60 Days

The WSJ has a profile of Nora Dannehy, the prosecutor Michael Mukasey picked to further investigate the US Attorney purge. It includes a bunch of details that might make you more confident the investigation will be thorough.

In her 17 years in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Connecticut, Nora Dannehy has sent a governor and a state treasurer to prison. Is she up for tackling such a lengthy and politically dicey investigation? Legal peers and former bosses say the long-distance runner is up to it.

“She’s stubborn as hell and very, very smart,” said William Gerace, who went up against Dannehy in the investigation of his client, Lawrence E. Alibozek, who as a deputy chief of staff for Gov. John G. Rowland was accused of taking payoffs. “She doesn’t play politics.”

Because of the litany of public corruption cases Dannehy, 47, has prosecuted, she has a reputation as a pitbull, say attorneys.

But it’s not so much the profile that ought to give you pause–it’s the detail that the investigation already has a due date: in 60 days.

Today, Dionne Searcey, the newest addition to the WSJ’s legal gang, delivers us some background on the career prosecutor, who will have to turn around her investigation in a mere 60 days: [my emphasis]

Or roughly December 1. In other words, after the election (so results of the investigation can’t further sink the Republican Party), but before the next President appoints his own Attorney General. Or, to put it differently, long before the inevitable battle over whether Harriet Miers and Karl Rove have to testify, and whether the Administration has to hand over their own secret timeline of the firings.

  1. Leen says:

    I am sure you must have seen the press conference with Senator Leahy, Whitehouse and Feinstein on the recent pick by Mukasey of Nora Donnehy

    Leahy’s comments

    Whitehouse sure hammered hard during that press conference

    At a press conference, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a former U.S. attorney himself, questioned the effectiveness of the investigation to be led by federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy. He said that it’s unclear whether Dannehy will have the power to subpoena White House officials, and whether her probe would focus narrowly on the question of whether a crime was committed by Gonzales and his deputies, rather than being able to look at a possible cover-up by the administration. Whitehouse asserted: “There is a cover-up, and it continues.”

    Whitehouse also singled out Mukasey for blame, noting that the DOJ’s own Office of Legal Counsel has not cooperated with the report. “If he’s willing to accept a White House cover-up, if he’s willing to accept the inspector general being hindered, then we, I think, should have further questions of the attorney general,” Whitehouse said.

    Link to the Senator Leahy, Whitehouse, Feinstein press conference

  2. JimWhite says:

    This stinks. I’m betting she’ll drink the Kool-Aide just like Mukasey and come back with a report that says everyone is fine and nobody should face charges.

    The question then becomes, if nobody is charged in her investigation, can’t Obama start a new investigation? Not double jeopardy if charges aren’t formally filed, right?

  3. Leen says:

    Listening to the Leahy, Whitehouse, Spector, Feinstein press conference again.

    When Leahy said “the administrations self serving secrecy shrouded” I added
    that to a list of tongue twisters

    When I hear Leahy and Whitehouse speak I have hope


  4. AlbertFall says:

    Bush wants to make sure he has a complete list of pardons before he walks out the door, to ensure that the obstruction of justice is complete.

  5. Arbusto says:

    With such a short leash, she’d use the investigators that contributed to the DoJ report, and they know where to pick up the trail. It sounds as though the stonewalling really pissed them off. The usual suspects will continue to stonewall or prevaricate, but if she has subpoena power the stakes are higher for these Regime thugs.

  6. Mary says:

    She could be Mother Teresa, Clarence Darrow, Joan of Arc, and a Hockey Mom complete with Cover Girl’s decade commemorative set of lipsticks, it doesn’t really matter.

    The big issue is the one Fitzgerald had and she’s in worse position and with less support than he had. She’s in house. In case no one noticed, Mukasey and OLC (even Comey if you look back to his exchange with Bush) have made it clear that non-lawyer, FISA felony soliciter, crazed ego maniacal frat boy Bush is the sole, final, and last word on what the “law” is within the department. Based on that, there’s no “there” there for the investigation of Bush decisions. And letting Mukasey put someone who has willingly and knowingly worked for tortureres for years now in charge – well, it’s not worth anything, is it?

