Ten years later, Monica Lewinsky's interrogator wants to be a federal judge in Oregon. No way.

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite


ITEM: On January 17, 1998, the Monica Lewinsky story broke on the Drudge Report. Exactly ten years ago today.

ITEM: Willamette Week broke the news yesterday: Senator Gordon Smith will nominate Karin Immergut, the U.S. Attorney for Oregon, to the federal bench - to the seat currently held by Judge Garr King (an excellent jurist with a strong record, originally nominated by Senator Wyden and appointed by President Clinton.)

In the last year of the Bush Administration, Senator Smith is trying to sneak in one last federal judge. As usual, he'd like us to think it's a nice, uncontroversial pick.

Not a chance.

And Monica Lewinsky is about to get back in the news.

Eight sources—many of whom declined to speak on the record—said Immergut is the favorite of U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, who as Oregon’s Republican senator will make the key recommendation to the Republican White House on whom to nominate. ...

But in today’s charged political climate, Immergut could face stiff opposition from U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and powerful members of Congress because of several pieces of baggage she brings—including work she did 10 years ago as a team member on Special Prosecutor Ken Starr’s investigation of President Clinton’s sexual foibles. ...

It was Immergut who personally questioned Monica Lewinsky in an Aug. 6, 1998, deposition, famously asking whether the president was wearing pants when he received oral sex.

It's worth noting that Immergut doesn't include the Ken Starr gig on her official biography. What's she hiding? Is she not proud of the work she did solving the mystery of a presidential blow job? Spending millions of taxpayer dollars interrogating Monica about the blue dress?

But the past is the past. Let's talk about the present. Here's my questions:

I don't trust Karin Immergut. And neither should you.

And the Democrats on the Judiciary Committee need to pay attention to this one. Don't let Gordon Smith sneak a bad judge through in the last year of President Bush's term (and the last year of Smith's Senate career, too.)

  • All the news that Fits your Views (unverified)

    You're willing oppose a judicial nomination, but Sen. Betsy Johnson's (D-Scappoose Airport) criminal investigation by the FBIL doesn't merit mention at Blue Oregon?

    Fair and nuanced?

  • artsasinic (unverified)

    All the news, you're starting to sound like a "Guliani/911", do you have another thought?

  • littlevoice (unverified)

    This is the least substantive post I've seen in a while and hinges only on partisanship. Interrogating Monica has nothing to do with one's ability to be a judge. Let's not oppose things for the sole reason of being the opposition.

  • naschkatze (unverified)

    I couldn't disagree with commenter littlevoice much more. This is a very substantive issue. We are a progresssive state whether you approve or not, and one of the last things we need is for the Bush administration to make a last moment life appointment of a "conservative" opportunist to a federal judgeship, one who will work to stymie the will of the people of Oregon for decades to come. Secondly, Gordon Smith has a high disapproval rating and stands a good chance of being defeated this November, and why should he be given the chance to affect our judiciary in this way? The right dominates the judiciary in this country, and the Democrats in the US Senate will be absolutely crazy to allow Bush to drive the court further to the right in the waning days of his administration. The Democrats should make no judicial confirmations until a Democrat is in the White House.

  • anon (unverified)

    Why am I "anon" in this post? Because I frequently have business before the federal district court of Oregon.

    Why are "All the News that Fit Your Views" and "littlevoice" anonymously posting? Because they are Republican trolls.

    Kari is raising questions that might never get asked under the current process because if you read the WWeek article, Sen. Smith's office is refusing to release to the public the names of the attorneys he is considering for the federal bench. WTF? WWeek did everyone a service by finding one name (and the apparent frontrunner); they (and everyone else) ought to have access to the other seven.

