“I commend the hard work and collaboration of the Justice Department’s Offices of Inspector General and Professional Responsibility on today’s report concerning the removal of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006.
“The Offices of the Inspector General and Professional Responsibility dispelled many of the most disturbing allegations made in the wake of the removals. However, the Report makes plain that, at a minimum, the process by which nine U.S. Attorneys were removed in 2006 was haphazard, arbitrary and unprofessional, and that the way in which the Justice Department handled those removals and the resulting public controversy was profoundly lacking. It is true, as the report acknowledges, that an Administration is entitled to remove presidential appointees, including U.S. Attorneys, for virtually any reason or no reason at all. But the leaders of the Department owed it to those who served the country in those capacities to treat their careers and reputations with appropriate care and dignity. And the leaders of the Department owed it to the American people they served to conduct the public's business in a deliberate and professional manner. The Department failed on both scores.
“Today's report is an important step toward acknowledging what happened, and holding the responsible officials to proper account. I hope the report provides a measure of relief to those U.S. Attorneys whose reputations were unfairly tainted by the removals and their aftermath. They did not deserve the treatment they received.
“The Report leaves some important questions unanswered and recommends that I appoint an attorney to assess the facts uncovered, to conduct further investigation as needed, and ultimately to determine whether any prosecutable offense was committed with regard to the removal of a U.S. Attorney or the testimony of any witness related to the U.S. Attorney removals. In the normal course, a report recommending further investigation would not be released until after the investigation and any resulting prosecution had been completed, for fear that disclosing publicly relevant facts and witness statements would hinder the investigation or prosecution. In this instance, the Offices of Inspector General and Professional Responsibility have made the judgment that the circumstances warrant a departure from this usual practice.
“The Justice Department has an obligation to the American people to pursue this case wherever the facts and the law require. This investigation would ordinarily be conducted under the supervision of either the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia or a Department component. However, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia has been recused from the matter, and I have determined that, given the nature of the matter, it would be best overseen by an attorney outside Main Justice.
“Therefore, I have asked Nora Dannehy to exercise the authority of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia for purposes of this matter. In that capacity, Ms. Dannehy will report to me through the Deputy Attorney General. Ms. Dannehy is a well-respected and experienced career prosecutor who has conducted or supervised a wide range of investigations and prosecutions during her lengthy career, and I am grateful to her for her willingness to serve in this capacity.
“This Report describes a disappointing episode in the history of the Department. What should not be lost in this are the efforts of the dedicated and hard-working employees of the Justice Department who are focused on what they do best, which is protecting our country and faithfully enforcing our laws."
A biography of Acting U.S. Attorney Nora R. Dannehy may be viewed at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/ct/usattorney.html.
Report of an Investigation into the Removal of Nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006