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The US Attorney, the GOP Congressman and the Timely Job Offer By Adam Cohen, The New York Times, Friday 04 May 2007
Debra Wong Yang of Los Angeles resigned under circumstances that raise serious questions, starting with whether she was pushed out to disrupt her investigation of one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress.
Ms. Yang served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, which Mr. Gonzales has called “a small group of U.S. attorneys that I consult on policy matters.”
Alberto Gonzales hailed her as “one of the most respected U.S. attorneys in the country.”
What She Was Doing Before She LeftEdit
Ms. Yang was investigating Jerry Lewis, who was chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee. The other purged prosecutors were fired on Dec. 7. Ms. Yang, in a fortuitously timed exit, resigned in mid-October.
Why She LeftEdit
Ms. Yang says she left for personal reasons, but there is growing evidence that the White House was intent on removing her.
Kyle Sampson, the Justice Department staff member in charge of the firings testified:
- Harriet Miers, the White House counsel at the time, had asked him more than once about Ms. Yang.
- as late as mid-September, Ms. Miers wanted to know whether Ms. Yang could be made to resign.
- Ms. Miers was focused on just two United States attorneys: Ms. Yang and Bud Cummins, the Arkansas prosecutor who was later fired to make room for Tim Griffin, a Republican political operative and Karl Rove protégé.
Debra's Gonna Make It After All!Edit
The new job that Ms. Yang landed raised more red flags.
Press reports say she got a $1.5 million signing bonus to become a partner in Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, a firm with strong Republican ties.
She was hired to be co-leader of the Crisis Management Practice Group with Theodore Olson, who was President Bush’s solicitor general and his Supreme Court lawyer in Bush v. Gore.
Gibson, Dunn was defending Mr. Lewis in Ms. Yang’s investigation.
Did Ms. Yang know or suspect that she might lose her job, and jump ship to avoid being fired?
That is not hard to believe because Ms. Miers and Mr. Sampson were exchanging e-mail about dismissing her in mid-September, and she announced her departure in October. Ms. Yang served on the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, which Mr. Gonzales has called “a small group of U.S. attorneys that I consult on policy matters.” That may have put her in a position to be tipped off in advance.
Gibson, Dunn dangled a rich financial package before Ms. Yang to get her out, and to disrupt the investigation of Mr. Lewis.
Ms. Yang, who says she left her job purely for personal reasons, may not have known she was being lured away by people with close ties to Mr. Lewis and the White House, who were hoping to replace her with a more partisan prosecutor.
The timing of her departure was coincidental. That would make her lucky indeed: after more than 15 years of working for government, she decided to take a private sector job precisely when the White House counsel was apparently trying to fire her.