    Senator Smith's only selection to the federal bench to date -- Judge Mosman -- had disturbing issues raised when he was being considered for the federal bench about his infamous memo as a Supreme Court clerk to Justice Powell urging Powell to preserve a state's right to criminalize sodomy (which of course was the term at the time for homosexuality). Mosman assured everyone in the selection process that he harbored no ill-will toward gays, everyone ooohed and aaaahed over what a moderate, nice guy he was, and the Senate confirmed him. Flash forward a few years and Mosman is now a superstar activist judge for the far right for halting Oregon's civil unions law and asserting federal rights over Oregon election law. Remind you of Florida, anyone? Mosman is well-positioned now for a position on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and, someday, the Supreme Court.

    So what does this have to do with Immergut? Haven't we learned anything from Roberts, Alito, Mosman, et al? They are schooled by the Justice Department on how to put a non-threatening smiley face on their right-wing views, and once they get on the bench, they do exactly what they were chosen to do, which is to rule from the bench like the right-wingers that they are. Kari is asking whether we should have any reason to trust someone who attempted to impeach a sitting President over consensual (though wrong, pathetic, and disgusting) sex. He is asking whether there is a disturbing pattern of opportunism that should make us, Leahy, Wyden, etc. take pause if Immergut is Smith's choice. That may be the MOST substantive post I've read on this blog for a long while (and with all due respect, Kari, light years more substantive than what state Kroger's money comes from).

    Perhaps if people had taken Mosman's youthful indiscretion more seriously gays and lesbians in this state would be closer to equal footing with their straight neighbors. I haven't heard Smith comment on this ruling, which he owns (memo to Merkley/Novick - wake the f up).

    And how's this for "substantive," my little troll friends? Immergut would replace a Clinton-Wyden appointment who has been suprising progressive from the bench. Are you suggesting that it's great for progressives to let Bush replace a Democratic judge, this close to his exit from office? Oh, that's right -- you're a Republican troll.

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    I don't think Kari's hinging purely on partisanship; that just scratches the surface. He's saying that she was complicit with and part and parcel to a witch hunt of an investigation that cost millions of taxpayers dollars and had no national benefit.

    I think he's right to question her partisan motives, but I think it points to an underlying judgment issue. Will she be independent, as we should expect from our justices and nominees? Or will she be beholden to interests, as she seemingly has demonstrated throughout her career? In light of the partisan nature of the judiciary under President Bush, I think these are fair questions.

  • anon (unverified)

    "suprising" in the last graph should read "suprisingly"

  • AnonMe (unverified)

    Karin also was NOT on the wide-ranging list of attorneys the Bush Administration wanted to purge.

    The reason for that is certainly clear.

    Hasn't she also been pushing to treat eco-vandalism as "domesitic terrorism"? She doesn't think, however, that people who vandalize or attack abortion clinics or providers are "domesitic terrorists", I'll bet.

    A zealot who uses the law to enforce the extremist views of her party bosses.

  • AnonMe (unverified)

    From Willamette Week's 2006 interview of Immergut:

    In her free time, she's plodding through a dense tome on eco-terrorism. She hopes the radicals are working as hard to understand her. WW: As a law-and-order U.S. attorney, do you ever feel out of place in Portland, where liberals may be suspicious of you? Karin Immergut: I think it's challenging to be aligned with law enforcement in a place like Portland. On the other hand, I don't look at prosecuting crime as a liberal or a conservative thing to do. The cases we take on are not pursued for political purposes. Your office has been in the news a lot lately with domestic terrorism prosecutions against members of the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front for a series of arsons in the 1990s. Does what they are doing qualify as domestic terrorism? Absolutely. And how do you define domestic terrorism? Domestic terrorism is when you commit illegal and dangerous acts, or acts that are dangerous to human life, in order to coerce or affect the conduct of government or private entities. Don't you think calling it domestic terrorism puts self-defined civil disobedience in the same class as the 9/11 attacks or the Oklahoma City bombing? How can you compare the massive loss of life with blowing up property? I'm not comparing the results of the actions, but terrorism is terrorism no matter what the motive is. There's a real difference between free expression and First Amendment rights versus committing crimes to get what you want.


