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If nothing else, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) has chutzpah. In response to news that the Department of Justice will bring no charges resulting from its probe of the IRS’ handling of non-profit “social welfare” groups, Issa demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder remove lead investigator Barbara Bosserman for the offense of having donated to Democratic candidates and causes in the past. That’s a pretty shocking charge for the car thief turned congressman to make. After all, Darrell Issa was one of the key players behind the Bush administration’s infamous purge of U.S. attorneys, a group which happened to include Dubya mega-fundraiser and Karl Rove favorite, Chris Christie.

That history makes Issa’s furious letter to Holder all the more pathetic. A trial attorney for the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Bosserman, he charged, had previously donated $6,750 to the DNC and the Obama campaigns between 2004 and 2012. That, he insisted, should disqualify her from any investigation of how the IRS handled the political spending of “social welfare” groups, left and right. As his committee website sums up Issa’s accusation:

“By selecting a significant donor to President Obama to lead an investigation into the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups, the Department has created a startling conflict of interest,” the letter states.

“It is unbelievable that the Department would choose such an individual to examine the federal government’s systematic targeting and harassment of organizations opposed to the President’s policies,” the letter continues. “At the very least, Ms. Bosserman’s involvement is highly inappropriate and has compromised the Administration’s investigation of the IRS.”

Please read below the fold for more on GOP name calling.

Of course, Darrell Issa had his history of highly inappropriate conduct when it comes to the work of DOJ prosecutors. Back in 2007, Issa almost single-handedly drove the firing of U.S. Attorney Carol Lam over specious claims that she failed to rigorously pursue immigration cases. As you may recall, Lam was the San Diego-based prosecutor who tried and convicted former Congressman Duke Cunningham. Yet Lam was eventually sacked, as TPM concluded, "despite the fact that no one from the Justice Department ever confronted Carol Lam over her performance on immigration prosecutions."

Lam was far from alone. All told, nine prosecutors were axed in a Bush administration purge orchestrated by Karl Rove. Most, like David Iglesias, were fired for not pursuing bogus voter fraud cases. (Among those who barely survived Rove’s retribution was Chicago prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who was almost sacked even as he was conducting the Plamegate investigation against Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby.) In 2010, a probe by Bush’s handpicked prosecutor Nora Dannehy concluded, “Evidence did not demonstrate that any prosecutable criminal offense was committed with regard to the removal of David Iglesias.”

One Bush U.S. Attorney whose job was never in jeopardy was Chris Christie. Christie, after all, had begun assisting George W. Bush’s presidential campaign in 1999. As the AP recounted in 2009:

Christie, a lawyer who lasted just one tumultuous term in county government and figured he was finished with elected office, became Bush's campaign lawyer in New Jersey and then U.S. attorney after Bush won …

Christie was taken to Austin in early 1999 by his law partner, lobbyist Bill Palatucci, who had run George H.W. Bush's New Jersey campaigns in 1988 and 1992.

When the younger Bush decided to run, he asked Christie to be his lawyer in New Jersey. Together, Christie and Palatucci raised about $350,000 for Bush and the national Republican Party — enough to become members of Bush's Pioneer Club of supporters nationwide who raised at least $100,000 for him.

As the New York Times reported in 2007, “Palatucci, a Republican political consultant and Bush supporter, boasted of selecting a United States attorney by forwarding Mr. Rove the résumé of his partner, Christopher J. Christie, a corporate lawyer and Bush fundraiser with little prosecutorial experience.” It’s no wonder the Newark Star Ledger called Christie’s elevation “a patronage appointment, plain and simple.”

As U.S. Attorney, Christie tried and failed to nail New Jersey Democratic Governor Jim McGreevey and Senator Robert Menendez on corruption charges. But in Alabama, Karl Rove had much more success in the case of Democratic Governor Don Siegelman. As CBS' 60 Minutes reported in 2008, Rove had the federal prosecutors pursue a five year campaign to put Siegelman behind bars for charges over 100 current and former state attorneys general called "a deep stain on the justice system” which "cries out for commutation." As Alabama Republican lawyer Jill Simpson explained to CBS:

One of Rove's close Alabama associates was Republican consultant Bill Canary. Simpson says she was on a conference call in 2002 when Canary told her she didn't have to do more intelligence work because, as Canary allegedly said, "My girls" can take care of Siegelman. Simpson says she asked "Who are your girls?"

"And he says, 'Oh, my wife, Leura. You know, she's the Middle District United States Attorney.' And he said, 'And then Alice Martin. She is the Northern District Attorney, and I've helped with her campaign,'" Simpson says.

"Federal prosecutors?" Pelley asks.

"Yes, Sir," she says.

Stuart Rothenberg notwithstanding, as long as Don Siegelman sits in a prison cell, Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal is far from over. And if Darrell Issa is looking to accuse someone of political manipulation in the Justice Department, he can find one suspect in his own mirror.

Originally posted to Jon Perr on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 01:38 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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