Press Releases

Washington, DC A day after the Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation that would require Senate confirmation of all U.S. Attorneys, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) reiterated her view that high-ranking officials of the Department of Justice and the White House should come before the Senate to testify in public and under oath.

Yesterday, the Senate passed legislation that Feinstein sponsored with Senators Specter, Leahy, and Schumer that would reinstate the process for appointing U.S. Attorneys that was in place before 2006. 

The legislation would allow the Attorney General to appoint interim U.S. Attorney for 120 days.  If after that time the President has not sent up a nominee to the Senate and had that nominee confirmed, then the authority to appoint an interim U.S. Attorney would fall to the district court.  This was the law from 1986 to 2006. 

The following is a statement Senator Feinstein made at a Judiciary Committee Hearing today:

“Mr. Chairman, you have negotiated with Mr. Fielding.  I have read his letter.  Frankly, it is not acceptable. 

You have made very clear statements, which have been carried on nationwide television about where this Committee is -- that any testimony will be done in public, under oath, and recorded.  I think that is appropriate.  And I believe very strongly that we should stand by that statement. 

Tomorrow we will have a chance to do so.  I very much hope we will. 

I remember a private interview sitting at this table down here with Mr. McNulty.  When he brought up the performance of these US Attorneys, I recall what he said. 

In many respects I wish that could have been public.  Because then the performance reports were revealed.  And it turned out that the performance reports of the very people he was saying were being terminated, on the basis of performance, were all excellent.  I believe the public is entitled to know that information. 

And now the issue has been joined.  And the White House is in a bunker mentality.  They won’t listen.  They won’t change.  I believe there is even more to come out.  And I think it is our duty to bring that out. 

I happened to hear my very distinguished colleague from Texas on the floor speaking about the President’s right to make appointments.  And yes, we all know the President has the right to make these appointments.  But pattern and practice plays a role. 

And virtually every Administration has replaced U.S. Attorneys of the prior Administration and put in their own.  But once they are in, by and large, they have remained. 

There never in history has been a time when the phone was picked up on one day and a number were fired, with no cause was given.  They were fired and terminated.  They were told to leave office by Jan 15.  And no explanation was given. 

And then we were given one explanation, and then that explanation changed.  First, performance.  Then, it was policy.  And then, ‘we can do better.’  And it’s been a slippery slope of explanations.  And I think we need to look more deeply into this. 

Five of the seven who were called on that very day were involved in public corruption cases.  And I think we have an obligation to know what was the genesis of this move.  Why was this put together in the way in which it was?  I don’t believe we’ll get that in a private interview, unrecorded, with people not under oath.  I really do not.

And yes, I’m angry. Because we’ve had the San Diego U.S. Attorney, an excellent one, terminated.   A San Francisco U.S. Attorney terminated.  Shortly prior to that time, the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney resigned.  I don’t know whether she was asked to resign or not.  But the fact is, she did.  We are a big state; these are big jurisdictions, with big cases ongoing.  And I care very much that the right reasons prevailed here. 

My point is that I am one that urges you to be strong.  You have laid out the parameters, and I think they are the correct parameters, and we should issue those subpoenas.”