    Anyone who truly valued the law over “playing politics” wouldn’t be voluntarily working for torturers for years. It’s not hard or complicated or shades of grey.

  7. Mary says:

    For those who have read the IGs report (and I haven’t even tried) I guess the one question I’ve never seen pursued and would like to know about is – were the firings done as provided for by Statute, i.e., by Bush.

    Was there a delegation from Bush or a final action by Bush on the decision. Do they even try to go there – or just leave it all in the swirl of trying to wrap in Rove?

    Because to me that’s the first and the last question – by statute only the President can fire USAttys. Bush’s immediate statements (directly or via his spokespersons) about the firings were that he was not involved, and that they couldn’t be laid at his door. Only later, after he got back to the country and had consultations with Fielding, did Bush himself shift over to the “they serve at my pleasure” position and when he did, no one seems to have gotten the specific follow up from him, “So Mr. President, does that mean you personally made the decisions to fire each of these attorneys despite your earlier statements that you were not involved? “

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Sixty day time limit? A classic adaptation of the Cheney Two-step, one step sideways, two forward, middle finger in your eye. The Eau de l’Addington is distinctive; without being seen, it wafts and lingers, coloring everything in the room: Mukasey picked a real prosecutor, then gave her a figurehead appointment, one so ringed by restrictions she couldn’t possibly fulfill what is expected of her.

    It will take Dannehy thirty days just to poach staff, unload her current assignments without undercutting their progress, and get confirmation what her budget is, if anything, so that she doesn’t overspend on those Greyhound bus trips to get to Metro DC to interview essential witnesses, and pay for all those nights at Motel 6 while doing it.

    Cheney is the mad bull: not content with dislodging the people and Congress from his back, he has to gore their backsides before they can scramble from the ring, so they know who’s boss. Matador Obama had better give serious thought to his AG. We don’t need a would be Cary Grant from Harvard or the U. of Chicago, we need a former street cop from the South Side who’s not afraid to prosecute the mayor or Frank Nitty.

    • Leen says:

      During that press conference Whitehouse hammered away at the Mukasey “restrictions” Will they (Whitehouse, Spector, Leahy) allow those “restrictions” to stand?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Congress will choose to be unable to do nothing about it before the election or the incumbency of the next president. So, yes, they won’t do anything about it. Complaining, while doing nothing to address the source of the complaint, is not behavior restricted to parenting, marriages, or the workplace. It’s a political twofer, railing against a wrong, while claiming to have no power to fix it. The electorate rarely points out the fallacy in that argument.

  9. radiofreewill says:

    This would be a good time for Shoeless Chuck to make amends and Do the Right Thing by Announcing he plans to Vote Contempt on the Mukasey-Protected Subpoena Evaders.

    Ever since Schumer sponsored Mukasey for AG, Mukasey has been a Loyal Soldier for Bush – protecting his Legal flank all the way out of Office. One thing Bush seems to be able to count on is Mukasey making certain that the Bush Administration doesn’t cop to anything self-incriminating.

    Congress is going to have to Assert Its Authority to Reach-In to the Administration – in the Name of the Law – and Compell Service to the Rule of Law above Loyalty to Bush. Surely Schumer can step up to that?

    Either that, or Mukasey will soon shuffle his way off stage, covering Bush, like Gene Wilder covering the Dancing Monster, Peter Boyle, off stage in Young Frankenstein.

    What’s it gonna be, Chuck?

  10. MadDog says:

    As I wrote back on the IG Report Working thread:

    It seems that many folks believe a “Special Prosecutor” was named by AG Mumbles Mukasey to further investigate.

    Folks like the AP:

    Attorney General Michael Mukasey has appointed a special prosecutor to pursue possible criminal charges against Republicans involved in the controversial firings of U.S. attorneys.

