Do You Really Want to Talk About U.S. Attorneys, Righties?

When I went to bed last night, conventional wisdom was that Chris Christie was on the ropes. But now I see the Noise Machine magicians have pulled a distraction out of a hat:

CNN, likely reporting on an email received last night from Reince Priebus:

Paul J. Fishman, the U.S. attorney tasked with looking into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s bridge controversy, has donated to several Democratic politicians and organizations, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Most notably, Fishman – who was nominated for the post by President Barack Obama in June 2009 – donated to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign on June 30, 2007. At the time of the contribution, Clinton was battling then-Sen. Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination. Fishman donated $2,300 to Clinton, according to the FEC.

Steve M says,

You know how this will be spun on the right, don’t you? Eric Holder’s Justice Department is now investigating Christie after refusing to investigate blah blah blah blah blah. Now the right has a liberal enemy in this matter. Game on

Because there’s nothing righties love more than painting themselves as the innocent victims of evil liberal oppression. Yesterday, the baggers saw Christie as a RINO. Within a few hours he’ll be Holy Saint Martyr Christopher of Blessed Persecution, or something.

But do indulge me as I take a little trip in the wayback payback machine to an item in the Maha Archives:

Further into the Kirkpatrick & Rutenberg article we find:

In New Jersey, Mr. Rove helped arrange the nomination of a major Bush campaign fund-raiser who had little prosecutorial experience.

That would be Christopher J. Christie.

Mr. Christie has brought public corruption charges against prominent members of both parties, but his most notable investigations have stung two Democrats, former Gov. James E. McGreevey and Senator Robert Menendez. When word of the latter inquiry leaked to the press during the 2006 campaign, Mr. Menendez sought to dismiss it by tying Mr. Christie to Mr. Rove, calling the investigation “straight out of the Bush-Rove playbook.” (Mr. McGreevey resigned after admitting to having an affair with a male aide and the Menendez investigation has not been resolved.)

Christie’s name popped up in another post from 2007, which led me to this NY Times editorial:

The Justice Department has been saying that it is committed to putting Senate-confirmed United States attorneys in every jurisdiction. But the newly released documents make it clear that the department was making an end run around the Senate — for baldly political reasons. Congress should broaden the investigation to determine whether any other prosecutors were forced out for not caving in to political pressure — or kept on because they did.

There was, for example, the decision by United States Attorney Chris Christie of New Jersey to open an investigation of Senator Bob Menendez just before his hotly contested re-election last November. Republicans, who would have held the Senate if Mr. Menendez had lost, used the news for attack ads. Then there was the career United States attorney in Guam who was removed by Mr. Bush in 2002 after he started investigating the superlobbyist Jack Abramoff. The prosecutor was replaced. The investigation was dropped.

Of course, if you point these inconsistencies out to righties they curl up into a fetal position and play the martyr well enough to make Joan of Arc at the stake look like a slacker.

BTW, the investigation into Menendez was closed by the Justice Department in 2011, but not in a way that made Christie look any less like a bully. Menendez had been collecting rent from a nonprofit community activist organization and had also helped the group secure a lot of federal grant money, so there was an appearance of quid pro quo. This was the matter that triggered the subpoena. But the rental arrangement had been pre-approved by the House Ethics Committee, so it’s not clear to me what Menendez was doing that warranted a subpoena, or that couldn’t have waited until (ahem) after the election.

BTW, the U.S. attorney who was originally assigned the Menendez case was Paul Fishman. But the newly appointed Fishman recused himself because Senator Menendez had backed him for the post.

19 thoughts on “Do You Really Want to Talk About U.S. Attorneys, Righties?

  1. Apparently these guys don’t realize there is one hell of a “paper trail” called the internet, where all of their past transgressions, statements, and comments can be exposed for the world to see. All it takes is some brave person to rage against the machine.

  2. There is a piece at MediaMatters on the wingnut media backing Darrell Issa’s call for the DOJ to replace the attorney investigating the IRS scandal because she donated to the Obama campaign. As MediaMatters notes, however, it is illegal to consider the political affiliation of career employees in making personnel decisions. I imagine that applies to US attorneys as well.

    • Dolorous — I assume most if not all of the sitting U.S. attorneys are Obama appointees, so finding one with no connections whatsoever to the Democrats will be a good trick. Of course, righties are not nearly so scrupulous when a Republican is in the White House.

      It’s long been a standard practice to fire and replace all the U.S. Attorneys when the White House passes from one party to another. Ronald Reagan did it in 1981, and nobody said a word. Bill Clinton did it in 1993, and the Right pitched a fit. In fact, when the Bush U.S. Attorney scandal made the news, I heard from righties saying that Janet Reno had fired all those attorneys, and why didn’t I write about that? (See post from 2007, “Old Rightie Lies Never Die.”)

      The nature of the Bush scandal was different, because in this case he (or Karl Rove) was replacing his own appointees in mid-term, and by all appearances he was doing this because some of the original appointees were not following Rove’s orders and stirring up investigations that could hurt Democrats in elections.