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    There's a real difference between free expression and First Amendment rights versus committing crimes to get what you want.

    So-o-o-o-o lying down in front of the gate to a military school that trains thugs in peasant supression tactics is morally equivalent to blowing up an entire government building complete with day care center.

    Spray painting an SUV is morally equvalient to taking down skyscrapers with planes, murdering 3000 people.


    And yes, they do make exactly that argument.


    Let's ask Gordo to recommend judges that favor prosecuting self-righteous Lefty vandals for vandalism and terrorists for terrorism.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)

    Well, anonymous, here's another incoming from a "Republican troll," (i.e. anyone who disagrees with you, apparently).

    A starting comment - I find it highly amusing to see both the left and the right in this country work to manipulate the federal judiciary for their own ends. The hypocrisy is boundless. While Judge Mosman is roundly condemned for making a preliminary decision that perhaps Oregon's voters' rights and Oregon's petition signatory's rights have something in common, I'm sure "Anonymous" gives huzzahs to decisions overturning laws he likes - e.g. perhaps 9th District Judge Reinhardt's infamous 1994 ruling that Washington's ban on assisted suicide was unconstitutional (later overturned by an almost-unanimous Supreme Court).

    Or perhaps if the sainted Judge Garr King had made the same ruling Judge Mosman did, only in a case where the disputed signatures were from ACLU sympathizers on a measure banning the Death Penalty in Oregon - would "Anonymous" have the some complaints? I think not. Perhaps, just perhaps, Judge Mosman's decision doesn't have anything to do with the actual content of the measure in controversy?

    As for Immergut, she was an EMPLOYEE of the Starr investigation. She is also a lawyer. Her job is to vigorously pursue the direction of her employer, which was to vigorously pursue the Monica Lewinsky investigation. If she had tried to sabotage the investigation she could have, and should have, been subject to disciplinary sanctions. I personally have no problem with the vigorous investigation of this matter by the Starr office - this was a criminal investigation of perjury. Where I find the Starr investigation went wrong came later, when Starr used the results of his investigation to improperly jump-start a ludicrous impeachment drive by the Republican party.

    Oh yes, I suppose she could have resigned to make a point. How many of us have kept a job despite problems we may have had with the work involved, because we needed the money and insurance and all that stuff? If Immergut had been Ken Starr himself, Kari's argument might have merit.

    As for the federal prosecutor beef - let me get this straight - because Immergut was NOT fired by Rove, she's guilty, or at least suspect. A good analogy? In a company doing skullduggery, 1 employee becomes a whistle-blower and 80 others don't. Are the 38,000 others guilty, or suspect?

    And Immergut switched from being a Democrat to being a Republican? Ah, the ultimate crime, APOSTASY! Of course Immergut can't have switched because she decided that perhaps she felt more comfortable as a Republican and agreed with more of the party's policies than with those of the Democrats. Or she can't have switched because after her investigation she was disgusted with the character of the leader of the Democratic party, President Bill Clinton. It has to be because she was a craven opportunist.

    One final point - if Immergut and Mosman and other Bush-appointed district judges turn out to be no good, it's easy to prevent them from getting onto the 9th Circuit or the Supreme Court - nominate good Democratic candidates for President who can get elected to the office by the American people.

  • Urban Planning Overlord (unverified)

    Make that "80" others, not "38,000" others.

  • Thirdgenerationoregonian (unverified)

    I wonder why no one seems to recall Ms Immegut and Brandon Mayfield? Was she not closely involved in this miscarriage of justice? Is this case reflective of her judicial behavior? http://www.oregonlive.com/special/terror/index.ssf?/special/oregonian/terror/may040530.html Shouldn't she be closely questioned about her permitting this case to go forward?

  • (Show?)

    I have heard comments that Ms. Immergut has been a pretty mediocre U.S. attorney. I have no personal information on this and no way of knowing if the comments are true. Anybody out there want to comment on her performance in her current job?

  • (Show?)

    To the dude obsessed with Senator Johnson.... post a guest column already!

