The Attorney General of the United States is described by the Department of Justice’s own website as follows:
The Judiciary Act of 1789 created the Office of the Attorney General which evolved over the years into the head of the Department of Justice and chief law enforcement officer of the Federal Government. The Attorney General represents the United States in legal matters generally and gives advice and opinions to the President and to the heads of the executive departments of the Government when so requested. In matters of exceptional gravity or importance the Attorney General appears in person before the Supreme Court. Since the 1870 Act that established the Department of Justice as an executive department of the government of the United States, the Attorney General has guided the world’s largest law office and the central agency for enforcement of federal laws.
I think that is a fair and accurate description of the AG and his role as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States. As Attorney General Eric Holder is held to the highest of standards regarding the practice of law. For example, the American Bar Association’s Model Code of Professional Responsibility describes a lawyer’s ethical duty in terms of “canons” which are aspirational and “disciplinary rules” which are legal requirements. Most, if not all, state bar associations and Supreme Courts have adopted similar rules.
Canon 9 of this Code says that lawyers should avoid “even the appearance of professional impropriety.” This canon is followed by disciplinary rules specifying how lawyers shall avoid such appearances. Note, we’re talking about “appearances” of impropriety because even the appearance of impropriety can weaken our legal and judicial system. So considering that a lawyer’s actions should avoid even the appearance of impropriety, consider the top law enforcement officer’s (the AG’s) reaction to the illegal leaking of classified information by someone in the Executive Branch (the Presidency):
According to CNN Attorney General Eric Holder assigned two U.S. attorneys to lead investigations into the possible leaking of state secrets:
The unauthorized disclosure of classified information can compromise the security of this country and all Americans, and it will not be tolerated,” he said in a statement.
That’s reassuring, isn’t it? Appoint investigators to probe these very serious leaks of classified information which is risking the lives of operatives oversees and which ruins our foreign relations and foreign policies. So what’s the problem?
Holder assigned U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Ronald C. Machen Jr., a Democratic appointee, and U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein, a holdover GOP appointee, to lead the investigations.
Who is Ronald C. Machen, Jr? According to the Washington Post:
Machen, a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, is a partner at the law firm WilmerHale, where he has specialized in internal investigations for corporations. He was an assistant U.S. attorney in the District from 1997 to 2001, handling crimes ranging from theft to mail fraud.
Machen, who lives in Silver Spring, is expected to move to the District while he holds down the job.
Over the years, he has donated $4,350 to Obama’s campaigns. He gave $250 to Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign in 2003, a year before Obama, then an Illinois state senator, emerged on the nation’s political radar, according to campaign finance records.
So the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, appointed by President Obama and confirmed by the United States Senate, has appointed a political donor as a special investigator into the leaks of classified information. A political donor of not just recent contributions, but one going all the way back to Obama’s run for Senate in Illinois.
Hardly avoiding even the appearance of impropriety in my opinion.
Eric Holder should resign now.