I just love Orrin Hatch. For those of you not in the know, Mr. Hatch is a U.S. Senator from the state of Utah. On Meet the Press Sunday morning, Mr. Hatch angrily defended the Bush administration and the Justice Department proclaiming, “there’s not a shred of evidence suggesting an ongoing investigation was interfered with… they’re (the Democrats) creating a tempest in a teapot over this issue.”
With all due respect to the esteemed gentleman from Utah, I think he’s hanging by a thread to his shred of remaining credibility on this issue.
Here’s an excerpt from the American Heritage Dictionary:
1. A thing or things helpful in forming a conclusion or judgment.
2. Something indicative; an outward sign.
Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia:
Circumstantial evidence is unrelated facts that, when considered together, can be used to infer a conclusion about something unknown…. The distinction between direct and circumstantial evidence is important because, with the obvious exceptions (the immature, incompetent, or mentally ill), nearly all criminals are careful to not generate direct evidence, and try to avoid demonstrating criminal intent. Therefore, to prove the mens rea levels of “purposely” or “knowingly,” the prosecution must usually resort to circumstantial evidence of the individual’s guilt…. A popular misconception is that circumstantial evidence is less valid or less important than direct evidence. This is only partly true: direct evidence is generally considered more powerful, but successful criminal prosecutions often rely largely on circumstantial evidence…. Much of the evidence against Timothy McVeigh was circumstantial, for example.
Let’s review… a handful of U.S. Attorneys were fired (or politely asked to clean out their offices “voluntarily”). Several (if not most) of them were let go after they either failed to indict Democrats running for office in 2006, or after they pursued indictments of Republican office holders. While this fails to rise to the level of “direct evidence,” surely it rises to the level of “circumstantial evidence.” On it’s own, it’s not enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that someone interfered with investigations. However, to my lay legal mind… it does constitute SOME evidence. Whether it’s enough evidence to base further investigation is open for debate, but it is evidence.
Based on email dumps by the administration, there is direct evidence of one thing… there was an effort to determine a reason for the firings after it was determined which U.S. Attorneys were fired (re: imigration). You are free to make your own conclusions about that (you can lead a horse to water…).
Earlier in the week, Tim Russert (the host of Meet the Press) was quoted as saying he was having trouble finding a Republican to appear on his show to defend the Attorney General. After looking for the better part of the day, he finally landed Senator Hatch. Senator Hatch, as you may know, is not one of the Senators up for re-election in 2008.