Here’s my Washington Post op-ed on crony Attorneys General over the past century:
Some suggest Matthew G. Whitaker’s appointment as acting attorney general is unprecedented. It is likely unconstitutional, but, unfortunately, it is not new. After about 150 years of mostly professional attorneys general, a long line of insiders, hacks, cronies and fixers has occupied the office for much of the past century, and has too often damaged the rule of law.
President Trump’s appointment of Whitaker is a steep drop off a slippery slope of corruption. It’s time to make the Justice Department more structurally independent from presidents and their meddling.
Unfortunately, there are even precedents for presidents appointing crony attorneys general as protection from investigation…
This op-ed proposes reforms to check the Attorney General with independent commissioners and a formally independent Office of Legal Counsel. The model borrows from independent agencies like the Fed and the SEC, but balances independence with enough presidential control and political accountability.
For more, see my earlier post and draft paper.
And it connects with this project on state prosecutors, mass incarceration (building on my colleague John Pfaff and “Locked In”) and my book project, “rise of the prosecutor politicians.”