  • Thoughts (unverified)

    When I was in law school a few years ago, Immergut spoke to us about what life is like as a US Attorney. During the questions and answers, a student asked about evidence problems in the Brandon Mayfield case: was evidence gathered in secret and how reliable were the fingerprints. Immergut denied that any secret evidence was ever gathered against Mayfield and that the fingerprints were as reliable as they come. A few years later and we find out that what she told us was not exactly true.

    In the grand scheme of things, it probably does not matter that she mislead (I will not claim lied to) some law students. However, it does seem to matter that she still has not admitted to her mistakes and took whatever means were necessary to cover what she did. When combined with her extremely questionable work for Starr (“a young prosecutor’s dream”) it does raise some questions about how politics affects her judgment.

    P.S. She also opened her talk talking about Lewinsky, until she realized that Lewinsky was our schools most famous alumni.

  • naschkatze (unverified)

    Thirdgenerationoregonian, you bring up a good point about Brandon Mayfield. Maybe someone can enlighten us about her exact role in that case.

  • anon (unverified)

    Urban Planning Overlord,

    In case you haven't noticed, this is a progressive website. Of course Republicans and Democrats attempt to fill the bench with those who represent their views. That is why most of us on this website vote for progressives, and in many cases, campaign for progressives.

    The Supreme Court decided Florida and that's how got this war, this recession, and Mike Mosman. I am suggesting that it is reasonable for Kari to raise legitimate questions that might slow this down until we have another election.

    Now go out and work hard for Romney or whomever you support for President, and you will get the federal bench of your dreams.

  • (Show?)

    Echo naschkatze.

    The Brandon Mayfield angle seems more relevant and timely than the Lewinsky angle. Not that either are irrelevant. But the Mayfield angle should strike a cord among Oregonians considering Smith is pushing this and Mayfield is an Oregonian.

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    Posted by: anon | Jan 17, 2008 8:41:14 AM

    Perfectly said, and heartily seconded by me.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    So much for Gordon Smith's "moderate Republican" status.

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    Posted by: Kevin | Jan 17, 2008 10:29:37 AM The Brandon Mayfield angle seems more relevant and timely than the Lewinsky angle. Not that either are irrelevant. But the Mayfield angle should strike a cord among Oregonians considering Smith is pushing this and Mayfield is an Oregonian.


    And makes it relevant to anyone how we need to restore COnstitutional safeguards and make the 4th amendment no longer dead-letter law which Bush and Smith have made it.

    From the WW piece:

    And she’ll face questioning over her role in the embarrassing case against Brandon Mayfield, a Portland lawyer falsely linked to the 2004 Madrid train bombings. Mayfield says Immergut shouldn’t get the job because of her role in his case. “It was botched at all levels,” he told WW . “I would hold her more responsible than anybody at a local level.”
  • (Show?)

    "I haven't heard Smith comment on this ruling, which he owns (memo to Merkley/Novick - wake the f up)."

    Maybe that's because it's a very preliminary ruling to simply let the case go forward (and to enjoin HB 2007 from taking effect). There's been no actual decision on the applicability of Bears United v Cenarrusa to the current case (Lemons v Bradbury), although I admit the finding that plaintiffs might be likely to prevail as justification for the injunction, suggests that's where Mosman's going.

    But I don't think it's prudent for EITHER Merkley or Novick to get into the middle of a court case that as yet hasn't even had a hearing on the facts, much less a specific ruling on the merits.

    I also have to agree that interviewing Lewinsky and not being fired by Rove are sketchy ways to implicate someone for a job. She may well be unfit or undesirable, but I'd have to see something more than this to say so. (The Mayfield angle would do it, depending on her actions).

  • (Show?)

    Most recent anon, the UPO & I disagree fairly often, but as far as I can tell he/she is either a centrist Democrat or an NAV who sometimes votes Democratic. Since UPO's arguments usually have some substance to them I think it is of greater benefit to BO progressives who disagree with them to deal with the challenge they pose than to create a cozy little echo chamber.

