Cunningham Prosecutor Forced Out

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The epic Duke Cunningham scandal gets weirder: Carole Lam, the San Diego U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the corrupt former lawmaker, is being quietly pushed out by the Bush administration. Lam’s office has recently been troubling the CIA and Capitol Hill by pushing for documents related to the Cunningham investigation.

According to this morning’s San Deigo Union-Tribune, the White House’s reason for giving her the axe is that she “failed to make smuggling and gun cases a top priority.” But most folks the paper talked to — supporters and detractors — said that sounded like a load of hooey.

A belated attempt at a cover-up? That doesn’t quite fit. It’s not like the Cunningham investigation has earned a place in the Great Scandal Prosecutions Hall of Fame. There have been signs of trouble all along. There was the strange decision to throw him in jail before ensuring he told everything he knew, as well as evidence of poor coordination between the numerous federal agencies involved in investigating the fiasco. If the administration for some reason didn’t want the truth to come out about what the Cunningham scandal touched — well, many folks thought all they had to do was sit back and let the probes tangle themselves in knots.

The paper raises the possibility that Lam isn’t the only U.S. Attorney who’s being pushed out. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told the paper in a statement, “We don’t know how many U.S. Attorneys have been asked to resign – it could be two, it could be ten, it could be more. No one knows.”