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PATRIOT Act provision used to suspiciously replace another U.S. Attorney much earlier-- in March 2006

tom's picture

Wow. You should read this Salon story about the "election fraud" stuff being pushed by the Missouri GOP since 2000. You remember that night, don't you? The night that John Ashcroft lost to a dead man -- and Republicans insisted that it only happened because of election fraud?

BTW, among other nuggets in this story, did you know that the first attorney appointed using the new Patriot Act powers was much earlier -- in March 2006 -- in the western district of Missouri?:

But by then, the Bush administration had used a loophole in the Patriot Act to appoint Bradley Schlozman, who had supervised the voting section of the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ at headquarters in Washington, as Graves' successor in the Western District. The loophole was closed by a vote of the Senate on Tuesday, but in March of 2006 Alberto Gonzales was able to make Schlozman a U.S. attorney without seeking confirmation from the Senate.

The appointment, the first under the controversial Patriot Act provision, raised eyebrows at DOJ, one former senior Justice Department official told Salon. "Schlozman was one of Gonzales' guys," the former senior official said, "but several of us were scratching our heads when we heard about it because he was not a very well-regarded trial attorney."

Graves was apparently pushed out to make room for someone who would pursue these groundless accusations of voter fraud in Missouri.

But wait, it gets even better. Roy Temple posits that Graves also probably resigned because he WAS being investigated by Bud Cummins in the corruption probe of Missouri Republicans:

Free of context, this may seem inconsequential. But consider the timing; Graves announced his resignation on March 10, 2006. This is smack in the middle of the period during which U.S. Attorney for Arkansas's Eastern District Bud Cummins was investigating Governor Matt Blunt's award of fee offices to political supporters. Press accounts have indicated that Cummins' investigation of Missouri's license offices began in January of 2006, but there was no public recognition of the existence of such an investigation until April 2006.

In other words, Graves left the U.S. Attorney's office while the only people who knew anything of the fee office investigation were the United States Department of Justice its representatives, and those being contacted as part of the investigation. And, of course, the critical piece of the puzzle is Graves' role as a recipient of one of the patronage fee offices the award of which was the very thing being investigated by the Justice Department.

Simple logic would dictate to even the amateur sleuth that the intersection of Graves' departure with the fee office investigation is worthy of a much closer look. And the amateur would naturally have a number of very pertinent questions immediately spring to mind...

Just what did Bud Cummins find out about Todd Graves during the first two months of his investigation? Whatever it was, did he share his findings with his superiors at Main Justice in Washington DC --superiors who were already in the midst of figuring out how to get rid of and replace federal prosecutors?

Was whatever it was that Cummins unearted regarding Graves' connection to ethically problematic aspects of the Blunt fee office scheme enough to cause the folks at Justice in Washington to "encourage" Graves to vacate his office before things became difficult?

It isn't, after all, as though Graves left his prestigious law enforcement perch to engage in some other grand pursuit; he didn't leave the U.S. Attorney job to run for high office or to cash in with a high-priced partnership at a fancy white-shoe law firm, but rather joined up with a small law practice with fellow right-wing Republican Sen. Matt Bartle. Why leave the heights of one's profession on a moment's notice (Graves announced and was gone in a two-week span) with a thin good-bye rationale and only a second-tier backup plan? Sounds suspiciously like the path of someone who was forced out of a job.

Temple goes on to suggest that it might be a good idea to reopen the Fee Office corruption investigation

And if the front end of Cummins' fee office investigation was causing this level of upheaval and heartache for the Bush Department of Justice, an inquisitive detective might wonder, might there not be some chance that those same Justice officials advised their man Cummins to quit kicking over so damn many rocks, lest he find more with which the administration had rather not deal?

Is it not at least conceivable that Cummins, faced with having already done enough to cost a colleague and peer his job and the growing pressure of a politically minded DoJ leadership, might mail it in with reference to the rest of his fee office investigation?

The amateur might ask all these things, the spare-time gumshoe can do only so much. When the professionals start asking those questions, we may be in for quite a ride.

I think Roy's got a point here. If you remember from my earlier post, the fee office thing is likely what got Bud Cummins fired, despite all protestations to the contrary.

I think it would be very interesting to see what sort of pressure was being applied by certain Missouri Republicans regarding the firing of BOTH Bud Cummins and Todd Graves. Hey, folks on both Judiciary Committees, I'd suggest subpoenas for Roy Blunt, Kit Bond, and Jim Talent. I think it's time for them to answer questions on this matter.

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