    The point UPO raises I would like to hone in on is Kari's claim that Immergut not being on Alberto Gonzales' hit list. The pattern that has emerged about those firings is that the U.S. attorneys in question refused to pursue political prosecutions or investigations designed to influence election campaigns when pressured to do so. Unless someone can show me a case in which Immergut did pursue such a politicized investigation, i.e. actually did something that could be the political bidding of Rove/Gonzalez, I think Kari's suggestion is simply without substance. R/G fired something on the order of 10% of the U.S. attorneys. I don't believe the other 90% were actively carrying their water for them. I think most of them were lucky enough not to have a race in their jurisdiction that R/G thought ripe for unethical intervention.

    That said, the "she was just doing her job" for Ken Starr argument doesn't really wash. She didn't have to take the job in the first place.

    The Mayfield questions and the "domestic terrorism" questions are good, and ought to be extended to encompass other aspects of her approach to "homeland security" issues in Oregon. For a state our size we've been the locus of a fair amount of this stuff. There was the Lumumba Ford crew, who early on were touted by Ashcroft as evidence of Al Qaeda cells in the U.S., when really they were a not very competent group of wannabes. What was Immergut's role if any in spinning them as something they weren't? There is the interesting case of the the guy from the defunct Islamic charity in southern Oregon that may be a vehicle for reining in some of the Bush admin's unconsitutional claims about executive power. What was her role if any in that case?

    On domestic terrorism, two things. First, Immergut's definition of domestic terrorism is a gift to us from Bill Clinton and Janet Reno in the "Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996." The version of the bill originally proposed by Clinton and Reno was quite close to the so-called USA-PATRIOT Act, but had some of the more egregious proposals taken out by Congress.

    Likewise in discussions in Portland about whether to continue with a local Joint Terrorism Task Force (as opposed to the ones all states have associated with the U.S. Attorneys' offices), former mayor Vera Katz backed former police chief Mark Kroeker in wanting to participate, citing "eco-terrorism" as a major reason. This is not just a Republican problem.

    Secondly, Immergut's quotes about "motives" and terrorism actually are grossly inconsistent, because what the Clinton/Reno law does is define terrorism similarly to a hate crime. Intention is everything. Why wasn't burning SUVs and ski resorts just arson? Political intent.

    The key distinguishing feature of acts is not level of violence or aim to inspire terror -- it is attempting to promote a political change of any sort using coercion or threats. Political intention is what makes "terrorism" under this law. It is a thought crime and motives crime. Immergut's focus on actual substantial violence is relatively sensible in the context of this bizarrely bad law brought to us by Bill Clinton.

    Arson isn't civil disobedience. It is a viciously stupid crime redolent of irresponsibility since its consequences are hard to control. In that sense, it is the opposite of real civil disobedience, which involves violations of bad laws with a conscious sense of responsibility for the consequences.

    But the crimes committed should be treated as arson, intimidation and perhaps extortion. The definition of terrorism should be restricted to indiscriminate mass violence designed to induce public terror, fear, panic and insecurity, or targetted violence aimed at inducing fear of personal bodily harm or death on the part of a wider class of persons beyond the specific target.

  • (Show?)

    Ugh. "Kari's claim about Immergut" not being on the hit list ...

  • anon (unverified)

    The comments of "Thoughts" above need to be pursued by the Smith judicial selection committee and possibly the Senate Judiciary Committee. If I'm not mistaken, the evidence initially gathered was accomplished via a "sneak and peak," authority available to Ms. Immergut under the Patriot Act. I can certainly understand not confirming or denying what would probably be classified information, but intentionally lying to Lewis and Clark law students about your activities would clearly be within the Bar's purview. So if Ms. Immergut was actually telling groups that no secret evidence was gathered from Mayfield, might that violate her professional responsibilities required as a member of the Oregon Bar?

