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Experts on U.S. Attorney Firings

UCR Experts Comment on Developments in the U.S. Attorney Firings

Political scientists Shaun Bowler and John Cioffi can field media questions about the issues that gave this scandal legs in Washington D.C.

(March 16, 2007)

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — — It’s legal, even expected, so how come Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is on the hot seat for the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys? University of California, Riverside professors can add their insights to media reports delving in to the issue.

Was it bad timing — attempting this after Democrats seized control of both houses of Congress? Was it the unseemly trail of e-mails among justice department officials revealing misleading statements by Gonzales and other White House officials? Or was it one more example of what critics have called a ham-handed Presidential administration putting politics before governance.

  • Shaun Bowler, professor of political science — is the author of “Demanding Choices: Opinion Voting and Direct Democracy,” with Todd Donovan, University of Michigan Press (1998). “Apparently the Secret Service has the phrase ‘taking a bullet for the President’ and it's looking like that's being amended to ‘Taking a bullet for Karl’.”
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  • John Cioffi, assistant professor of political science — studies law and political economy, and teaches Constitutional law. The firing of eight U.S. Attorneys and the allegations that it was done for political reasons rise above the typical Washington scandal for three reasons, according to Cioffi.

    First, it reaches to the top of the Bush Administration — to the Attorney General, to presidential adviser Karl Rove, and possibly to the President.

    Second, the potential scope of the scandal and the specter of a pattern of obstruction of justice, violating the spirit if not the letter of the law, makes it politically explosive.

    Third, this particular purge threatens the foundations of the rule of law in the United States as it raises suspicions that partisan priorities drive criminal investigations and prosecutions.

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