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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Missing The Point, Big Time

by digby

As I as read all the blaring headlines about Karl Rove's involvement in the US Attorney cases, I can't help but be reminded of Glenn Greenwald's interview with Chuck Todd, political director for NBC News in which he brought it up as an example of how silly we little purists (those who view the system from 30,000 feet) are for insisting that the rule of law applies to politics just as it applies to the rest of us:

Chuck Todd: Look at the US attorney thing. What did we find out during this whole US attorney scandal? There was no doubt the White House, the previous White House was trying to play politics with US attorney selections. That has been proven. Except what did we also find out - it was perfectly legal. Now, this is a case of where you're mixing the politics and, and look, President Obama now is nominating US attorneys, some of whom are political favors.

GG: Well, what was perfectly legal, to fire prosecutors who either prosecuted Republicans or refused to prosecute Democrats? It turned out it was legal?

CT: Unfortunately, it turned out it was perfectly legal.

GG: Who said that? Who said that?

CT: Because they serve at the pleasure of the president.

GG: There's lawsuits--

CT: They serve at the pleasure of the president.

GG: Chuck. First of all, the question of whether or not crimes were committed in the US attorneys case is still a pending matter before several federal courts.

CT: And I believe it should be investigated--

GG: There are laws in place that say, it is a crime to obstruct prosecutions for political reasons. If Karl Rove is in the White House directing that prosecutors who prosecute Republicans, or who refuse to prosecute Democrats, be fired, that is a crime. That's not--

CT: Wait, now you conflating what I said. What I'm saying is that the aspect that he could just, the White House could just fire US attorneys at will - that was perfectly legal.

GG: But the question is whether the--

CT: The question is whether they fired them at a time when it actually, that is what is being investigated and should be investigated.

GG: And if there are crimes that were committed, they should be prosecuted?

CT: And I think - and this is something see more from the legal community - this issue of US attorneys being political appointees, is probably something that needs to be taken up, because I think it's fraught with peril, and fraught with the potential for abuse.

I think it's pretty clear that he didn't realize that the issue in the scandal wasn't whether the president had the right to fire US Attorneys but whether the White House used the Department of Justice for political purposes. In fact, I think it's clear he really didn't know the difference. To Todd the whole controversy was about cronyism. How can someone in his position misunderstand something so fundamental?

He must be very confused by all the hoopla in the papers. After all, it was all perfectly legal. What's the problem?