Limbaugh falsely claimed Bush waited until his second term to replace "some" of Clinton's U.S. attorneys

››› ››› RAPHAEL SCHWEBER-KOREN

On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that in his first term, President George W. Bush "left a lot of Clinton U.S. attorneys in office, did not sweep them. Only in his second term did he start replacing some." In fact, Bush reportedly replaced 88 of the 93 U.S. attorneys with his own appointees during the first two years of his presidency.

On the December 9 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that in his first term, President George W. Bush "left a lot of [former President Bill] Clinton U.S. attorneys in office, did not sweep them. Only in his second term did he start replacing some." In fact, Bush moved to replace almost all of Clinton's U.S. attorneys within the first six months of his term, as noted in a March 14, 2001, press release from the Justice Department. Bush reportedly replaced 88 of the 93 U.S. attorneys with his own appointees during the first two years of his presidency, compared with the 89 that Clinton reportedly replaced in his first two years.

The release stated, "Continuing the practice of new administrations, President Bush and the Department of Justice have begun the transition process for most of the 93 United States Attorneys." The release also noted, "Prior to the beginning of this transition process, nearly one-third of the United States Attorneys had already submitted their resignations. The White House and the Department of Justice have begun to schedule transition dates for most of the remaining United States Attorneys to occur prior to June of this year."

Limbaugh falsely asserted that Bush had not removed his predecessor's U.S. attorneys, which Limbaugh acknowledged was "standard operating procedure": "[O]ne of the things that new, incoming presidents do is fire all of the sitting United States attorneys. I think there are 93 of them, something like that. Bill Clinton did this. It was one of the first things he did. I mean, it was the first week in office -- canned them and put his own guys in there, standard operating procedure." Limbaugh continued, "Bush did not do this, by the way."

A March 23, 2007, Los Angeles Times article by David G. Savage reported that members of Bush's Justice Department confirmed that Clinton's U.S. attorneys were, in fact, removed early in the Bush administration and noted that it was consistent with previous presidents' actions on taking office:

Both [then-Deputy Attorney General Paul J.] McNulty and [Kyle] Sampson [then-chief of staff to then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales] acknowledged that the Bush administration, like the Clinton administration, brought in a new slate of U.S. attorneys within a few months of taking office.

Reagan replaced 89 of the 93 U.S. attorneys in his first two years in office. President Clinton had 89 new U.S. attorneys in his first two years, and President Bush had 88 new U.S. attorneys in his first two years.

In a similar vein, the Justice Department recently supplied Congress with a district-by-district listing of U.S. attorneys who served prior to the Bush administration.

The list shows that in 1981, Reagan's first year in office, 71 of 93 districts had new U.S. attorneys. In 1993, Clinton's first year, 80 of 93 districts had new U.S. attorneys.

In addition, Limbaugh falsely claimed that "the name of the leaker" of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA employee "was Richard Armitage. Armitage is who leaked it to [columnist] Bob Novak." In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, Armitage was not the only person who leaked Plame's identity to reporters. Then-White House senior adviser Karl Rove was a source of the information about Plame's CIA employment for at least two journalists -- Novak and then-Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper -- and then-vice presidential chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby was a source of the information for both Cooper and Judith Miller, then of The New York Times.

From the December 9 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: Again, ladies and gentlemen, another question here about Fitzgerald. Now, Fitzgerald, because people are trying to understand -- why stop this? We're in the middle of a crime spree. We are in the middle of a crime spree, and the crime spree involves the selling of what? The Senate seat currently belongs to Barack Obama. We know that Obama had somebody in mind for the seat. That person pulled themselves out of the running at a propitious time.

We also know that Pat Fitzgerald, who was the special prosecutor in the leak of the name Valerie Plame as some sort of a CIA James Bond, which was -- I think it was always a fraud. He did a two-and-a-half year investigation even after he had his answer. The name of the leaker was Richard Armitage. Armitage is who leaked it to Bob Novak. And yet, Fitzgerald convened a two-and-a-half year investigation and then got himself a process crime: Scooter Libby, perjury. And a jury convicted. And that investigation went on and on and on, and this one gets shut down in the middle of a corruption crime spree. That's what Patrick Fitzgerald called it.

[...]

LIMBAUGH: Now, another thing to keep in mind, ladies and gentlemen, as we wade through this primordial muck that is Chicago politics, one of the things that new, incoming presidents do is fire all of the sitting United States attorneys. I think there are 93 of them, something like that. Bill Clinton did this. It was one of the first things he did. I mean, it was the first week in office -- canned them and put his own guys in there, standard operating procedure.

Although, when Bush replaced eight -- Bush did not do this, by the way. Bush, with a new tone, left a lot of Clinton U.S. attorneys in office, did not sweep them. Only in his second term did he start replacing some, and the Democrats tried to impeach the attorney general at the time, Gonzales, for supposedly playing politics with the Justice Department. And of course the White House did not fire back, did not defend itself. No reason to go over already trod ground.

However, what are the odds that the U.S. attorney in Chicago will be replaced by Barack Obama when he is inaugurated? Can you just see the headline now?

Network/Outlet
Premiere Radio Networks
Person
Rush Limbaugh
Show/Publication
The Rush Limbaugh Show
Stories/Interests
CIA Leak Investigation, U.S. Attorneys Scandal
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