A FEW GOOD MEN. Speaking in a public forum held today at the Seattle University, three of the eight ousted U.S. attorneys said they believe charges against senior Justice Department officials may result from the their firings and indicated that a special prosecutor will be needed to sort out exactly what went down.
John McKay, the former U.S. attorney for western Washington and now a professor of law at the university, hosted the forum along with fellow fired attorneys David Iglesias and Paul Charlton. The event was titled "U.S. Attorneys: Roles and Responsibilities," and focused on both the legal and political context of the firings and the long-term effects of the scandal.
The three former U.S. attorneys said they believe that the call for their dismissal came directly from the White House. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to say that," Iglesias told the crowd of mostly law students and press. But they said they think the firings were a matter of partisan loyalty and not part of a more specific political plan.
"I think there's a tendency when something happens that you can't explain to want to logically explain why someone would want to do that. That presupposes a plan and competency," said McKay. "I never detected a coherent plan. Here's where I think the problem is, and I think it's a more basic issue, and that is not to centralize control with competent people Washington, D.C., who will substitute their judgment on a death penalty case for Paul Charlton's or who will tell David Iglesias exactly how many immigration cases he should prosecute out in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I think that we are seeing the ascendancy of the personal loyalty to the president test being imposed on people."
Even with much of the "why" still left unknown at this point, enough evidence of wrongdoing has taken place in the case to merit a special prosecutor, McKay said later in the discussion.
"There is enough evidence to indicate that something at least very inappropriate occurred," said McKay. "People need to be held accountable for what occurred here in an appropriate fashion."
All three of the attorneys affirmed their belief that even if the Justice Department isn't working, the greater system of justice will bring to light who and what was behind the firings.
"I have faith in this system. I think ultimately the truth will come out," said Iglesias. "This entire process has made me a lot more bipartisan in nature."