Manuel Miranda is, perhaps, the most vocal conservative calling on the GOP to filibuster Sonia Sotomayor–an ironic fact given Miranda’s long history of opposing judicial filibusters. But he’s also been the subject of a thorough investigation by former Senate Sergeant at Arms William Pickle.
Miranda became mired in controversy several years ago, after he and a fellow Senate Judiciary Committee aide distributed thousands of pages of Democratic memos–supposedly documenting the minority members’ ties to liberal interest groups–to friendly reporters and conservative activists from late 2001 until early 2003.
The two aides–Miranda and Jason Lundell–worked in concert. Lundell had learned how to access private Democratic documents by observing the keystrokes of a young system administrator, who didn’t realize that many files on the committee server were unprotected. Armed with an ill-begotten password, Lundell accessed reams of forbidden memos, which he brought to his superiors who initially scolded him and advised him to burn the evidence.
Enter Manny Miranda.Miranda came aboard at the committee after the initial breach, and told Lundell there was nothing wrong with accessing, filing, and distributing the documents. And that’s exactly what they did. Thousands of leaks later, Miranda went to work for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who ultimately fired him after news of the hacking came to light.
When the memos appeared in the pages of the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Times, Senate Democratic leaders demanded Pickle conduct an investigation. Soon thereafter, Judiciary Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch announced that two staffers–one current, one former–had engaged in “improper, unethical and simply unacceptable breach of confidential files.”
He was referring, of course, to Lundell–whom he placed on leave–and Miranda himself.
Conservatives rallied to Miranda’s defense, calling the investigation a witch hunt. Miranda himself insisted he had done nothing wrong–that the real scandal was Democrats’ ties to liberal interest groups and that, by leaving their files unprotected, they were asking for it.
Pickle, however, came to a rather different conclusion.
His March 2004 report found that Miranda’s conduct met “criteria for possible referrals for disciplinary action and for criminal prosecution to the Department of Justice,” suggesting that Miranda had lied to investigators, breached ethical standards and, possibly, violated Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and other criminal statutes.
Miranda beseeched the Republican members of the Judiciary Committee not to refer his case to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation. But that’s exactly what they did. (For this act of betrayal, Miranda later said Hatch, “one shouldn’t play hardball with a limp-wristed team captain.”
Though he was never charged with a crime, Miranda was ultimately shunted into the world of right wing activism. The former chair of the American Bar Association called his actions “an extraordinary violation.” But that didn’t stop the Bush Administration from making Miranda Director of the Office of Legislative Statecraft in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. After completing that job–with apparently little success–Miranda got back into the political fray and is now calling on some of the same Republicans who kicked him off the hill to filibuster Sotomayor.
His efforts, though, seem to be stalling, and as a result, he’s resorting to some familiar insults. Just today, Miranda called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “limp-wristed” and “a little bit tone deaf” vis-a-vis Democratic judicial nominees, telling Manu Raju of Politico that McConnell should “consider resigning” if he doesn’t join the chorus on the far right attacking Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee.
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