    Then again, there is the small matter of her signing off on a sneak and peak if she had reason to question the validity of the fingerprint ID. The Senate Judiciary Committee will need to thoroughly examine her role, what she knew, and when she knew it.

  • backbeat12 (unverified)

    Have they even bothered to give back Mayfield's computer(s) and other belongings that they illegally stole? And let's not forget that the main fbi dude, Jordon, was run out of dc by Grassley, R, after the crap Jordon pulled on whistleblowers. He was lucky to still have a job after that crap and lucky Portland ended up with him. This is who she teamed up with. What a crowd.

  • anon (unverified)

    Chris --

    Kari's question about what did she do to stay on Rove's good side is fair. It doesn't mean that she did anything wrong, but it would be irresponsible to not more closely examine her record. The only way this omination gets done pre-2009 is if people are in a rush. Why rush?

    I, for one, don't criticie Immergut's focus on eco-terrorism, even if the name is a little dramatic. You're right - arson undertaken with poltical intent isn't civil disobedience.

    Torridjoe - Mosman's ruling indicates that he believes the plaintiff has a high likelihood of prevailing. You may be right on the political timing, but that's more your area of expertise than mine. My point is that Smith actively courts gay support while appointing Mosman. What better time than now to make that point?

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    Posted by: anon | Jan 17, 2008 12:08:54 PM The only way this omination gets done pre-2009 is if people are in a rush. Why rush?

    And therein is the circle back to asking why they are so keen to get her a lifetime appointment to the bench as the sands run out on the Bush administration in being able to get nomination through before he steals the drapes. While there may be no smoking gun over pushing politically times investigations or suppressing damaging ones which it seems the other AG hirings/firings were about, I don't think it is off base to have suspensions she is a "Bushy" girl they want to get into the pipeline of the bench.

  • (Show?)

    Bleah... "...politically timed..."

  • (Show?)

    Chris Lowe | Jan 17, 2008 11:42:58 AM

    Your points about the Clinton andministration are dead on and well taken.

    The real danger here, whether the current Masters of the Universe are Republican or Democratic, is the concept of thought crime as any kind of valid issue.

    As for the Monkey Wrench Gang true believers, they should be vigorously prosecuted for illegal acts, just like the government employees who violate the Constitution to punish them.

    Ms. Immergut has failed to demonstrate that she grasps this basic principle and I hope that our Oregon delegation will oppose Smith's recommendation on her at least.

  • littlevoice (unverified)

    Perhaps I was a little harsh by saying there is zero substance to this post, it was early when I first read it. However, the comments are more enlightening on this "issue" than the actual post, and my only suggestion is that posts that serve as discussion starters offer more facts on the real issues and less histrionics. Otherwise, we have to wade through laughable comments such as someone named "anon" accusing me of being a republican troll because I posted anonymously. Anon, I dare you to make less sense.

    The accusations in the post are that Imergut is a potential Bush appointee, supported by Smith, who once interrogated Monica Lewinski, and didn't get fired by Rove. What? Let's see some more evidence that she has made poor decisions (as potentially evidenced by the Mayfield case), or that she only carries water for Bush (as potentially evidenced by the domestic terrorism charges...of course, I don't think anyone would accuse the judge in those cases of being a Bush hack and yet she upheld the charges in some instances, because it was the law), or that she's incapable of seeing both sides of an issue like a judge is required to do (which maybe she can if she's even switched parties). Again, some of the comments get us there, but I fear we start behind the 8-ball when the original post is so fast and loose.

    LV (anonymous and consistently so)

  • (Show?)

    Let's remember that it was the Reagan Administration that first wholesale politicized the appointment of Federal judges. Prior to 1981 Presidents of both parties made a concerted effort to appoint judges of both parties. But starting in 1981, when Reagan swept into office, a member of the White House staff (I went to college with this person and knew her reasonably well) was placed in charge of the ideological vetting of prospective judicial appointees. Her job was not only to make sure they were conservative enough, but also to make sure that they were YOUNG enough to redirect the Federal judiciary for a long time to come. All the young District Court judges were to serve as the farm team so that they would have a suitable amount of judicial experience when opportunities opened up on the Circuits or at the tip of the pyramid, the Supreme Court. Bush 41 and Bush 43, while perhaps not designating a single individual on staff to organize the effort, have followed the same playbook.

