Count me among those that just doesn’t understand — at this very premature point — what all the mess about the U.S. Attorney firings is. Listening to Sen. Leahy on NPR this evening brought me to the same question that the reporter finally posed him: if you admit it’s the administration’s preogative to hire and fire U.S. Attorneys, then why the hubbub? Well, there of course is a potential problem, but the news that’s all over the ‘net, print, and airwaves at this point doesn’t facially evidence any actual wrongdoing. Professor Stephen Bainbridge of UCLA has a reasoned approach to the deafening roar (without bite so far):
Contra what some in the blogosphere seem to believe, US Attorney’s serve at the pleasure of the President and may be terminated either with our without cause at any time. In contrast, investigations and prosecutions aimed at furthering a prosecutor’s own career or those that are aimed at individuals or entities because of their political status are improper. Robert H. Jackson warned about the dangers that political considerations posed to the reputation of federal prosecutors as “dispassionate, reasonable and just.” Accordingly, both the ABA’s Standards Relating to the Administration of Criminal Justice and the Department of Justice’s United States Attorneys’ Manual declare that political considerations are inappropriate factors in a decision to investigate and charge a specific person. If the US Attorneys in question were fired because they refused to bring voter fraud cases against Democrats or because they tried to bring voter fraud cases against Republicans, for example, we have a serious problem.
Note the italics–there could be a problem, but despite all the talk, there’s just nothing there yet. It’s merely politics (so far).