    (My Bold)

    But as far as I can see, that ain’t so.

    This is not a “Special” prosecutor in the manner of Pat Fitzgerald with plenary authority, but instead is just your “run-of-the-mill” US Attorney who must adhere to all the pecking order political oversight and control within the very same compromised Department of Justice that sits under the thumb of the White House and its Counsel’s Office that the very same prosecutor is supposed to investigate.

    And this too in that same thread:

    The salient point that I think the AP was falsely trying to convey, was that the appointment of Nora Dannehy as a “Special Prosecutor” meant that she would have “independence” to do all that was required.

    The false characterization of a “Special Prosecutor” that the AP used to show “independence” is exactly opposite of what Mumbles Mukasey was actually doing.

    Mumbles Mukasey was not after “independence”. He was after “control”.

    – Control over the timing to run out the clock,
    – Control over the parameters of the “investigation”,
    – Control over the tactics to be used,
    – Control over the “targets”,
    – Control over the “allowable witnesses”,
    – Control over the deference and privileges (executive, deliberative, etc.) allowed “certain” past and present White House and DOJ employees,
    – And on and on and on!

    The fact is that the AP told a great big lie, and one wonders just why.

    Even CREW thinks Dannehy is a “Special Prosecutor”:

    From those who know the new special prosecutor: “Alberto Gonzalez is in trouble.”

    Yesterday, Attorney General Michael Mukasey named Nora Dannehy as the special prosecutor, in the investigation of the firings of the U.S. Attorneys.

    So, my questions are – who cooked up this fairy tale that a “Special Prosecutor” has been named, and why?

  11. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Under the terms of her appointment, Dannehy will have to stop work on her current assignments, while getting nothing done to pursue crimes inside the DOJ. Bush calls that a Twofer. Mukasey’s appointment is like an obituary by Maureen Dowd: it’s not about the target of the investigation (or the guy who’s dead), it’s about protecting (or slamming) those left behind.

    In MoDo’s case, she reminisces about Paul Newman, from 1986, when she could still get dates and they didn’t feel a need to look under the bed for an ice pick. Then, as now, her personality is so well-balanced that she was in love with both Newman and William F. Buckley, which suggests a lot of experience taking uppers and downers together.

    Ms. Dowd picked 1986 not because it was relevant to Mr. Newman’s career (though he won an Oscar that year for the Color of Money), but because that’s when she last interviewed him, when he taught her “how to peel a cucumber”, presumably the training she needed to cover the Clinton presidency. Ms. Dowd may be expressing her Groucho Marxian love of cigars, but she is really telling us that she is such a Manhattan socialite that until 1986, she didn’t know how to make a salad. Which makes one wonder about her familiarity with bananas Foster, which requires adept peeling, flaying, then burning in brown sugar.

    Not content to admire the departed, Ms. Dowd lashes out at Mr. Newman’s liberalness, his “ranting” about Nixon, for example, then his wife, the talented Miss Woodward, whom she flails for declining to interview Ms. Dowd when the topic was her husband, adeptly making her seem petty for having her own brilliant career, while being unable to accept her husband’s. An attempted characterization at odds with the Newman-Woodward’s then thirty, now fifty-year marriage.

    It is Ms. Dowd who can’t live with herself. Which to choose, Paul Newman or Bill Buckley, balsamic vinegar or hydrochloric acid? As always, Ms. Dowd chooses the impossible as a way to avoid choosing herself. She is not a Tim Burtonesque alley cat, whose tongue can longer clean her fur because she’s lived too long behind the dumpster. She’s an old bear, unable to retract her claws or fangs, and they have grown so long she can’t use them without hurting herself as well as others.


      • Leen says:

        EOH just read that piece by Mdowd..y.

        “He said that he appreciated her, as he looked around his elegant Fifth Avenue apartment, observing dryly”

        Like a slap in Woodwards face. Creepy

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          More likely, it is not Paul Newman slyly digging at his wife’s taste and for reining in his boyish excesses; it is MoDo slapping everyone’s face, most of all her own, like an Opus Dei flagellant.

