Monday, June 25, 2007

ANOTHER Gonzales "Top Man" Resigns!

Boomp boomp boomp/
Another one bites the dust...

Third-in-Command at Justice Dept. Resigns
Mercer to Leave Washington Job but Keep U.S. Attorney's Position in Montana
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 23, 2007; Page A04

The Justice Department's third-in-command announced his resignation yesterday, becoming the sixth aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to leave amid the political uproar over the firings of nine U.S. attorneys last year.

What uproar?

William W. Mercer -- who had been acting associate attorney general since September -- withdrew his nomination for the job just days before he was scheduled to appear at a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing Tuesday...

Talk to Congress about why I’m the man for the job? Oh no, not that!

Mercer is among half a dozen officials who have fled the senior ranks at Justice in the wake of the prosecutor firings, which have prompted congressional and internal investigations and have led lawmakers of both parties to call on Gonzales to resign. Mercer's departure means that nearly all of Gonzales's top aides, including Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, have tendered their resignations within the past four months.

Jeez, it’s rainin’ senior attorneys over at the Justice Department these days. Who’s gonna be left to fight crime? Turn on the Bat-Signal!

Justice officials said Mercer made the decision to withdraw, based on his assessment of expected opposition from many Democrats and uncertain support from Republicans...

Boy, you can’t even count on Republicans anymore. Who knew?

Mercer told fired prosecutors in Arizona and Nevada that they were being removed in order to make room for other candidates, according to congressional testimony from the former prosecutors. Mercer also participated in a sarcastic e-mail exchange with a department colleague last July about then-U.S. Attorney Carol C. Lam of San Diego, in which he wrote she had a "hideous" record and had "ignored national priorities and obvious local needs."

Oh, they’ll miss Mercer. He was the office “cut-up.”

But Democrats were most critical of Mercer for spending much of his time in Washington over the past two years rather than in his permanent job as U.S. attorney in Montana. Mercer spent an average of three days a month in Billings, according to testimony. Montana's chief federal judge often criticized Mercer's absences and asked Gonzales to replace him. The attorney general refused and assured the judge in a November 2005 letter that Mercer's appointment was lawful.

“You mean I gotta LIVE in Montana if I’m the US attorney for Montana? No way, man. No way, your honor, I got connections in D.C., I’m changin’ the law--”

(On the same day Gonzales wrote the judge that Mercer’s appointment was lawful) Mercer instructed a GOP staff member to insert language into a USA Patriot Act reauthorization bill allowing federal prosecutors to live outside their districts to serve in other jobs, according to documents and interviews. The provision -- which retroactively applied to Mercer's tenure in Washington -- was passed by Congress last year. Lawmakers are considering legislation to repeal the measure.

“No way am I goin’ out to live in Montana, just because I’m US Attorney there. I’m not into sheep, man. I’m a political PLAYER, dude, I’m stayin’ close to Al... Oh, now you’re gonna make a federal case out of it, just because I changed the Patriot Act to keep me out of Montana? Okay, then, be that way. I’ll go back to goddam Montana. But I’m damned if I’m going to talk to Congress--I’d rather face a Saturday night in Billings than do that. I’ll learn to line dance or something, I’ll do the Boot Scoot Boogie in Billings, rather than talk to Congress on the record about how we run the Justice Department.”

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