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Meet the new boss? Same as the old boss ... page 2

Adam Lambert
Original Publication Date

4. Former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson:

In 2005, Thompson was mentioned as a potential Supreme Court nominee before the appointment of Samuel Alito. Currently, Thompson serves in the private sector as Senior Vice President Government Affairs, General Counsel and Secretary for PepsiCo. He is a close friend of Justice Clarence Thomas (he was also a witness and advisor for Thomas during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings), and was the Deputy Attorney General under John Ashcroft until 2004, when he left the Justice Department for a position with the Brookings Institute before moving on to his position with PepsiCo.

According to the Washington Post article cited above, Thompson handled prosecution of both anti-terrorism and corporate crimes:

In addition to his daily involvement in the department's stepped-up efforts to uncover terrorist threats, Thompson has also headed the corporate crime task force pursuing prosecutions against industry giants including Enron Corp., Worldcom Inc. and HealthSouth Corp.

Thompson had two stints with and was a partner in the Atlanta law firm of King & Spalding, specializing in civil and criminal litigation. According to his bio on the Brookings website, he also served as U.S. Attorney in Georgia:

Thompson, appointed by President Bush, was confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2001. As deputy attorney general, he spearheaded the administration's Corporate Fraud Task Force, created in July 2002 as part of an effort to prevent corporate scandals and restore investor confidence in the marketplace. Immediately after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Thompson served as chairman of the president's National Security Coordination Council, which was charged with assessing vulnerabilities in the nation's private, governmental, and industrial sectors.

Before going to the Justice Department, Thompson was a partner at the Atlanta law firm King and Spalding, where he specialized in civil and criminal litigation. In 1982, he was appointed by President Reagan to serve as U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia. During his four years as U.S. attorney, Thompson directed the Southeastern Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and served on the attorney general's Economic Crime Council.

Out of all of the possible names being floated as a potential replacement, it would seem as if Thompson has the most qualifications and the least controversy.

5. Former Solicitor General Theodore Olson:

According to his bio from the Department of Justice:

Mr. Olson served President Reagan as Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel from 1981 to 1984. Before being named to that post, he was a partner in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he practiced constitutional, media, commercial and appellate litigation. After completing his service as Assistant Attorney General, Mr. Olson returned to Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, in its Washington, D.C. office, engaging in the practice of constitutional and appellate law and general litigation, and served as Partner-in-Charge of that office, on the firm's Executive and Management Committees and as co-chair of the firm's Appellate and Constitutional Law Practice Group.

Olson also argued a number of cases before the Supreme Court, including the one he may be remembered for the most: Bush v. Gore in 2000. He also argued Cheney v. US regarding the disclosure of information related to Cheney's energy commission. Olson has been repeatedly linked with highly partisan issues and if nominated, his confirmation hearings would certainly be tenuous. When he was nominated for Solicitor General, a vote was held up by the Senate Judiciary Committee due to questions surrounding his involvement (and his responses regarding) the Arkansas Project, which was a $2.4 million project financed by Richard Scaife in the American Spectator to "dig up dirt on President Clinton."

According to a former publisher of American Spectator, Olson was not forthcoming with the Senate regarding his involvement in the Arkansas Project:

Ronald Burr confirmed to a friend and advisor that Olson was centrally involved in the Arkansas Project -- and led the charge to fire him after Burr demanded an audit.


Olson has adamantly asserted that he in no way played any part in managing the operation, and has claimed not to have heard about it until late in its life span, though he has been inconsistent in his answers about when he first learned of the project.

Now, on the day that Republicans are forcing a vote on Olson's confirmation, a friend and advisor to Ronald Burr, the deposed publisher of the American Spectator who once called for an internal "fraud audit" of the Arkansas Project, has written a letter faxed to Salon, [reprinted below]. According to previous reports in Salon, Olson was reported to have negotiated Burr's $350,000 severance package, which included "a provision that bars Burr from ever publicly discussing the circumstances surrounding his removal." Lemley says he played the role of "counselor and advisor to Ron during the events that led to his release by the American Spectator after thirty years of service." Lemley claims he learned from Burr that Olson knew of the Arkansas Project "if not in name then in its actions from the start, and Ted Olson led the charge to fire Ron Burr, the only executive at the American Spectator who had sought a forensic audit of the Arkansas Project."

Olsen's involvement was further confirmed by an investigation by Murray Waas:

An investigation by Murray Waas revealed that Olson "provided legal advice to both the American Spectator and the Arkansas Project," in addition to serving on the boards of four conservative political groups funded by Richard Mellon Scaife, the reclusive Pittsburgh billionaire who has funded and has ties to many prominent right-wing groups, including the Federalist Society, which has served as a veritable breeding ground for Bush's judiciary appointments. Both Olson and his then-colleague John Mintz at the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher advised the Arkansas Project from its inception in 1993. "Olson is somebody who Scaife would trust to see that nothing went wrong and that his money would not be wasted," a source told Waas at the time.

Olson was also involved in the legal representation of an oil tycoon who was suspiciously pardoned at the end of George H.W. Bush's administration:

The elder Bush delivered a few highly questionable pardons well before his last days in office. The very first of his presidency went to Armand Hammer, the legendary oilman best known for his relationships with Soviet leaders dating back to Lenin. In an investigation that grew out of Watergate, Hammer had pleaded guilty in 1975 to laundering $54,000 in illicit contributions to Nixon's reelection war chest. By the summer of 1989, when Bush gave Hammer what he wanted, the aging chief of Occidental Petroleum had been pestering government officials on his own behalf for several years.

Considering his original offense, it was ironic that Hammer won what he called the "vindication" of a presidential pardon only months after he poured well over $100,000 into Republican Party coffers, and another $100,000 into the accounts of the Bush-Quayle Inaugural committee.


At the time, Hammer's pardon made news, partly because his request had been turned down by President Reagan several months earlier. But nobody seemed to notice the nexus between the oilman's generosity to Bush and the new president's mercy upon Hammer.


Another intriguing fact went almost unnoticed back then, too. Hammer's team of attorneys included not only a close friend of Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, but also a very close friend of Bush's new White House counsel C. Boyden Gray, whose job included passing on pardon requests to the president. The Gray pal hired to help Hammer was a former Reagan Justice Department official named Theodore B. Olson.

Clearly, Olson would be the one candidate whose past would be most subject to scrutiny if he is nominated as a replacement for Attorney General Gonzales. In fact, his nomination may not even pass the confirmation process, given the long history of questionable actions and his track record with the Republican Party.

Even with all of the speculation and calls for resignation or the ouster of Attorney General Gonzales, this is unlikely to be resolved in the short term. Since the White House and Congress have been squaring off on every issue - from Iraq to the US Attorney firings to Executive Privilege claims and many other matters, and given the history between Gonzales and President Bush, we may not see Gonzales resign or be fired unless he is facing impeachment and conviction. However, in light of the fact that a number of people are being mentioned as future candidates for Attorney General, it behooves us to find out a bit more about these potential candidates.

About the Author: Adam Lambert is a tax consultant living and working in the New York City area.  Blogging under the name “clammyc," he has researched and written extensively on issues involving Iraq, the Bush administration and the “war on terror.”

ePluribus Media Contributors: avahome, standingup, Aaron Barlow, cho, kfred & roxy