No federal judgeship for Karin Immergut, Monica Lewinsky's interrogator

Willamette Week is reporting that Karin Immergut, the US Attorney for Oregon, has been dropped from consideration for a federal judgeship. It seems that the political pressure that arose after media coverage from WW (and BlueOregon?) caused her candidacy to lose its viability.

In the end, there was consensus among the six members of a selection committee not to choose Immergut. Four members of the committee were chosen by Smith and two by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

"Political considerations were part of the mix," a member of the selection committee told WW about the three candidates who were chosen. "You can drawn your own conclusions on that. That’s not a very hard dotted line to draw."

Immergut drew fire because her past as one of Ken Starr's interrogators in the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky investigations of President Bill Clinton - as well as questions about her political relationship to the Bush White house.

From Kari Chisholm's post on BlueOregon:

* Karin Immergut was a Democrat when she left Portland to work for Ken Starr. After that gig, she became a Republican in order to become a U.S. Attorney under George W. Bush. Strangely, she wasn't among the U.S. Attorneys that got fired by Alberto Gonzales. What did Karin Immergut do to avoid getting fired along with all the others that refused to kowtow to Karl Rove?

* Karin Immergut is clearly an aggressive climber of the career ladder. That's fine, so are lots of people. But if she's willing to change political parties, work for Ken Starr, and bow and scrape to Karl Rove in order to rise up through the ranks... what would Immergut be willing to do to move up from federal District Court judge to federal Court of Appeals judge? After all, the only way judges move up through those ranks is to do the bidding of the right-wing of the Republican party.

Read the rest of WW's story. Discuss.

  • (Show?)

    Given her involvement in the travesty in the wrongful arrest and violation of Brandon Mayfield's rights, all I can say is her removal form consideration for a lifetime judgeship is welcome news.

  • Admiral Naismith (unverified)

    Well, that's some good news.

    It's weird, but true: in this day and age, any US attorney who was NOT fired by the Bush League for reasons of integrity must therefore be presumed not to have enough integrity to be qualified for the bench.

    Why not a sitting state judge? Oregon Supreme Court Justice Martha Walters or Appellate Judges David Brewer and David Schuman would be among several excellent choices. Anyone know who is actually being considered now?

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    Agree with Mitch, but Admiral, I think there's probably a large category of U.S. Attys to whom the DOJ just never got around to asking for unethical action, & thus never faced the test.

    Maybe there's an argument that others should have resigned in protest / solidarity ...

  • lin qiao (unverified)

    Just wondering.

    If Karin Immergut had not questioned Monica Lewinsky about the particulars of her sexual liaison with Bill Clinton, would someone else on Ken Starr's staff have done so?

    And do you suppose Karin Immergut was some sort of evil genius who boldly thought of those particular questions in that particular deposition of Lewinsky? Isn't it just slightly possible that Starr and his whole staff sat around and brainstormed about the questions to ask?

    Let's be real here. Karin Immergut is serving as a lightning rod for people angry about the way the entire shabby Monicagate affair was used to try to destroy Bill Clinton. She's not some sort of evil genius. She's not Antonin Scalia.

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: lin qiao | Jan 25, 2008 8:56:47 PM

    Nobody is claiming she was an evil genius, just that she was a GOP lawyer who was/is a political hack who has no business being anywhere near a lifetime appointment to the bench.

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    I think there's probably a large category of U.S. Attys to whom the DOJ just never got around to asking for unethical action, & thus never faced the test.

    I think that's true of all of us. We face little ethical dilemmas all day every day, and everyone draws the line somewhere.

    Ms. Immergut and many other paid political assasins and zealots have brought dishonor to the Department of Justice. Having credentials from the Federalist Society, or a diploma from Bob Jones University as a top qualifier is a pretty sad commentary on how far it's all gone down the rathole.

  • Marty Wilde (unverified)

    Regarding alternatives, Schuman would certainly not be chosen by the Bush administration. His opinions on the Court of Appeals have been decidedly to the left of what I would have expected after taking his constitutional law class. Frankly, although I think he's brilliant, he also appears to take an overly literal view of criminal law cases, a common failing of judge with limited criminal law experience.

    Brewer would be an excellent choice. I doubt he'd be nominated by Bush, since he's more left-center, but it's a shame he'll have to wait. The same is true for Walters. She's even further left, although not an extremist.

    In general, I have to say that the federal bench at the trial level might be less than appealing to a state supreme court justice. Federal trial work is slanted heavily towards major criminal cases. Despite the lifetime tenure, I imagine many of the Oregon Supreme Court justices would prefer the more varied docket they see.

  • naschkatze (unverified)

    Congratulations to WW and BlueOregon! Sometimes I get frustrated blogging because I think we really aren't influential, but you guys have proved that we can be.

