Tag Archives: Attorney General

Rumors Suggest Michael B Mukasey as Next Attorney General

Several sources are confirming that former Federal Judge Michael B Mukaseyis now Bush’s top choice to replace Gonzales. They suggest Bush may nominate him as early as tomorrow (Monday). The sources include William Kristol at the daily Standard.

Mukasey was included on our previous list of candidates being actively considered when we wrote Who’s Up Next to be Bush’s Attorney General?

Mukasey retired in September 2006 after almost two decades as a Federal Judge. He went back to his previous law firm, Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler. His listed areas of practice at the firm include litigation, white collar defense and investigations, media and entertainment and subprime mortgage.

The firm’s website states that:

During his 18 years of service – including six as Chief Judge – Judge Mukasey presided over thousands of cases, including such high profile trials as that of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 co-defendants, who were charged with plotting to destroy a number of New York City landmarks. He also presided over major cases involving the dispute between Larry Silverstein and his insurers concerning insurance proceeds related to the World Trade Center site and the Motion Picture Association of America’s ban on the distribution of new movies to critics and award panels, among many other notable cases.”

Mukasey’s vital statistics

BORN 1941 in the Bronx

Court, Southern District of New York 1987-2006, serving as chief judge from 2000 until retirement

EDUCATION Columbia University, A.B., 1963; Yale Law School,
LL.B., 1967

PROFESSIONAL CAREER Private practice, New York City, 1967-1972
Assistant U.S. attorney, Southern District of New York, 1972-1976 Chief,
Official Corruption Unit, 1975-1976 Private practice, New York City, 1976-1987
RESIDENCES Manhattan and East Hampton”

One interesting post giving insight into Mukasey is that done by Glenn Greenwald today and posted at salon.com entitled “Michael Mukasey’s role in the Jose Padilla case” Greenwald notes that Mukasey was willing to defy Bush and rule based on the law and not on terrorist fears and assertions by Bush without legal basis in the Padilla case.

“Judge Mukasey repeatedly defied the demands of the Bush administration, ruled against them, excoriated them on multiple occasions for failing to comply with his legally issued orders, and ruled that Padilla was entitled to contest the factual claims of the government and to have access to lawyers. He issued these rulings in 2002 and 2003, when virtually nobody was defying the Bush administration on anything, let alone on assertions of executive power to combat the Terrorists. And he made these rulings in the face of what was became the standard Bush claim that unless there was complete acquiescence to all claimed powers by the President, a Terrorist attack would occur and the blood would be on the hands of those who impeded the President. “

Greenwald reminds us however that:

There is no question that Judge Mukasey, a Reagan appointee who served as the Chief Judge for the Southern District of New York before retiring recently, is close to the far right on the judicial spectrum. He undoubtedly holds many legal and political views which most Democrats would find objectionable, perhaps even intolerable. But that will be true of any nominee Bush selects, and it is true of the current Acting Attorney General, Paul Clement, who will remain in place if no nominee is confirmed.”

Who’s Up Next to be Bush’s Attorney General?

Monday Bush’s damaged goods Attorney General Gonzales resigned with no one protesting or lamenting from either party. Any day now Bush could nominate a new candidate.

Here in Seattle the Seattle Times did a editorial supporting former conservative Washington State US Senator Slade Gorton who also served many years as Washington State’s Attorney General. David Postman reports that he is mentioned in a list by CNN.

We reported on some of the initial speculations of a possible successor. CNN reports that Larry Thompson is no longer being considered. Speculation is rife on Homeland Security Michael Chertoff while others speculate that the Hurricane Katrina fiasco dims his prospects considerably. Besides Gorton, they mention Ted Olsen, George Terwilliger, Lawrence Silberman, John Danforth and Asa Hutchinson.

The Washington Post on Wednesday reported that five names are under serious consideration at this time.

The effort to find a new Attorney General is being lead by Fred F Fielding – Bush’s White House Counsel and Joshua B Bolten – the White House Chief of Staff. They are trying to find people willing to step up to take over Bush’s battered Justice Department with its tattered image and credibility. They are trying to draft prospects and narrow the list down.

Currently under consideration according to the Washington Post:

Paul D Clement – is the current acting Attorney General and is the current Solicitor General for Bush. The Solicitor General is involved in cases before the US Supreme Court. Clement is a former clerk of Judge Silberman as well as Associate Justice Antio Scalia of the US Supreme Court. He is a staunch conservative, only 40 years old and a member of the Federalist Club. He was active in Bush vs Gore.

George J Terwilliger III – a former deputy Attorney General, he is a partner in White and Chase LLP in Washington DC. They note that “He was a leader on the legal team that represented President Bush and Vice President Cheney in the Florida recount of the 2000 Presidential election.”

