Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty told senators earlier this month that all but one of the prosecutors were fired for “performance-related” reasons. McNulty said that former U.S. attorney Bud Cummins of Little Rock was removed so the job could be given to a former aide to presidential adviser Karl Rove.
Nearly all of the dismissed prosecutors had positive job reviews, but many had run into political trouble with Washington over immigration, capital punishment or other issues, according to prosecutors and others. At least four also were presiding over high-profile public corruption investigations when they were dismissed.
I actually think that the precise reason for the firings makes a big difference. It’s at least defensible for the administration to fire attorneys because they won’t seek the death penalty, for example. I disagree with the substantive priorities of the Bush administration, but they are entitled to hire people who will, within the law, follow them. If competent U.S. Attorneys are being fired for investigating corrupt Republicans, on the other hand, that’s appalling.