Against the Law

Adam Cohen writes in the New York Times about possible criminal prosecutions stemming from the U.S. attorney purge. These are:

1. Misrepresentations to Congress. The relevant provision, 18 U.S.C. § 1505, is very broad. It is illegal to lie to Congress, and also to “impede” it in getting information. Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty indicated to Congress that the White House’s involvement in firing the United States attorneys was minimal, something that Justice Department e-mail messages suggest to be untrue….

… 2. Calling the Prosecutors. As part of the Sarbanes-Oxley reforms, Congress passed an extremely broad obstruction of justice provision, 18 U.S.C. § 1512 (c), which applies to anyone who corruptly “obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so,” including U.S. attorney investigations.

David Iglesias, the New Mexico United States attorney, says Senator Pete Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, called him and asked whether he intended to bring indictments in a corruption case against Democrats before last November’s election. Mr. Iglesias said he “felt pressured” by the call. If members of Congress try to get a United States attorney to indict people he wasn’t certain he wanted to indict, or try to affect the timing of an indictment, they may be violating the law.

3. Witness Tampering. 18 U.S.C. § 1512 (b) makes it illegal to intimidate Congressional witnesses. Michael Elston, Mr. McNulty’s chief of staff, contacted one of the fired attorneys, H. E. Cummins, and suggested, according to Mr. Cummins, that if he kept speaking out, there would be retaliation. Mr. Cummins took the call as a threat, and sent an e-mail message to other fired prosecutors warning them of it. Several of them told Congress that if Mr. Elston had placed a similar call to one of their witnesses in a criminal case, they would have opened an investigation of it.

4. Firing the Attorneys. United States attorneys can be fired whenever a president wants, but not, as § 1512 (c) puts it, to corruptly obstruct, influence, or impede an official proceeding.

I say this could put the peach back into impeachment, so to speak.

6 thoughts on “Against the Law

  1. Let’s hope so..I think they’ve been rattled and are hunkered down trying to construct an escape route. Meanwhile they have Tony Snow out there trying to run interference with his Presidential prerogative dodge. Muddy the waters and sow confusion…yeah, that’s the ticket.

    Oh, BTW..Happy Anniversary America! Four years of militaristic bliss..may many more souls wing their way to heaven on our glorious quest of righteousness.

  2. In the meantime, the Dems need to keep issuing subpoenas and ask the right questions under oath. This leaves the Republic Party criminals 2 choices:

    1. revealing and confessing their crimes
    2. committing perjury while trying to cover up their crimes.

  3. Interesting point Publicus, but as Scooter Libby has already demonstrated, the Bush crowd has no more respect for a promise to tell the truth than they do for the law in general or their oaths of office in particular. In most cases, any potential witnesses have already sworn an oath to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States of America. Why did they not honor that?

    Perhaps the key question that should be asked is if the witness has already sworn some other oath that they might feel supersedes any others – a blood oath of allegiance to George W. Bush perhaps, or to the Republican party, or to Skull & Bones. The Bu$hCo inner circle act as any elite secret society of stormtroopers. The people have a right to know what ceremonial swords they are falling on, for whom, and why.

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