WASHINGTON (CN) – Attorney General Michael Mukasey today appointed a special prosecutor to determine whether criminal charges should be brought against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and other Justice Department officials for the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.
Mukasey acted as the Justice Department inspector general released a 392-page report scorching Gonzales and his top aides for the process that led to the firings.
“The report makes plain that, at a minimum, the process by which nine U.S. attorneys were removed in 2006 was haphazard, arbitrary and unprofessional, and the way in which the Justice Department handled those removals and the resulting public controversy was profoundly lacking,” Mukasey said in a statement.
Nora Dannehy, acting U.S. attorney in Connecticut, will lead the investigation. A graduate of Harvard Law School and a 17-year prosecutor, she specializes in white collar cases.
The inspector general’s report laid the blame for “serious failures” in the firings with Gonzales, his deputy Paul McNulty, and chief of staff Kyle Sampson. It found that Gonzales and McNulty “abdicated their responsibility to adequately oversee the process and ensure that the reasons for removal of each U.S. Attorney were supportable and not improper,” and found that Sampson “also bears significant responsibility for the flawed and arbitrary removal process.”
The report’s lead authors are Inspector General Glenn Fine and H. Marshall Jarrett, counsel for the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility. They wrote that their investigation is incomplete because of their inability to interview President Bush’s former chief political adviser Karl Rove, who is believed to have had a hand in the firing; Bush’s White House Counsel Harriet Miers; the DOJ’s former White House liaison Monica Goodling; New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici; and Domenici’s chief of staff Steven Bell. The also wrote that “the White House would not provide us with internal documents related to the removals of the U.S. attorneys.”