Friday, January 27, 2006

An Odor of Fishiness

The New York Times reports that Noel Hillman - the Justice Department's top prosecutor working on the Jack Abramoff lobbying investigation - will remove himself from the investigation next week ... because he's been nominated by the president for a federal judgeship.

Ummmm ...

Bush administration officials told the Times that Hillman's nomination is "routine" (it was one of fifteen made yesterday). Setting aside the large question of whether nominations to fill seats on the federal bench ought to be considered "routine," the timing of this particular nomination, well, let's just say it's a little fishy. In fact, it downright reaks. Will Patrick Fitzgerald's name be on a similar list in a few weeks?

I would very much like to believe the Administration's averrals that Hillman's elevation to federal judge has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he's right smack dab in the middle of a major investigation which may have very severe consequences for several members of Congress and high-level administration officials. But, to be frank, over the last five years the Bush White House has given me no reason to believe what they say on just about any subject under the sun, leading me to conclude that this nomination at this moment bears the hallmark of the time-worn "if you can't fire 'em, promote 'em" strategy.

Although I suspect I've probably done it before, I will do it again this morning: it is time for an independent special prosecutor to be made head of the Abramoff investigation and all of its subsidiaries. The sooner all of the dirt comes out, the better, as far as I'm concerned. Bob Ney almost certainly disagrees with me, but that's his fish to fry.


At 3:41 PM, Blogger Lex said...

Josh Marshall points out that the New Hampshire phone-jamming investigation really dragged on until the case went to Justice's Public Integrity Section under Hillman, at which point everything caught fire.

That right there is reason enough to be concerned.

At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Charles Amico said...

I support the calling of an independent special prosecutor too. Where are the Republicans on this one. It is obvious that if they let this slide they are complicit too.

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Phil S said...

Jeremy and Charles are right-time for an independent prosecutor; but don't hold your breath on that happening!! Truth is, the Republicans know this is big, and they want too keep things as they are--nice and lowkey!!

At 1:53 PM, Anonymous Paul Wartenberg said...

There's evidence the Bush admin did this before: promoting an investigating attorney into a judgeship as a way of ending or stalling that investigation. The person investigating Abramoff in 2002 regarding something in Guam got a judgeship offer that ended that investigation.
What worries me is, if this nomination is mandatory or if Hillman honestly accepted the offer. Doesn't Hillman realize his job isn't entirely finished with guys like Ney and DeLay still unindicted for their documented involvement with Casino Jack?


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