    Since that time there has been only one Democratic President, and let's also remember that at the end of President Clinton's term in office the Republican controlled Senate had bottled up more than 100 of his Federal judicial nominations, some for over a year, as they rolled the dice on the 2000 election. Perhaps that provides some context for our discussion.

    I am suspicious of anyone who changes parties (in either direction) for the sake of enhancing his or her career prospects, particularly when it's a young attorney -- it is always reasonable to assume that a young prosecutor who changes parties has an eye on a judgeship and is tailoring his or her presentation in order to have a better shot at it.

    In the case of Karin Immergut, as reported by WWeek, she went first D --> NAV and then NAV --> R. Here's the chain of events as they report it:

    Immergut, who was a Multnomah County deputy district attorney when she went to work for Starr, has called the job a young prosecutor’s dream. But it was one that came with a political price. A longtime Democrat, Immergut registered as nonpartisan shortly before going to work for Starr. After Bush took the White House, she registered as a Republican in December 2001—the same month that Mosman, the U.S attorney in Portland at the time, hired her on as a federal prosecutor.

    First of all, the pattern of her voter registrations betrays the most craven ambition and a raw and cynical desire to cultivate those who had the power to advance her career.

    Second, anyone who would say that working for Kenneth Starr was a young prosecutor's dream SHOULD NOT BE A FEDERAL JUDGE. Full stop.

    Let's remember that it's not as if there is some objective threshold over which a person should or should not be appointed to the Federal bench for life. All of this is subjective and in thrall to the vagaries of politics. Having said that, by switching parties, Karin Immergut made a high-stakes wager on the prospect that the switch would benefit her career. She has to live or die by the choice she made. It is not unfair or unreasonable for us as progressives to oppose her nomination for that same reason.

  • (Show?)

    Given the history of GOP judicial politics under Clinton, the hard-right cast of their judicial appointments philosophy, and the resultant skewing of the courts, I don't think Immergut should be supported for appointment as a federal judge.

    Her choice to see joining Ken Starr as a career-advancing opportunity and to jump at it, changing her political affiliation along the way, makes her seem like an opportunistic careerist of the first water who should not be trusted with a federal judgship.

    But the fact that Rove/Gonzales didn't fire her doesn't mean she did anything "to get on their good side." Where's the evidence she was ever off it? What she did to get on the Shrubbery's good side, & hence get her appointment, was to work for Ken Starr, pretty obviously. She absolutely is a Bush person, & was long before the firings.

    The implication that any U.S. attorney Rove/Gonzales didn't fire must have been doing creepy, unethical, borderline or outright illegal things to "get on their good side" is just way over the top.

    The folks they fired did things to get on their bad side. This question seems primarily relevant if she was actually faced with a choice with the potential to get on their bad side.

    Fine to ask if she did things that fit facing such a choice and making the wrong decision, & come back if you can find a situation that looks like that. But to ask what she did with the presumption that she must have done something untoward is unjustified & weak. We don't help ourselves in the long run if we make stuff up.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    Let's remember that it was the Reagan Administration that first wholesale politicized the appointment of Federal judges.

    Stephanie: I believe a closer look at the history of presidential appointments to the federal courts will prove your statement invalid. FDR tried to pack the Supreme Court with judges that suited his politics. And presidents before and since have tried the same tactic in all the federal courts.

  • (Show?)

    While Reagan is to blame for what he did and it does stick out... Bill is correct. FDR did it in a much bigger way because his was a showdown with the USSC itself.

