They've got muck; we've got rakes. TPM Muckraker

Stalled Lewis Probe Rolls Backwards

Robert Iafolla reports in the Daily Journal:

Because of civil-service rules, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. attorney's office who just recently took over the probe of Rep. Jerry Lewis must exit the office for good by the end of September, marking the third significant departure from the office's corruption unit since Lewis first came under suspicion last year.

Michael Emmick, who first joined Los Angeles's U.S. attorney's office in 1982, has been serving under one-year appointments since 2004, after he triggered a contractual clause that will allow him to collect retirement benefits immediately upon leaving the office.

"I was under the impression I could continue to work as long as I liked" after taking early retirement status, Emmick said. "The [Los Angeles U.S. attorney's] office made requests, but DOJ said three years is enough."

Interim U.S. Attorney George S. Cardona said internal policy is designed to limit extensions. The Justice Department "extended it for important cases, but it finally got to the point that it was no longer willing to extend the temporary appointments," he said.

It's not clear from Cardona's remark why the Lewis case, which centers on whether Lewis abused his position atop the House appropriations committee, wouldn't qualify as an "important" case.

The AP picks up the story today and puts the news, fittingly, in the broader context of the U.S. attorney firings scandal. Remember that Yang left office just before the firings, leading Democrats to question whether she'd been forced out -- speculation stoked by news that then-White House counsel Harriet Miers had discussed replacing her. The fact that she'd joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, the firm that's defending Lewis, intensified the scrutiny. Yang herself has insisted that she left voluntarily in order to cash in (she's a single mom, she explained) and that she'd been recused from the Lewis case at her new firm.

Progress overnight on deployment of new commenting system. We hope to move into a short beta-testing phase shortly.