Capitol Hill Blue reports that Bush was so livid that Attorney General Mukasey is pursuing the CIA tapes case investigation that he wanted to fire him. If he knew who Mukasey selected to lead a full-scale criminal investigation was he’d have gone into an apoplectic rage.
Even without the vast powers of a special prosecutor, federal prosecutor John H. Dunham could be a barbed harpoon in Bush’s side for the rest of his presidency and beyond. He’s the career prosecutor U.S. Attorney General Janet C. Reno appointed to investigate allegations that FBI agents and police officers in Boston had been in bed with the mob. Janet Reno!
When Reno appointed Dunham to investigate corruption in Boston she knew he would be unrelenting in uncovering the truth. He wouldn’t (and wasn’t) be deterred by political pressure. Whether she read this 2001 article praising him in The Hartford Courant or not she certainly knew that he would leave no rotting log unturned in the seamy underside of Boston mob’s corruption of law enforcement.
Capitol Hill Blue reports:
While the administration may put on a public face of cooperation, the White House will take a tough stance from prosecutors who will seek interviews with current and former administration officials who participated in a meeting where destruction of the videotapes was discussed.
White House insiders describe the President’s mood as “dour” and “resigned” to the implications of a Justice Department investigation but legal observers in Washington believe the administration can successfully stall the probe and doubt the effectiveness of an administration trying to examine its own criminal behavior. LINK
Dunham would have to be incredibly naive not to be aware of this, and I have little doubt he’ll build as bullet-proof a case as possible before he even gives the president an opportunity to block the testimony of his and Cheney’s closest aides. After all, Mr. Gonzales, when he was White House counsel; Harriet E. Miers, Mr. Gonzales’s replacement as counsel; David S. Addington, then counsel to Vice President Dick Cheney all are said to have discussed destroying the tapes between 2003 and 2005.
This is hitting as close as possible to Bush and Cheney personally.
As the investigation progresses it is always possible Bush will try to thwart it in an even more typical draconian way than trying to block testimony. We’ll soon learn whether Bush refuses to allow government witnesses to testify before the House Intelligence Committee who are scheduled to testify at a hearing scheduled for Jan. 16. My sense is that he couldn’t care less whether they are held in contempt of Congress.
Dunham’s investigation is another matter since he is working for the Justice Department and has the power to indict and prosecute.
If he gets too close to making a compelling case against administration officials Bush might demand Dunham be fired. This could lead to a mini-Saturday Night Massacre where Dunham’s immediate superior, acting deputy attorney general Craig S. Morford and Attorney General Mukasey himself resigns.
Assuming that the investigation moves past January 20, 2009 before indictments are handed down and trials begin, Bush won’t be in a position to grant clemency as he did for Scooter Libby.
I’ll leave it to the legal experts to determine whether he can issue January 19th pardons to officials who haven’t been indicted, let alone convicted.
While we may dream of him actually being indicted and tried for this or other crimes, I don’t think this is realistic. More likely is that if it can be shown he was informed of the plan to destroy the CIA tapes he’ll be an unindicted co-conspirator.
Even if a president can pardon himself in advance, he’d need to be convicted of something. There’s no way Bush can pardon himself in the eyes of history.