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Mercer Evades Testimony in Justice Probe


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.”

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