      I didn’t remember hearing any complaints about President Obama replacing U.S. attorneys, but it appears I wasn’t paying attention. At least some Bush appointees remained at their jobs for quite some time after Obama’s inauguration, though.

  3. erinyes,
    And before the internet, I seem to remember that we had people called “journalists” and “editors” – frequently also known as “muckrakers” – whose job it was to uncover past transgressions, statements, comments, and actions, that could be exposed for the whole world to see.

    But our Reich-Wingers effectively slowed down muckraking when the muck that was being raked came from Conservatives/Republicans – which was more often than they wanted rakes going through their muck.
    Cries of “LIBERAL MEDIA!!!”, scared enough newspaper owners (more and more frequently, owned by either rich individuals and/or corporations), whose interests were often much more in line with Conservatives/Republicans, than Liberals/Democrats.
    And hence “Investigative Journalism” started to peter-out, and he-said/she-said “journalism” took it’s place: Present contrasting opinions and statements, don’t evaluate them for veracity or mendacity, and let the public do its own raking through the muck – if they were so inclined, and wanted to turn their TV’s off.

    And then came FOX “News,” and everything went to hell!!!
    “News,” the way Reich-Wingers wanted it – to support their twisted Conservative/Republican viewpoints.
    “We report. You sit and veg out. And don’t forget your false teeth, or you won’t have anything to gnash when we keep telling you how evil Liberals, Democrats, and Muslims are.
    But, that’s a comment for another post.

  4. Yesterday, the baggers saw Christie as a RINO. Within a few hours he’ll be Holy Saint Martyr Christopher of Blessed Persecution, or something.

    Wait, what? Seriously? They’re going to circle their wagons around Chris Christie now? I guess it makes sense–he can join George Zimmerman in their Book of Martyrs.

    (Historical aside: I knew there was such a thing as a Book of Martyrs, but I wasn’t sure where or what. It turns out, appropriately enough, that the Actes and Monuments is commonly known as Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.)

    But my God, leaping to Christie’s defense does not strike me as a good idea, politically. Which is why I’m hoping they do. If this is the kind of government you want, vote Republican!

  5. Well the answer here is obvious, Christie was a US attorney for jersey in a previous life, so let’s just let Christie investigate this whole traffic mess, I’m sure he’ll be fair and balanced!

    I really thought this lard ass was toast when he was caught using the state police helicopter for his own private air shuttle service to his kid’s little league game, but the liberal media rehabilitated him quickly. Somehow I think the same thing will happen again, after all he’s all the republicants got.

  6. Perhaps you all can help me. For some reason, the name “Mister Creosote” has been stuck in my head the past few days. I just can’t think why….


  7. joanr16 …I know this is a long shot, but I watched a TED talk on the human mind once and the person giving the talk said that we are biologically programed to recognize patterns. There is a possibility that you might have recognized in your subconscious a slight similarity of sorts(a pattern) between Mr.Creosote and Chris Christie. I say that because Christie has been in the news for past few days, and there is always that possibility that you could be experiencing a pattern recognition however slight and unresolved to your cognition.

  8. Swami: Interesting theory. That might explain why I keep thinking about Tony Soprano.

  9. Ugh, creosote.when I was in the pile driver’s union in the 80s, there was a 15 cents per hour “creosote pay” extra for working with that crap.
    Did you Google “mister creosote ” yet?

  10. Stephen…I think in your case you are probably recognizing similarities of character.

    One of the things that is troubling me in regard to this Christie retribution ordeal is why would Christie issue a 1 hour time frame to his staff to come forward on their own accord with their confession of complicity rather than go to them direct and ask them what their involvement was. It seems to me as a tactic to buffer himself from the claims of him having any knowledge of the retribution. He fired his Deputy Chief of Staff for lying, but it was on a lie of omission that she was fired thereby giving Christie the separation from involvement.

  11. joan,
    I loved that Monty Python movie, so I got your reference, and didn’t need to goggle on the intertubes.

    • Meaning of Life was not one of their better movies, but Terry Jones as Mr. Creosote is kind of burned into my brain. Not necessarily in a good way, alas.

      IMO MP and the Holy Grail and Life of Brian are both treasures.

  12. Governor Christie isn’t ready for the big leagues. This was stupid and childish – anyone who thinks he didn’t order it needs to contact me. I can give them a fantastic deal on mountaintop land in South Florida overlooking the beautiful Lake Everglade.

    The Guv was preparing for a run for President. That means he was under a microscope – and he should have known it. He did know it – and yet a juvenile vendetta was irresistible. No one one his staff was smart enough to foresee or dissuade the boss. That means Christie surrounded himself in the Governor’s mansion with fools – a Nixonian trait.

    The POTUS has to look at consequences – “What happens if I do….”. Every word and motion is parsed – it doesn’t matter what party you are from. The arrogant bully from NJ can’t do that – this mess proves it. I don’t know if the GOP can produce a serous leader anymore – but Christie doesn’t measure up.

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