Archive for the ‘Bill Mercer’ Category

by Jay Stevens

Matt’s got this story posted, about how Montana’s Bill Mercer and Attorney General Gonzalez retroactively changed a law so as to enable Mercer to “work” two jobs at once:

On Nov. 10, 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales sent a letter to a federal judge in Montana, assuring him that the U.S. attorney there, William W. Mercer, was not violating federal law by spending most of his time in Washington as a senior Justice Department official.

That same day, Mercer had a GOP Senate staffer insert into a bill a provision that would change the rules so that federal prosecutors could live outside their districts to serve in other jobs, according to documents and interviews.

Mercer’s non-presence in Montana was bogging down courts in Montana – at least that’s what Billings justice Molloy claimed in voicing his complaint. So the loyal Bushies jerry-rigged the rules to allow Mercer to ignore his Montana office, while (one assumes) still punching his time clock.

This maneuver is made even worse in light of the fact that the Dept of Justice used absentee office-holding as an excuse to fire New Mexico attorney David Iglesias. Only Iglesias wasn’t polishing wingtips in Washington DC during his absences, he was serving in the Naval Reserves.

That’s probably why Jon’s asking Mercer to step down:

For months, I gave Bill Mercer the benefit of the doubt that he was shooting straight with me and with the people of Montana. Mr. Mercer has been given every opportunity to do right by the people he represents; he has passed on that chance too many times. Mr. Mercer was operating outside federal law, so he had the law changed. That might work in Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department, but it’s not how we do business in Montana. He should resign his post as Montana’s U.S. Attorney immediately.

(Wouldn’t it be lovely to hear similar statements from Max and Dennis?)

That’s one of my pet peeves, I admit, when folks use their office or wealth or connections to skirt the rules they then apply to the rest of us with officious zeal. So, yeah, I think Mercer should step down.

But will he? And what should we do if he won’t? All this grilling of Gonzo is good fun, but I think it’s evident that the man is unfit for his office, as are his underlings. Let’s do something.

by Jay Stevens

Talking Points Memo – the place to go for prosecutor purge information – yesterday posted on Bill Mercer’s involvement with the firing of Carol Lam, the San Diego US attorney who busted Duke Cunningham and was sniffing around Dusty Foggo, Brent Wilkes, and Jerry Lewis (the Republican Representative) when she was canned, ostensibly over her failure to prosecute illegal immigrants with enough fervor.

TPM showed that Lam’s record on immigration was actually commendable, especially considering the lack of resources in her office.

Enter Bill Mercer, the interim number 3 man at the Department of Justice (and now likely to never receive Senate confirmation). In a May 31 email, Mercer flat out rejects the idea of sending Lam more resources:

“There are good reasons not to provide extensive resources to [Carol Lam’s district],” wrote Bill Mercer, a senior Justice Department official in May of 2006, responding to a suggestion that the Department provide Lam with more prosecutors. “Other border districts have done substantially more. It will send the message that if your people are killing themselves, the additional resources will go to folks who haven’t prioritized the same enforcement priority.”

In a June 5 email — five days later — Mercer suggests several plans of action, including adding resources to her San Diego office “immediately after Carol’s successor is named.”

Permeating the DoJ correspondence about Lam is criticism about her prosecutorial policies. But what’s obvious is that no one bothered to tell Lam that she wasn’t prioritizing the right cases.

That’s actually not surprising, if you consider this July 8 email from Mercer about Lam, dripping with contempt, in which he responds to Michael Elston’s comment about the plans to lay Lam low, “This is so sad – I am not adjusting well to this change”:

What that Carol can’t meet a deadline or that you’ll need to interact with her in the coming weeks or that she won’t just say “O.K. You got me. You’re right, I’ve ignored national priorities and obvious local needs. Shoot, my production is more hideous than I realized.”

Or that I’m not going to send you as many of these humorous missives?

Here’s what’s clear from these three brief emails. Mercer was out to fire Lam, even to the extent of ensuring that she wouldn’t be able to increase her production rate by sending her more resources – resources that would be available to her successor. In other words, it’s not about immigration, it’s about Lam.

