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Let’s see. It’s Friday afternoon, after the close for the evening news feed. Time for the latest bad-news-please-bury from the Department of Justice. Today’s headline: Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer, the Department’s number three, submits his resignation. CNN reports:
The Justice Department’s Acting Associate Attorney General withdrew his name from nomination to be confirmed to the third-highest ranking job, saying he believed he would not be confirmed because of the ongoing battle over access to Justice Department documents related to the firing of U.S. attorneys last year.
William Mercer has served in an Acting capacity in the position since last September, but his nomination has been delayed by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
But alas, the nation will not be deprived of Mr. Mercer’s considerable talents. He will return to his hidden sinecure, as U.S. Attorney in Montana. That’s certainly going to be welcome news to the federal judges in Montana, who’ve been quite outspoken in their criticism of Mr. Mercer’s capabilities and performance in office. They want him gone, and they’ve said so.
Now what exactly prompts Mercer’s withdrawal of his name? Senate Judiciary Chair Patrick Leahy says he understands perfectly. Mercer was slated to testify under oath before his committee, and by withdrawing the nomination, he believes he can avoid having to give evidence. So, this is withdrawal of nomination as an act of obstruction of the pending investigation. Says Leahy, “The White House has found many ways to keep sunlight from reaching some of the darker corners of the Bush Justice Department, but this is a new one.”
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm
Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Years ago, I lived in Montana, a land of purple sunsets, clear streams, and snowflakes the size of silver dollars drifting through the cold air. There were no speed limits and you could legally drive drunk. My small apartment in Missoula had little privacy. In order to write, I rented an off-season fishing cabin on Rock Creek, a one-room place with a bed and a bureau. I lacked the budget for a desk. My idea was to remove a sliding door from a closet in my apartment and place it over a couple of hastily cobbled-together sawhorses.
Average number of bacteria living in a pound of U.S. mud:
Canadian doctors saved a baby from drowning in his own drool by using Botox on his salivary glands.
A black bear named Pedals, famous for walking upright on his hind legs through Rockaway Township, New Jersey, was reported killed by a hunter, and a hiker in California was attacked after he interrupted two bears mating. It was a “pretty good bear attack,” said the local police chief.
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"She never thanked me, never looked at me—melted away into the miserable night, in the strangest manner I ever saw. I have seen many strange things, but not one that has left a deeper impression on my memory than the dull impassive way in which that worn-out heap of misery took that piece of money, and was lost."