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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Dennis Hastert, Bobbing and Weaving

As we mentioned here before, Patrick J. Fitzgerald's term of office as US attorney ends in October, and the man whose recommendation lead to his appointment in the first place -- former Illinois Senator Peter Fitzgerald (oft confused but not related) -- says that pressure is mounting to get him the hell out of office:
"I'd be pleasantly surprised if Speaker Hastert recommended Patrick Fitzgerald for reappointment," the former senator said in a telephone interview, echoing comments he made in a WGN-TV interview Wednesday.

"But I'm beginning to sense that a lot of people, a lot of criminals, may hope that October brings them a new U.S. attorney in Chicago, one perhaps a little bit more malleable and acceptable to influence from leading Republicans and leading Democrats."
Dennis Hastert is now the top ranking member of the President's party in Illinois now that Peter Fitzgerald is gone (he chose not to run in 2004 and Obama won his seat), and it is traditionally on him to recommend who will get the job, a request with which the President usually complies. Hastert has consistently refused to answer questions about what he will do about Patrick Fitzgerald's future.

But now it looks like he doesn't want to be the one left responsible for sacking Fitzgerald while Preznit What Me Worry says "awe shucks it's out of my hands":
But officials with Hastert's office argued reappointment is a less formal process that will not involve the speaker.

"This is a decision that rests with the Bush Administration," Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said. "The speaker has chosen not to get involved in this matter and although he does not know U.S. Atty. Patrick Fitzgerald he believes that he is a qualified prosecutor."
Translation: This pig is leaking to the gunwales and I want off.

Digby and others have suggested that one exit strategy for BushCo. from the whole Traitorgate fiasco could come when Pat Roberts' committee holds hearing, and people like Rove and Libby can be granted immunity for their testimony. Another could presumably come when Patrick Fitzgerald suddenly finds himself the proud recipient of a red hot pink slip. Although his job in Illinois is distinct from the Plame investigation it is not clear how one would effect the other, since one of the ways of removing him is to "promote" him to some other post.

The Chicago Tribune article concludes:
A White House spokeswoman said no decision has been made, one way or the other, on reappointing Fitzgerald.
Well tie me up and call me Loretta. No shit.

Update: Josh Marshall writes that he thinks this is an attempt by Hastert to intimidate Fitzgerald, and that he might be the one to sack him. I think Josh got it wrong. I think Hastert's statement indicates he wants nothing to do with this, and if the President wants Fitzgerald canned he's going to have to do it himself. Maybe Hastert has a vision for a political career past the reign of the Cheney administration.