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Mukasey appoints special prosecutor to probe U.S. attorney firings

Just hours after a report released Monday morning by the Department of Justice found “significant evidence” that the motivation behind the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 was political, Attorney General Michael Mukasey followed one of the report’s recommendations and appointed a special prosecutor to probe the matter.

Acting U.S. Attorney Nora R. Dannehy will investigate whether crimes were committed in connection with the removal of the U.S. Attorneys, Mukasey said today.

“The Report leaves some important questions unanswered and recommends that I appoint an attorney to assess the facts uncovered, to conduct further investigation as needed, and ultimately to determine whether any prosecutable offense was committed with regard to the removal of a U.S. Attorney or the testimony of any witness related to the U.S. Attorney removals,” Mukasey said in a statement announcing Dannehy’s appointment.

The report by DOJ Inspector General Glenn Fine and Office of Professional Responsibility Director H. Marshall Jarrett, which can be found here, stated that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will not face a grand jury over his role in the firings. It did note, however, that Gonzales “bears primary responsibility for the flawed U.S. Attorney removal process and the resulting turmoil that it created.”

“This was not a simple personnel matter that should be delegated to subordinate officials – it was an unprecedented removal of a group of high-level Department officials that was certain to raise concerns if not handled properly,” the report stated. “Such an undertaking warranted close supervision by the Attorney General, as well as the Deputy Attorney General [Paul J. McNulty]. Gonzales did not provide such supervision, nor did he ensure that the Deputy Attorney General provided the necessary oversight.”

More on the report here from Lawyers USA.

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