In his post, Robert links to a post by Josh Marshall, which makes the case for why this scandal is important:
"Whoever's in power and however intense things get, most of us assume that the party in power won't interfere with the vote count. We also assume that the administration won't use the IRS to harrass or imprison political opponents. And we assume that criminal prosecutions will be undertaken or not undertaken on the facts.
Yes, there's prosecutorial discretion. And the grandstanding, press-hungry DA is almost a cliche. But when a politician gets indicted for corruption we basically all assume it's because they're corrupt -- or, given the assumption of innocence, that the prosecution is undertaken because the prosecutor believes their case is strong and that the defendent committed the crime."
An indictment is NOT a conviction. Incorrect assumptions by the public is NOT a reason to change anything, except possibly public misconceptions. Did we learn NOTHING from the Duke lacrosse case?
"What we seem to see are repeated cases in which US Attorneys were fired for not pursuing bogus prosecutions of persons of the opposite party. Or vice versa. There's little doubt that that is why McKay and Iglesias were fired and there's mounting evidence that this was the case in other firings as well. The idea that a senator calls a US Attorney at home just weeks before a federal elections and tries to jawbone him into indicting someone to help a friend get reelected is shocking. Think about it for a second. It's genuinely shocking. At a minimum one would imagine such bad acts take place with more indirection and deniability. And yet the Domenici-Iglesias call has now been relegated to the status of a footnote in the expanding scandal, notwithstanding the fact that there's now documentary evidence showing that Domenici's substantial calls to the White House and Justice Department played a direct role in getting Iglesias fired.
So what you have here is this basic line being breached. But not only that. What is equally threatening is the systematic nature of the offense. This isn't one US Attorney out to get Democrats or one rogue senator trying to monkey around with the justice system. The same thing happened in Washington state and New Mexico -- with the same sort of complaints being received and acted upon at the White House and the Department of Justice. Indeed, there appears to have been a whole process in place to root out prosecutors who wouldn't prostitute their offices for partisan goals.
We all understand that politics and the law aren't two hermetically sealed domains. And we understand that partisanship may come into play at the margins. But we expect it to be the exception to the rule and a rare one. But here it appears to have become the rule rather than the exception, a systematic effort at the highest levels to hijack the Justice Department and use it to advance the interest of one party over the other by use of selective prosecution."
Well said. Now that we have identified the problem, what shall we do to fix it?
It seems clear: We need more Congressional oversight into the Executive Branch. We will need to give Congress authority (i.e. advise and consent) over all presidential attorney appointments. That will make the president think twice before appointing anyone for strictly political reasons! It will also make him think twice before firing anyone too, because then he will have to appoint someone acceptable to Congress!
Of course, Congress will be able to do with the attorneys what they did with Bush's judicial appointments: filibuster until they are withdrawn. Which means he possibly won't be able to appoint ANY attorneys! Just think how much that would mean to an opposition party which likes to keep their hands in the cookie jar?
Do we REALLY want to give Congress more power? I will grant what Bush did was unethical, but there is a VERY good reason for the president to have this authority. If he misuses it, what happens? He will get plenty of indictments, but no convictions. He will tie up the judicial system with a bunch of frivolous prosecutions.
On the other hand, if the president does NOT have the legal power to pursue corruption in opposition parties, what is to stop Congress from giving itself more immunity than it already has?
Frankly, this is a case where the cure is far worse than the disease. Let the Media have their field day over this "scandal", but don't dare to ask what should be done to fix it.