Monday, May 14, 2007


Some DoJ attorneys go where the crime is

The bank robber Willie Sutton, when asked why he robbed banks, was said (apocryphally) to have replied "because that's where the money is." But attorneys hoping to make a name for themselves only need to represent the White House, where crime is as plentiful as money in a bank.

C-Span recently televised a forum featuring three of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys. In the Q&A session there was discussion of the effect of the firings on the morale in the regional offices of the Justice Department (DoJ). No one had any concrete data on whether the scandal had increased the number of resignations or was having an impact on hiring. But there can be no question that top-notch attorneys are leaving the Justice Department—to move to the White House!

You see, the White House Counsel's office needs lawyers, and fast. And where can you find better lawyers than among the prosecutors at the DoJ?

Jason McLure reports

Alumni of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York are wont to tell anyone who'll listen that the office is home to the Justice Department's best and brightest.

White House counsel Fred Fielding apparently agrees, having just hired two additional former Southern District lawyers to help try to beat back a gathering storm of congressional subpoenas.

Joining Fielding's office is former organized crime prosecutor Michael Purpura, who will become associate counsel, and former corporate fraud prosecutor William Burck, whose title will be special counsel to the president. Both left Manhattan earlier this decade to take posts in Washington.1

Most recently, Purpura was a senior counsel to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, and Burck was a legal adviser to Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher in the Criminal Division and previously was deputy staff secretary at the White House.

At the White House Counsel's Office, they'll join another SDNY alum, Michael Scudder Jr., who was hired as associate counsel earlier this year.

Yes, sir. Experience in fraud and organized crime is definitely what you need if you're going to do a good job representing the White House.



1It looks as if these attorneys were among those who were violating federal law by working outside their districts.

Dan Eggen reported recently that—

On Nov. 10, 2005, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales sent a letter to a federal judge in Montana, assuring him that the U.S. attorney there, William W. Mercer, was not violating federal law by spending most of his time in Washington as a senior Justice Department official.

That same day, Mercer had a GOP Senate staffer insert into a bill a provision that would change the rules so that federal prosecutors could live outside their districts to serve in other jobs....

Congress passed the provision several months later as part of the USA Patriot Act reauthorization bill, retroactively benefiting Mercer and a handful of other senior Justice officials who pull double duty as U.S. attorneys and headquarters officials. Justice officials say the measure was a necessary clarification to ensure that prosecutors could fill temporary postings in Washington, Iraq and elsewhere, and that it also applies to assistant U.S. attorneys.

Violating the law while serving as a U.S. attorney is another great qualification for working at the White House. [back]

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