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Ashcroft: Special Prosecutor Needed

October 13th, 2003

No, of course he didn’t say that about the Bush White House. He would never do that. It’s only when there’s a liberal in office that we have to do that.

On October 4, 1997, when Al Gore was accused of using a White House telephone instead of a private telephone to make fundraising calls, Ashcroft demanded a special prosecutor. Why? A law was violated. Well, a much more important law was violated in the Bush White House. Ashcroft also said a special prosecutor was needed because there’s a conflict of interest–only because Janet Reno and Al Gore were in the same administration. But in the current case, the focus of the investigation is someone who not only worked with Ashcroft, but also is the man who got Ashcroft his job. That’s not a conflict?

Here’s the quote:

ASHCROFT: The truth of the matter is that if the law’s been violated, we should be able to ascertain that. We can, if we have an independent person without a conflict of interest…

ROWLAND EVANS: …The attorney general has shaved down all the allegations that Vice President Gore apparently down to one single allegation — which telephone he used to make these fundraising calls from. Do you really think that alone is worthy of a special prosecutor?

ASHCROFT: …you know, a single allegation can be most worthy of a special prosecutor. If you’re abusing government property, if you’re abusing your status in office, it can be a single fact that makes the difference on that.

So my own view is that there are plenty of things which should have caused [Attorney General Janet Reno], a long time ago, to appoint a special prosecutor, an independent investigator. We asked for that on March the 13th of this year in letters from Republican members on the Judiciary Committee. And she’s in a bad position…

…The man who signs her check is the man that she’s investigating, and she hasn’t been very aggressive about it.

Again, what we have here is outright hypocrisy. Or, as Paul Krugman writes in his latest column, the Republican concept that Democrats should be held to far higher standards than Republicans themselves. We had 8 years of massive partisan attacks by Republicans against Clinton, but now we’re tired of that and Democrats should lay off Bush. Republicans demanded special prosecutors whenever someone in the Clinton administration so much as got football tickets in a way the GOP didn’t like, with Republicans abusing the special prosecutor law and the justice system as well to unbelievable extremes, but now, even with an obvious crime far worse than anything that Clinton was even accused of and with blatant conflicts of interest, Republicans are criticizing Democrats for even suggesting a special prosecutor.

Let’s dispense with the pleasantries, shall we? There is massive hypocrisy in play here on the part of the GOP, even as they try to falsely smear the Democrats with that same charge for having the gall to want a special prosecutor in this one, extreme case.

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