  • in-the-know (unverified)

    Regarding her performance as US Attorney and why she still has a job:

    Immergut's loyalty to DC has been unquestioned but not her loyalty to the people of Oregon. Publicly disclosed DOJ emails revealed that Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay lost favor with the top Bushies and his job, in part, because he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about the devastating effect of budget cuts and staffing shortages [under a Republican administration and a Republican Congress]on his office's ability to function in the face of rising crime rates. In predictable contrast for a person willing to change her colors at a moment's notice for the right opportunity, Immergut has never told the people of Oregon that her office was and is operating under severe staffing shortages that has impaired its ability to do its important job in a number of critical areas. Immergut is the ultimate Bushie who often cited to her staff the various ways she was implementing the "President's Agenda."

    Immergut is not widely respected as was her predecessor Mike Mosman within her office. Morale in the office is low among many of her staff and attorneys. Several employees expressed alarm among themselves about the WW story that she was headed for the federal bench. It has long been assumed that Immergut was on her way out of the federal system and would be leaving soon as some of her key managers have in anticipation of a new administration. Afterall, the only reason why Immergut beat out others who held much more Oregon credentials for her current job was that she was the "DC pick" as one of the many Starr "prosecutors" to be rewarded with plum jobs and the chance to prove themselves as loyal "Bushies" to use the Goodling/Sampson term.

    Her impact on the office has been significant. Immergut has hired six lawyers who have never tried a case in federal or state court before joining the office. Representing the government in a federal case is not the proper forum to get trained on basic trial skills. There are no little cases in federal court. This marked reduction of litigation experience jeopardizes justice on many levels including the ability to maintain a full caseload in the office and to assure that the rights of the accused are fully protected by experienced lawyers fully aware of the consitutional requirements of full discovery and fair dealing. A strained, under-staffed and under-compensated prosecution office is not in the public's interest.

    Immergut is known within the office for being socially awkward, out-of-touch and more importantly, indecisive. She has a history of unabashedly citing her husband's opinions to her staff on various internal office personnel and case matters. Immergut's husband is a local attorney who has no business interjecting himself or his opinions into the matters of the U.S. Attorney's Office. Immergut does not seem to have a firm grasp on the various and strict requirements of government ethics with respect to the solicitation and acceptance of unoffical staff time to assist her with unofficial activities. Upon her First Assistant's retirement last year, Immergut was quoted in the Oregonian as saying that she knew her First Assistant always had "her back." Conveniently so, Immergut's First Assistant was also the office Ethics Officer.

  • naschkatze (unverified)

    Very informative, in-the-know. The biggest crime problem facing Oregon and one which the federal branch of the law seems especially equipped to deal with is our drug problem. In reading these comments on BlueOregon, I saw that no one had spoken up for Immergut on what a good job she had done in this area. It seems to me a greater problem than "eco-terrorism", but maybe there's no glory or cachet in it. Do you have any information on how she performed in combatting drugs? It's all after the fact now, but I am just curious.

  • We Are Not The Wire (unverified)

    Overall, the Bush administration has downgraded narcotics prosecutions, instead giving priority to terrorism, public corruption, and immigration. It is my understanding that she has been a good team player with Washington, and has not played around with those priorities.

    As for what was written about the firing of Seattle’s US Attorney, there is evidence that that real reason is more ugly. The New Yorker found evidence that the US Attorney was fired because the gun lobby did not like the investigation into the killing of an Assistant US Attorney by a gun rights enthusiast.

  • in-the-know (unverified)

    We Are Not the Wire is correct about one of the major reasons for McKay's firing. That is why I stated his budget disclosure was only part of the reason why he is fired. McKay should have been commended for complaining about the lackluster performance and inadequate DOJ interest into the investigation into Wales death which published news reports indicate was a "hit" related to one of his cases. Overall, the current DOJ Administration has taken little interest in the security of federal prosecutors despite the murder of Seattle Assistant United States Attorney Thomas Wales in 2001. In light of that still-unsolved crime and the congressional testimony about the myriad of threats that occur yearly against prosecutors, the national association of federal prosecutors implored US Attorneys to implement better security measures for their prosecutors including giving prosecutors priority in parking at secured facilities such as the federal courthouse. Immergut considered the measure and decided prosecutors in her office should not receive any priority over secured spaces other employees such as clerical staff who seldom work the nightime hours that prosecutors do and who do not have to be the face of the government against violent and often well-organized criminals in court. Since it is not a priority for DC, it is not a priority for Immergut. McKay simply did not tow the line on some important levels and it cost him his job.

  • William (unverified)
    <h2>I'd like to second what lestat wrote. Her behavior in the Mayfield case, taken by itself, is enough to disqualify her in my book.</h2>
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