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Monday, January 3, 2011 

Don’t expect Issa to investigate the US Attorney scandal either

 

As the new, GOP-led Congress begins work this week, one of the new Representatives will be Tim Griffin from Arkansas. While he's new to his role as Congressman, he's plenty familiar inside the beltway -- as the centerpiece of one of the biggest Bush Administration scandals. As TPM notes, the Rove protege was on the receiving end of a plum resume-padding job in the Justice Department after the White House pressured for U.S. Attorney H.E. "Bud" Cummins III to be fired. Where is Griffin heading in the new Congress? The Judicial Committee of course.
 
Will his involvement in one of the most corrupt scandals in recent memory at the Department of Justice peak Darrell Issa's interest? Probably not, since Issa himself has been neck-deep in shady dealings with U.S. Attorney firings himself.
 
Issa was an early critic of Carol Lam, the Bush-appointed U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of California. His criticism of Lam began as early as 2004, with repeated complaints that her focus on white-collar crime was at the expense of pursuing illegal immigration cases. He kept up his criticisms as her office began investigating fellow San Diego congressman Duke Cunningham, and both Issa and Cunningham were among the signers of a 2005 letter demanding that then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales force Lam to refocus her office's priorities.
 
That Cunningham would sign such a letter and be taken seriously while under investigation by Lam's office is absurd enough. But when the continued protestations weren't enough to throw Lam's office off the scent of the Cunningham corruption case, Issa pushed even harder. By 2006, he had graduated to providing false information to the AP about Lam's record, claiming that she had prosecuted only 6% of suspected immigrant smugglers.
 
The continued drumbeat from Issa and others helped to ensure that Carol Lam was among the U.S. Attorneys fired by the Bush Administration, news that was broken by Issa's office to local press. Even destroying Lam's career though wasn't enough to stop the Cunningham investigation, and later in 2007 Issa was left refusing a subpoena in the case -- ironic given his sudden love affair with his new subpoena power, but perhaps understandable since Issa received $4,000 from the same sources of Cunningham's bribes.
 
In the end, Cunningham was sentenced to more than eight years in federal prison, despite all the work put in by Issa, Cunningham and others to convince the White House to fire Cunningham's prosecutor. But we probably shouldn't expect an investigation into any of that either from Issa's committee. Just like putting those same foxes like Tim Griffin back in charge of the Judicial henhouse, in Issa's world, it's only partisan oversight of the other guys that matters.

2 comments

Reader Discussion

Yeah, Issa was a big defender of Duke Cunningham. I was hoping that there was a trail that would lead to him as well.  Issa has enough money of his own that he probably does not need the bribe money.

at 9:59 am on Wed, Jan 5, 2011Posted by Joe

Dear Congressman Issa,
I am thrilled that someone is finally going to be doing some investigations. I would like you to start with the outing of a CIA agent, then move on to investigate spying on citizens without a warrant, taking us to war (not declared by Congress) on a false premise, invading foreign countries, firing judges, why NORAD was told to stand down while we were being attacked on 9/11, torture, overpayment of military contractors and what happened to that $9 billion missing in Iraq. 
Thanks!  One of the reasons that Democrats stayed home was that none of this was investigated while they had the power.  The ball is in your court!

at 10:29 am on Wed, Jan 5, 2011Posted by Patricia Kobelin

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