Skip to comments.Leak staffer ousted Frist aide forced out in an effort to assuage Dems By Alexander Bolton
Posted on 02/05/2004 8:36:00 AM PST by MamaLucci
Leak staffer ousted
Frist aide forced out in an effort to assuage Dems
By Alexander Bolton
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frists (R-Tenn.) top aide on judicial nominees is expected to announce his resignation at the end of this week a sacrifice offered by the GOP leadership in hope of persuading the Democrats to wind down the fight over leaked Judiciary Committee memos.
The aide, Manuel Miranda, had spearheaded the Republican effort to push President Bushs judicial nominees through the Senate in the face of fierce Democratic opposition.
Miranda declined a request for comment. But The Hill has learned that he agreed to resign under pressure from Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The Democrats have not agreed to scale back their demands for wide-ranging punishments following a full-blown leak inquiry.
Since switching from the Judiciary Committee to Frists office in February last year, Miranda had overseen a multi-pronged strategy to confirm judges whom Democrats had blocked with filibusters and other procedural tactics.
Miranda helped galvanize the Senate Republican caucus and outside constituent groups such as Hispanics and Catholics behind the nominees. In previous years, most of the Senate Republican caucus, apart from members of the Judiciary Committee, remained aloof from the fight.
The aides departure signals that Senate Republican leaders will likely pull back from confrontation over Bushs judges. Last years high-intensity battles included a GOP-staged 40-hour marathon debate on blocked nominees.
As an aide in Frists office, Miranda was able to organize the Judiciary Committee with outside groups that communicated the Republican message on judges. Without the heft of Frists office behind the campaign to confirm Bushs judges, the Senate Republican Conference, will have a tough time overcoming turf battles with the committee.
If they can tamp down the furor over the leaked memos, Republicans could focus on the content of the documents, which illustrate the influence outside groups such as the NAACP and People for the American Way have had on Democratic decisions to block nominees.
Its capitulation to the old Democratic trick that if you catch us with our hands dirty, well blame Republicans for dirty tricks, said a GOP aide.
Miranda admitted to the sergeant at arms that he had read Democratic memos that a Republican staffer on the Judiciary Committee accessed through a glitch on the panel server. But it is unclear what rules if any Miranda broke. His defenders say that the files were openly available to Republicans through their desktop computers and that there is no such thing as a property right to a federal document.
Sergeant at Arms Bill Pickles investigation of how internal Democratic memos were leaked to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times has halted the momentum Republicans built last year on judicial nominees. It has also generated bad publicity for Republicans.
Frists staff told The Boston Globe two weeks ago that Miranda had been placed on paid leave pending the results of the investigation. But Mirandas fate may have been sealed by Pickle, who urged Frist chief of staff Lee Rawls to sack him, according to several Senate aides.
Miranda confronted Pickle in an e-mail last week.
Do you think that it is appropriate to go to the GOP bicameral [retreat] today and lobby Frist staff and senators to have me fired, as I am told you have been doing? Do you think that will at all taint the report which you are soon to issue? Do you think it is proper? Miranda demanded of the sergeant at arms.
Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said no staff in the Majority Leaders office reported being lobbied by Pickle.
I have no idea what hes referring to, said Stevenson in response to the allegation.
Democrats had threatened Hatch Monday to hold up the proceedings of the Judiciary Committee unless he agreed to schedule a briefing by Pickle for Republicans and Democrats on the the investigations progress.
Pickle will reportedly participate in a senators-only briefing next Tuesday. His offices investigation, which has interviewed over 100 staffers and seized several computers, is expected to conclude soon.
Some GOP senators resent the way the controversy turned from Democratic to Republican impropriety.
Right now I think that was pretty unfair, Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said of the probes focus on Miranda. I dont have the impression he did anything wrong and we just completely quit looking at was done and what was found [in the memos]. I dont know the details, but I would not be a friend in firing a highly qualified staffer.
Miranda has really been the quarterback on the Republican side for much of the Senate activity on this, said Sean Rushton, the executive director of the Committee for Justice.
Republicans are also losing senior counsel Rena Comisac, who headed the Judiciary Committees nominations team. She will start working at the Justice Department next Monday.
Responsibility for judicial nominees in the majority leaders office will now be assigned to Bill Wichterman, Frists director of coalitions.
But some conservatives are worried that Wichterman, who handles a wide array of issues and coalitions, will not be able to devote the same specialized attention as Miranda did to judicial nominees.
BTW think it was a rat that set up the first coordinator of intelligence.
Somebody please explain to me why the GOP is caving into this BS instead of going after the content and purpose of the Democrat memos.
I understand the principles and theory.
I want to understand the inside political shenanigans that make this "strategy" or "tactic," or whatever it is, practical.
I mean do the Dems have some dirty pictures of some pubbies, who's being blackmailed, and for what ??
That's the only explanation, isn't it ??
I will have to use this as my reason for not contributing the next time the GOP calls for a donation.
No! No! No! No! No! No! No!
Now, more than ever, IT'S ALL ABOUT THE JUDGES!!!
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