Bush Scandals List

197. Bill Mercer and the US Attorney scandal

Another wrinkle on the US attorney scandal. On June 22, 2007, Bill Mercer Acting Associate Attorney General (from September 2006) withdrew his nomination for the permanent No. 3 position at the DOJ 4 days before his confirmation hearings. Mercer has been US attorney for Montana since April 20, 2001. In June 2005, he was given a second position as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General in Washington. On October 20, 2005, US District Chief Judge Donald Molloy of Billings informed Attorney General Gonzales that Mercer was in violation of federal law since he no longer lived in the district. On November 10, 2005, Gonzales wrote back to the judge stating that Mercer still had a domicile there, returned on a regular basis, and would return permanently as soon as his "temporary" assignment was finished. The same day at Mercer’s request, Brett Tolman (who had snuck in the interim US attorney language into the Patriot Act extension) inserted a second provision which allowed US attorneys to live outside their districts and hold other jobs. Mercer’s confirmation hearing would have raised embarrassing questions about his role as an absentee US attorney and changing the language in the Patriot Act. His name also appeared in emails concerning the US attorney firings. He has stated his intention to return to his US attorney position in Montana.

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