Getting down to business on the U.S. Attorney scandal

GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS ON THE U.S. ATTORNEY SCANDAL…. Back in September, Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed Nora Dannehy, a career federal prosecutor, to pursue possible criminal charges against Republicans involved in the U.S. Attorney purge scandal. The move followed the recommendation of the Justice Department’s inspector general, who found that “serious allegations involving potential criminal conduct have not been fully investigated or resolved.”

We haven’t heard too much about Dannehy’s efforts since the announcement, but it appears she’s hard at work and taking the controversy seriously, albeit quietly.

A prosecutor who is investigating the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys has been meeting with defense lawyers, dispatching subpoenas and seeking information about the events, according to legal sources familiar with the case. […]

By naming a federal prosecutor to determine whether crimes have been committed, the attorney general ensured that authorities would have the power to compel testimony and documents. Dannehy, a longtime assistant U.S. attorney in Connecticut, in recent weeks has met with lawyers and government officials involved in the case. A grand jury in the District has issued subpoenas, the sources said.

The requests for documents could provoke another legal skirmish in a fight over the scope of executive power wielded by the Bush administration.

The Washington Post piece noted that D. Kyle Sampson, Alberto Gonzales’ chief of staff until his March 2007 resignation, “recently took a leave from his job as a partner” at a major law firm. This may or may not be related to Dannehy’s investigation, but it’s worth remembering that the Justice Department’s Inspector General report concluded that Sampson’s testimony was “not credible” and “unpersuasive.”

Bush’s presidency may be just about over, but the investigation into one of his biggest domestic scandals isn’t. Stay tuned.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.