Theodore B Olsen – was Bush’s Solicitor General from 2001 – 2004. You might call it payback for his efforts in getting the US Supreme Court to appoint Bush as President in 2000. On the Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher law firm’s website where he currently is, it says he “has argued 46 cases in the Supreme Court, including Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board and Bush v. Gore, stemming from the 2000 presidential election; prevailing in 75% of those arguments”
He is a member of the right wing judicial activist Federalist Society.

Michael B Mukasey – former chief judge of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York. Mukasey retired last year at age 65, citing financial considerations as one reason. He earned $165,000 per year. He rejoined his old law firm, Patterson, Belknap, Webb and Tyler where partners can make $1 million or more a year. DC JobSource lists cabinet level salaries as only slightly more than his salary as a judge. The AG job would be a salary jump of less than $20,000 to $183,500.

Lawrence H S Silbermansenior judge on the US Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit. First nominated to Court of Appeals by Ronald Reagan, went to Senior status in 2000. He is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown Law Center and a past visiting fellow for 8 years at the right wing American Enterprise Institute.

Silberman seems a questionable choice considering his background. As Salon has noted he “has been near the febrile center of the largest political scandals of the past two decades, from the rumored “October surprise” of 1980 and the Iran-contra trials to the character assassination of Anita Hill and the impeachment of President Clinton. Whenever right-wing conspiracies swing into action, Silberman is there.”

Kevin Philips has said, “In the past, Silberman has been more involved with coverups in the Middle East than with any attempts to unravel them.” Ralph Neas, president of the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way, calls him “the most partisan and most political federal judge in the country”

Four of the 5 names from the Washington Post were previously mentioned in a Wall Street Journal Law Blog post. The Washington Post added George Terwilliger III to the list.

Gonzales Jumps Ship, Who Will Replace Him?

Gonzales has jumped from Bush’s ship, swimming after Karl Rove. So will Bush appoint anyone better? What’s the drawing power of Bush these days to attract quality people?

The US Senate is the last line of defense against another unqualified candidate. Also the press must do its job by giving its investigative people freedom to scrutinize Bush’s nominee.

The New York Times mentions the names of 3 possible replacements:

Among those being mentioned as a possible successor were Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security who is a former federal prosecutor, assistant attorney general and federal judge; Christopher Cox, the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission; and Larry D. Thompson, a former deputy attorney general who is now senior vice president and general counsel of PepsiCo Inc. “

Michael Chertoff according to RightWeb

“is secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). A Harvard-trained lawyer who is also a member of the rightist Federalist Society, he served as special council to the Clinton-era Whitewater Commission and as assistant to former Attorney General John Ashcroft (see Chertoff’s DHS biography and “Mike Chertoff’s Dirty Little Secrets,” LA Weekly, January 12, 2005). As head of DHS and council to the Justice Department in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, Chertoff has been heavily criticized for his role in helping craft the Patriot Act, the Bush administration’s response to Katrina, and the administration’s controversial immigration reform agenda, including the effort to use more law enforcement elements to detain undocumented migrants. Chertoff has also been a vocal proponent of the “war on terror.”

Christopher Cox according to RightWeb was:

“a member of the House of Representatives for 17 years (R-CA), was confirmed as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission on July 29, 2005. During his tenure in Congress, Cox was a vociferous proponent of hardline security policies. He pushed for intervention in the Middle East, supported missile defense programs, and hyped intelligence threats to the United States. “

Larry D. Thompson according to BevNet joined:

“PepsiCo from the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., where he is a Senior Fellow. He is also a member of the board of directors for Delta Airlines. His government career includes serving in the U.S. Department of Justice, where his role as Deputy Attorney General included supervision of overall operations. In 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft named Mr. Thompson to lead the National Security Coordination Council. Also in 2002, President Bush named Thompson to head the Corporate Fraud Task Force. He led the Justice Department’s ongoing Enron investigation, and was responsible for corporate fraud investigations. ”

We all know just what a banner job Bush and the Justice Department did of going after Enron.
Both Chertoff and Thompson are members of the right wing Federalist Society which has been behind the Bush Administrations program of appointing right wing judicial activists to fill judicial appointments as well as other government appointments.

Chertoff is an unlikely nominee, considering his “role” in the Katrina botched response by the Bush Team.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has additional names and comments to the three already mentioned. They are Paul Clement, Jim Comey, Judge Lawrence Silberman, Patrick Fitzgerald, Michael Mukasey, Ted Olsen and Michael Luttig.

Patrick Fitzgerald is an intriguing possibility. He is the US Attorney from Northern Illinois appointed by Bush who became the Special Counsel in the Plame/CIA leak case that resulted in the conviction of I Lewis Libby Jr. Sounds just like what the Department of Justice needs right now- someone willing to pursue justice whatever the outcome.

True Majority is asking people to send letters to their Senators, asking them to do their job and scrutinize carefully whoever it is that Bush ultimately nominates to take over Gonzales’ old job. Most names mentioned so far are not any different from any of the other people Bush has appointed in the past – ones beholden to corporate America and right wing ideology above all else.