But what’s not known is if Mercer knew Lam’s firing was political. Was he following orders and isolating and setting Lam up for certain failure because of orders? Did he believe it was about her record on immigration, and that the firing was about policy? Or was he in on it?

Update: Josh Marshall points out that the Duke Cunningham scandal was heading straight to the White House. Someone there approved a mail-screening contract for Cunningham crony, Mitchell Wade, who had no experience, manpower, or know-how for the job…

No wonder Carol Lam was fired.

by Jay Stevens

Sidney Blumenthal has an excellent summation of the prosecutor purge and the White House’s involvement in the scandal. It’s definitely worth a read.

Here are some highlights:

An internal e-mail, dated Jan. 6, 2005, and circulated within [the White House legal counsel’s] office, quoted Rove as asking “how we planned to proceed regarding the U.S. attorneys, whether we are going to allow all to stay, request resignations from all and accept only some of them, or selectively replace them, etc.” Three days later, [former Atty Gen’l Chief of Staff Kyle] Sampson, in an e-mail, “Re: Question from Karl Rove,” wrote: “As an operational matter we would like to replace 15-20 percent of the current U.S. attorneys — the underperforming ones …The vast majority of U.S. attorneys, 80-85 percent I would guess, are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc., etc.”

The “Bushies” comment is, of course, the damning bit. It shows that Sampson and Rove were thinking of ousting those attorneys who weren’t loyal to the Bush administration, and links the firings to Karl Rove and, one assumes, the President himself.

Blumenthal makes quick work of the White House apologists who compare Bush’s selective political firings to other prosecutor firings in the past:

A report issued on Feb. 22 from the Congressional Research Service revealed that between 1981 and 2006, only five of the 486 U.S. attorneys failed to finish their four-year terms, and none were fired for political reasons. Only three were fired for questionable behavior, including one on “accusations that he bit a topless dancer on the arm during a visit to an adult club after losing a big drug case.” In brief, Bush’s firings were unprecedented…

Things look especially bleak for New Mexico lawmakers Pete Domenici and Heather Wilson, who tried to coerce New Mexico attorney, David Iglesias, into pursuing a corruption case involving Democrats before the 2006 elections. There wasn’t enough evidence to pursue the case, though, and Iglesias was fired despite a stellar prosecutorial record. Both Domenici and Wilson have hired lawyers, no doubt in anticipation of the criminal charges that are likely to follow.

Blumenthal gives a brief summary of the probably reasons why each of the disputed firings took place:

–David Iglesias: (author of “Why I Was Fired”) refused to pursue nonexistent corruption charges against New Mexico Democrats
–David McKay: refused to pursue nonexistent voter fraud charges against Washington state Democrats
–Carol Lam: had prosecuted “Duke” Cunningham, and had her sights on GOP fundraiser Brent Wilkes, CIA exec Dusty Foggo, and California Republican Jerry Lewis
–“Bud” Cummins: investigating “conflict-of-interest corruption involving state contracts that Missouri governor Matt Blunt granted to Republican contributors”
–Paul Charlton: was “investigating Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz., for allegedly corrupt land deals and introducing legislation to benefit a major campaign contributor…”

Carol Lam is especially worth keeping an eye on: of all the correspondence thus far unearthed from Bill Mercer, he seems to be most heavily involved in her firing.

by Jay Stevens

Tired of the Bush presidency? Angry with the administration’s indifference to the US Constitution and the freedoms found therein? Would you like to see some justice meted out to amoral *sshats who used their sacred government positions to further the political agenda of the Bush administration?

Well, now’s your chance to help out!

The Department of Justice has dumped over 3,000 pages of documents to the House Judiciary Committee and Talking Points Memo wants you to help sift through the documents for interesting or damning information.

Download some documents from the House website and read ‘em through. Post any useful information you may find to the comments section.

By the way, from reading the excerpted emails from and Bill Mercer…it seems he did some bad things. So you media types may want to keep an eye on the proceedings.

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