with you. When you stole that cow....you are a wild man."
We never really knew that the ability to sprint up a flight of stairs at a hospital and shout orders to the FBI to square off with the Secret Service was all part of the job of being a government lawyer. Kind of gives you a new way of looking at those supposedly out of shape AUSA's we keep seeing at 10:oo Am and 1:30 Pm during Magistrate Court.
See You In Court, limbering up in case we have to run interference to save the Constitution.
PS: You MUST go to David Markus's federal blog and check out the motion by Milt Hersch for his client to wear his cowboy hat in court, and the outstanding order written by Judge Cooke granting the motion. Who says the feds are a boring bunch of stiffs? (Actually we say that, but Judge Cooke is #1 in our book. A Federal Judge with a sense of humor.)
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