          Paul Newman is the marionette most readily at hand, his name, really, since he’s gone and can no longer object to her use of him (which he might have done, if she hasn’t sought, or her hasn’t given her, an interview for two decades). The name needed to pull in readers that would normally ignore her. Cool Hand Paul — a Dowd pun — cold, gray, clammy, but more comforting than Maureen’s.

  12. selise says:

    dodd now back on the senate floor to introduce his bill for the taxpayer sellout wall street bailout.

    and it’s official, i now regret donating to his presidential campaign.

    • Hugh says:

      dodd now back on the senate floor to introduce his bill for the taxpayer sellout wall street bailout.

      and it’s official, i now regret donating to his presidential campaign.

      Yes, he’s waxing quite eloquent about the credit crunch but I don’t see what the connection is between that and the crap piece of legislation he is prostituting himself for.

      Always a bad sign when a Democrat, and a supposed liberal at that, starts praising Mitch McConnell.

      • DWBartoo says:

        Well the d’s would LIKE to do the ‘right thing’, but they are all frightened, scared and probably being blackmailed, besides if they don’t suck up to Bu$h Co someything terrible is going to happen.

        Remember, Nancy Pelosi, herownself, has told us that we “don’t know the half of it.”

        It must be rather more than abundantly clear that the Political Class don’t give a rat’s rear-end about the people of this nation, the Constitution, or even the nation itself.

        The Political Class are firmly, and very, very comfortably, in the pocket of the Puling Class …

        And, believe it or not; The people get it.

        Whether the people will DO anything, having ‘gotten it’, is the question.

        The ‘upper’ Classes are gambling the people’s money that the people will do nothing.

        The upper Classes have nothing to lose by sticking it to the rest of us.

        The rest of us, …well …

        What do we have to lose?

  13. timbo says:

    The 60 days limit points to an attempt to pardon various personages prior to the next administration taking office. With only 60 days, it is unlikely that the prosecutor will find enough to charge anyone…and therefore, one can pardon without as heavy a price as if one pardon folks accused directly in indictments of crimes…aside from the Congressional Contempt problems for many. Still, it seems to me that this is calculated to make pardoning at the end of Bush’s term easier…while giving the appearance of investigating obvious crimes during the time Congress is campaigning for reelection.

    It is to be assumed that Congress would probably begin hearings on the IG report instantly if the DOJ did not appoint someone to look into possible criminal conduct and issue an “interim report” under an “interim” mandate.

  14. Ann in AZ says:

    To me, it’s obvious that Bush wants a complete list of who he must pardon while he still has time to pardon them and cover his tracks! Since when can a President or an AG whose own administration or department is under scrutiny for legal shenanigans put a time limit, much less one so short as 2 months, on a special prosecutor? And if they can, why didn’t Bill Clinton or his AG put one on Ken Starr? How many years did he persecute um, prosecute Bill Clinton?

  15. Mary says:

    11/29 – I think they can probably call her whatever they want and special prosecutor is as ok as anything else. There is no more true “independent” counsel status or legislation. There are a set of regulations that can be used for the AG to appoint an “outside special prosecutor”

    But even Fitzgerald didn’t really have anything that was all that special in his prosecutorial stance, other than in the Church Lady sense of, “isn’t that special.” As Fitzgerald and the court both acknowledged, the grant he had was subject to review, supervision, DOJ rules and regs (which would include being bound by DOJ interpretations of law I would think) and was revocable in whole or in part and subject to amendment at any time and from time to time.

    Unfortunately, no one ever seems to have nailed down whether or not DOJ did ever change that grant, either via Margolis or McNulty.

  16. bmaz says:

    Well, that is true, and Fitzgerald was consistently called a “special counsel”, in fabt that is what he and the DOJ called him. But, there are still, as you note, provisions for establishing a “special prosecutor” and none of these are that. I’m giving this one to MadDog on technical points!