Gonzales uses US Attorney appointment power that Congress banned
In a Senate Judiciary Committee business meeting Thursday morning, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) revealed that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales once again used an interim appointment authority at the heart of the US Attorneys controversy that Congress banned in a bill sent to the President for signature on June 4.
"Senator Feinsteinís U.S. Attorney bill....repeals that portion of the Patriot Act Reauthorization that had allowed the Attorney General to circumvent advice and consent with respect to U.S. Attorneys. That bill, the Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007, has been on the Presidentís desk since June 4. It seems he just cannot bring himself to sign it. Instead, we were informed yesterday through the Justice Department that the Attorney General has used the power that we have voted to repeal, again," said Senator Leahy, the committee's chairman.
Tracy Schmaler, a spokeswoman for Senator Leahy, clarified the situation in an e-mail to RAW STORY.
"It just so happens the committee got notice yesterday, that on June 16, George Cardona's 210 days as Acting U.S. Attorney in the Central District of California will have run out and the Attorney General will appoint him as an interim U.S. Attorney at that time. (i.e. still using the end-run authority because Bush has slow-walked signing the bill)," she wrote.
RAW STORY could not reach the Justice Department for comment at press time.
On June 4, the Congress sent S. 214, the Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007, to President George W. Bush. The bill overturned a measure stealthily passed by the Republican-led Congress in 2006 that allowed the Attorney General to indefinitely appoint US Attorneys on an interim basis. Critics said the provision was intended to do an end-run around the standard Senate confirmation process for US Attorneys.
The bill passed the Senate by a 94-2 margin on March 20, and also cleared the House of Representatives by a 306-114 vote on May 22. The President has yet to sign or veto the bill.