The Law: Executive Power and Prosecution: Lessons from the Libby Trial and the U.S. Attorney Firings

Authors

  • KATY J. HARRIGER

    Corresponding author
    1. Wake Forest University
      Katy J. Harriger is Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at Wake Forest University. She is the author of books and articles on the use of independent counsel in American politics and, more generally, on the separation of powers.
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Katy J. Harriger is Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at Wake Forest University. She is the author of books and articles on the use of independent counsel in American politics and, more generally, on the separation of powers.

Abstract

The tensions between law and politics in the federal administration of justice are long-standing and rooted in the expectation that the Department of Justice acts as both a presidential policy agency and an impartial prosecutor of federal crime. The investigation and trial of I. Lewis Libby by a special counsel (2003-7) and the scandal over the firing of U.S. attorneys by the George W. Bush administration (2006-7) demonstrate the challenges faced in trying to strike a balance between democratic accountability and the impartial administration of justice. Congressional and public confidence in the impartiality of the attorney general is the most important factor in managing these ever-present tensions.

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