DOJ Official Offers Explanation for Firings of U.S. Attorneys

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This comes from reporter Silla Brush, live from the Capitol:

In the second game of a legislative doubleheader, a House Judiciary subcommittee has six former U.S. attorneys on hand plus the principal associate deputy attorney general, William Moschella, to explain the situation leading to the end of their tenures.

Moschella was asked under oath to outline the reasons for each of the attorneys being asked to leave, a public version of closed-door briefings last month and yesterday. Carol Lam, the U.S. attorney in San Diego who prosecuted the case of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, was asked to resign, Moschella said, because of inadequate numbers of prosecutions for violent gun crime cases. Moschella said Lam, who was sworn in on Nov. 18, 2002, had the lowest number of such prosecutions of all but two other districts: Guam and the Virgin Islands. (According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC), which independently records this information, Lam initiated 16 weapons cases in 2006 and eight in 2005.)

Moschella also said that there were inadequate numbers of prosecutions for illegal immigrants, a point seconded by Rep. Darrell Issa, the California Republican who represents a district covered by Lam, who prosecuted 1,715 immigration cases in 2006, down from a peak of 2,887 in 2004, according to TRAC.

In response, the communications director for the House Democratic Causcus, Sarah Feinberg, said, "It is important to note that former U.S. Attorney Carol Lam's office ranks second in immigration prosecutions, and is in the top ten in the nation in prosecuting FBI cases. Violent crime rates fell in San Diego under Lam's leadership. Violent crime rates also fell in other areas of the country under the leadership of the fired U.S. Attorneys."

Moschella went one by one for the six former attorneys present.

The list of attorneys asked to leave was drawn up at DOJ, Moschella said, starting in October. Eventually, the list was sent to the White House. Moschella described a small group of Justice Department officials who drew up the list, including the chief of staff to the attorney general and the White House liaison.

Etc.: Congress Probes Departure of U.S. Attorneys, on USNews.com