Last June, former Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay went to Washington D.C. to provide eight hours of testimony to the Office of the Inspector General. The Inspector General was investigating the reasons why eight U.S. Attorneys were fired.
As with the Fitzgerald investigation, this investigation has been hampered by a (former) senior Bush administration official lying. And we may have another high-profile perjury and obstruction of justice case in the works:
An investigation might be finished as early as next month, and then the U.S. inspector general might recommend criminal prosecution of departed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the fired former U.S. attorney for Western Washington told a Spokane audience Friday.
[…] McKay said he believes he and seven other U.S. attorneys were fired last December by Gonzales for political reasons, perhaps with former White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove pulling strings.
Career prosecutors in his office and FBI agents agreed there was no reason to go forward with a federal investigation of the Gregoire-Rossi election, and issues associated with it were more properly addressed by state officials, McKay said.
Gonzales “lied about” reasons for the firings when questioned under oath in July by the Senate Judiciary Committee, McKay said.
The White House said McKay was fired for poor performance ratings of his office, but the former U.S. attorney said he and his office got exemplary reviews just three months before he was fired.
“The chief law enforcement officer for the United States should not lie under oath,” McKay told the bar association.
An interesting part of this story is the likely role played by the Washington State Republicans:
In the weeks following the 2004 gubernatorial race, [Washington State Republican Party Chair Chris] Vance said Republicans were “angry and frustrated.” Republican Dino Rossi held narrow leads after the initial count and the first recount, but Democrat Chris Gregoire won by 129 votes after a second recount. Vance wanted to deliver that message of frustration to McKay.
Vance said he talked about the governor’s race frequently with Glynda Becker, the western states’ contact in Karl Rove’s political office at the White House. Vance said he didn’t remember if McKay was discussed.
Democratic claims that Rove was running the Republican effort to ensure Rossi won weren’t true, Vance said, though he said the White House knew what was going on.
Becker recalled the phone calls from Vance and “every other Republican activist from Washington state” and said while McKay’s name might have come up she couldn’t remember the context.
Others who spoke to Becker about the governor’s race included Tony Williams, a one-time chief of staff to former Washington Republican Sen. Slade Gorton, who advised the Rossi campaign.
Following the 2004 election, frustrated and angry state Republicans complained to Karl Rove’s office that the U.S. Attorney wasn’t investigating—what they perceived to be—election fraud. They didn’t have evidence for election fraud, of course, but that didn’t stop them from claiming it…over and over and over again. In the world of politics, you can make somebody believe something by repeating it often enough; but, that dog don’t hunt when it comes to the world of evidence and logic in the justice system. Even so, the state Republicans launched a high-profile law suit in which, Dale Foreman opened the GOP case by claiming, “[t]his is a case of election fraud.” After six months of investigations and millions of dollars spent on each side, the lawsuit was dismissed. There was no election fraud.
One legacy of the GOP lawsuit is that the false allegations managed to shake voter confidence in our elections process. But the problem with exercising bad-faith political smears is that they can come back to bite you in the ass. So it is only fair to give the Washington state GOP a little bit of credit for the months of political mayhem surrounding Gonzogate.
An even bigger political flap will arise should Gonzales be prosecuted for lying. (And given that the trial could take years, I suspect George Bush will, before leaving office, simply pardon Gonzales.) This, too, will become part of the GOP legacy from the Washington state gubernatorial election contest.
Hey…karma is a bitch!