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    I'm not saying that there were never any incidences of partisanship. I'm saying that partisan purity did not become the norm in any administration until Reagan. Trying to pack the Supreme Court (and change the law to get new seats to fill) is a very high profile gambit, and it failed. Sending 37-45 year old movement conservatives over for dozens of district court judgeships is the kind of thing that had never been done.

  • backbeat12 (unverified)

    And speaking of Reagan, Digby speaks for me RE: Obama invoking him yesterday.

    But to long time liberals who lived through this period as an adult, it's like waving a red flag in our faces. Reagan ran explicitly against the left(and in the process normalized the kind of indecent talk that made Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter millionaires.) Because he won big in 1984, leaders in both parties accepted this omnipotent Reagan myth and have run against liberalism ever since --- and have ended up, through both commission and omission, advancing the destructive conservative policies that brought us to a place where we are debating things like torture. It would be helpful if ending the era of Democrats running against the liberal base could be part of this new progressive "trajectory." http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2008/01/you-sir-are-no-ronald-reagan-by-digby.html

  • (Show?)

    What has Immergut done as U.S. attorney? Not much. Trying to plant a mole in Portland City Hall showed some guts, but I guess that went nowhere.

    Oregon's squeaky clean... just ask Hardy Myers!

  • anon (unverified)

    So this guy has problems with strong women getting positions of power. What's new. Yep, let's get a man in the office like God intended.

  • messieur t (unverified)

    B/O is constantly throwing manure at Gordo, just hoping that something will stick. Opposing the Immergut nomination furthers that goal, with the added benefit that (with sufficient delay), President Obama can select a liberal hack instead of a conservative one.

    Let there be no doubt: there is a political litmus test used by the left and the right when vetting candidates for a judicial appointment. Even for the Supremes. We all know it. We rarely know what the litmus test is comprised of, and we only sometimes get the results.

    If working for a special prosecutor is grounds for disqualification, then please explain why. If changing her party registration is grounds for disqualification, then just say so.

  • Thank You For Not Smoking Gun (unverified)


    You miss the point entirely. The problem is not that she switched parties or worked for a special prosecutor. The problem is that there is a pattern of using the law for her political ambition.

    Joining the team of a special prosecutor or independent counsel is not a per say problem. In fact, in many circumstances it would speak well of her abilities. For example, there would be no problem if she had worked with Archibald Cox or Lawrence Walsh. The problem is that she enthusiastically joined the Starr team (“a young prosecutor’s dream”) after it became clear that the investigation was a fishing operation, not a new Watergate. Extremely questionable terrorism prosecutions and a failed attempt to get into city government, after it pulled out of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, have marked her tenure as a US Attorney. On top of it all there is the Brandon Mayfield case, which still has enough unanswered questions make her a questionable choice for the federal bench.

  • messieur tee (unverified)

    You dislike her because she's too ambitious to become a Federal Judge? You don't actually think they just poll the bar for their top picks and then start interviewing the most qualified prospects?

    I haven't seen one shred of evidence that Immergut directed an FBI Agent to develop leads at Portland City Hall (Jack Bog's "mole" reference). FBI agents are not operating at the exclusive direction of the U.S. Attorney's office. Clearly, they both work for the Justice Department, but it's a dotted line relationship to the local U.S. Attorney.

    From FBI.GOVAlthough the FBI is responsible for investigating possible violations of federal law, the FBI does not give an opinion or decide if an individual will be prosecuted. The federal prosecutors employed by the Department of Justice or the U.S. Attorneys offices are responsible for making this decision and for conducting the prosecution of the case.

    So here's what we think we know:

    She's a woman. She used to be a Democrat, but later changed her party registration to Republican. She's ambitious. She's a lawyer. She worked for Kenneth Starr. She interviewed Monica Lewinsky.

    <h2>HHHMmmmmm? I don't think any of the above are judicial fitness deal breakers. If Immergut was an ambitious male lawyer who worked for Kenneth Starr as a Republican and later became a Democrat, I can't imagine BlueOregon would have a problem with him.</h2>

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