It seems that U.S. Attorney Margaret Chiara of Michigan's Western District is the eighth
prosecutor to have been fired by the administration in recent months.
In a press release today, Chiara, who was nominated by President Bush in September, 2001, only said that she was resigning and that she'd step down March 16th. But according
to The Grand Rapids Press
, a district judge claims that Chiara was fired as part of the administration's wider purge:
The Justice Department has recently fired seven U.S. attorneys across the country. Chiara is the latest victim in the shake-up, U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell said this morning.
"I was shocked to learn that her resignation had been requested," Bell said. "She's clearly part of a larger pattern."
The paper notes that Chiara had clashed with the administration on the death penalty before, which she opposes, but there's no apparent reason for her resignation. Update
: I just spoke with Judge Bell, who says that he has no knowledge about whether Chiara was asked to step down: " I was not privy to what happened here with her," he told me, "I just got her resignation letter myself late yesterday." He said that he planned to "clarify" his remarks to the paper.
But he did say that Chiara was an "exemplary" U.S. Attorney in "every sense of the word" and "one of the best USAs we've ever had here." Her resignation, he said, certainly raised questions about whether it was tied into the other firings. Later Update
: Here is the only section of the press release from Chiara's office that deals with her stepping down (the remainder discusses her accomplishments in office):
United States Attorney Margaret M. Chiara announced that she is resigning her position as United States Attorney for the Western District of Michigan effective March 16, 2007. Ms. Chiara was nominated by President George W. Bush on September 4, 2001, and she was confirmed by the United States Senate on October 23, 2001. She is the first woman in the history of the State of Michigan to serve as a United States Attorney. Ms. Chiara intends to remain in public service.
What does it mean that she "intends to remain in public service?" Certainly sounds like she doesn't have a job lined up. A spokesperson for her office declined to elaborate beyond the release.So-Late-It's-The-Next-Day-Update
: The Washington Post reports
: "Sources familiar with the case confirmed that she was among a larger group of prosecutors who were first asked to resign Dec. 7."