Let’s stipulate that in any normal administration AG Gonzales would have committed the firing error weeks ago. To be fair, in a normal administration the idea a president tapping his own lawyer as AG would have been a firing error in itself. Recall the endless hysterics from rightwingers over Janet Reno’s insufficient independence. Where have you gone, Lucianne Goldberg?
So much for normal times. Given our unique circumstances I would avoid claiming a la Josh Marshall that dumped documents revealing Gonzales’s second clear lie to Congress (after his claim that politics had nothing to do with the firings) will be the straw that broke Alberto’s back. As I see it the administration cannot just tap any old qualified lawyer for Gonzales’s job. Given the weight of bad acts bubbling just under the surface, even John Ashcroft might not have enough partisan reliability for the job (recall the trouble he caused when he refused to snuff or slow-roll the Plame leak). They really can’t afford to accidentally tap a Souter or, god forbid, Stuart Bowen. Finally the candidate has to want the job, which means he will need a very weak grasp of legal jeopardy. Alberto will only step aside when and if the right
patsy candidate shows his face.
On a side note Josh also quotes the NYT:
Department officials said there had not been an intentional effort to delay the release of the new material. Instead, they said, the e-mail messages were overlooked in past searches of office files and computers. Many, they said, were copies of e-mail that had already been disclosed. The latest batch of documents shows just how completely the department misjudged what the reaction would be to the dismissals.
Really. The DOJ just accidentally released the more innocuous emails on a Monday, stringing the (relatively) good news over a week. Then they “discovered” the meatier stuff just in time to dump on Friday afternoon, ensuring that the news will disappear into Saturday papers that nobody reads. Surely just a coincidence.