The Department of Justice sure isn't going out of its way to help President Bush's Supreme Court nominee, Judge John Roberts.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, by not unexpected contrast, has gone out of his way to make life miserable for the Department of Justice, from a seemingly infinite number of query letters to DOJ staff for minor bits of information that his staff then leaks to the media before the letters even arrive on Justice fax machines, to his abusive treatment of Attorneys General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales. For some time Leahy had also been agitating for a detailee from the Department to be added to his Senate staff (a common enough practice among federal agencies and congressional offices).
Last week the Department gave him one, Robin Ashton, deputy director of the Executive Office for United States Attorneys. The EOUSA oversees day to day management issues related to the 90-plus U.S. Attorney Offices across the country. Ashton was said by DOJ insiders to be a high-performing professional, but was not politically in tune with newer Republicans staffers to the EOUSA.
Ashton's loss may be the EOUSA's gain in the short run, but Republicans inside DOJ are concerned that now that she is freed from any sense of loyalty to her Department, she has inside information about the Bush Administration, potential dirt on U.S. Attorneys, as well as operational details about criminal and civil cases related to terrorism and corporate fraud.
"They never should have let her go, no matter how much she may have clashed," says a Senate Judiciary Committee staffer. "This is going to come back and hurt us. Maybe not on Roberts, but I bet Leahy is all over her and what she has in the mental databases."
Sen. Hillary Clinton's opposition research goons have already begun poring over the tax fraud prosecutions of Westchester County district attorney Jeanine Pirro's husband, Albert, who spent time in federal prison on tax-related charges back in 2000-2001.
Ironically, Albert Pirro's tax-cheat problems bring to mind the liberties Hillary and her hubby used to take in the governor's mansion and the White House when it came to political gifts and the like.
"Shame is not in the Clintons' DNA," says a longtime Democratic political operative. "They don't see a double standard in anything they do if it gets them a leg up politically."
Pirro is expected to give Clinton at least a competitive race, diverting the junior Senator's attention from other political matters she may want to pursue around the country.
But Pirro faces her own challenge: New York Conservative Party chieftain Mike Long, who opposes her entry into the primary.
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