The reliably Republican editorial page of the Chicago Tribune takes a look at the bubbling cesspool that Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales have made out of the Justice Department. It reaches some inevitable conclusions:
Serious charges have been leveled that undermine public confidence in federal law enforcement, and they have not been convincingly rebutted. To continue to try to shrug off the issue will only deepen suspicions that this administration has taken justice out of the Justice Department.
The purge of prosecutors looks increasingly like an effort to turn U.S. attorneys into arms of the Republican National Committee. Some of the eight prosecutors known to have been fired last year had antagonized White House political adviser Karl Rove and GOP politicians by failing to pursue cases that could have affected last year’s election outcome.
But recently, evidence emerged that there were more than eight. The department canned another U.S. attorney, Todd Graves of Kansas City, after he refused to go along with a voter-registration lawsuit filed against the state of Missouri — a suit that was ultimately thrown out by a federal judge. And Justice Department officials interviewed by congressional aides report that Milwaukee’s Steven Biskupic also made the hit list after Rove complained about his handling of vote fraud claims. But he was spared to avoid alienating then-House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) . . .
Because of these developments, public trust in the department is in serious jeopardy. The president and the attorney general now have the burden of demonstrating that the administration acted properly in this episode. So far, they show no sign of being able to.