December 10th, 2008
03:55 PM ET
13 years ago

Schumer urges Obama team to keep Fitzgerald as U.S. attorney

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Schumer wants Fitzgerald to stay on."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the midst of a corruption investigation concerning Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the incoming Obama administration is being urged to keep veteran U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald on the job.

Those doing the urging include Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, who sits on the Judiciary Committee. Fitzgerald's office is heading the politically sensitive probe which is likely to continue for months.

"The U.S. Attorney for Chicago has a deserved reputation of being totally non-political and totally on the merits and a tough and strong prosecutor, and I think leaving it in his hands is exactly the right way to go. And I think all... that President-elect Obama and his incoming administration have to say is
just that - we are going to leave it in Fitzgerald's hands because we have faith in him," Schumer told reporters Wednesday after he met with Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder.

U.S. attorneys are political appointees and serve at the pleasure of the president.

Schumer said he knew of "no intention to remove Patrick Fitzgerald" from his job but has not been told he will be retained by any Obama transition official. "I don't think there is any thought whatsoever of changing the U.S. Attorney in Chicago with these very, very troubling and important times," he said.

While the veteran New York Senator did say he thought the new White House should ask for all current U.S. Attorneys to resign - the common practice when a new president takes office - he said Fitzgerald should be told to stay on. Fitzgerald, who has said he is a political independent, has drawn bipartisan praise for leading fair and thorough probes and for not succumbing to partisan influences. His office has overseen investigations of both Democrats and Republicans, and he was appointed special counsel to investigate the leaking of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to the media.

That inquiry led to the indictment and conviction of then Vice Presidential Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby.
The Bush administration found itself in the middle of a political firestorm after its decision in 2005 to fire nine U.S. attorneys without giving them exact reasons, leading critics to charge the actions were politically

Filed under: Charles Schumer
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Mike in Texas

    Looks like Schumer knows that PE Obama's likely reaction will be to fire the investigating attorney and thus derail any investigation.

    Not real change at all in the incoming adminstration.

    December 10, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  2. N. S. Huntsville, Al

    Schumer mind your business if Obama wants to keep he knows what to do, just beat it.

    December 10, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  3. Precious Coker, NY

    In Chicago politics, the fear of Pat Fitz is the begining of "political wisdom"

    December 10, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  4. karen-phoenix

    Good man. Obama will keep him. What a lot of you must remember, Obama was not raised in Chicago. He was raised in Hawaii with very pure and honest virtues. With dreams and visions of goodness and that is what Obama wants for IL and America!!! A dream? Maybe but it is possible! Read "Audacity of Hope"–its all their!!

    December 10, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  5. angel

    arm twisting Obama to comply to things like these? This politics is so corrupt.

    December 10, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. Rockford

    Let him finish the job... but I imagine Obama will get rid of him as fast as possible... given:

    "The newspaper also reported that Mrs. Blagojevich also had a long business relationship with Antonin "Tony" Rezko, the Chicago developer and former Obama fundraiser who was convicted on fraud charges earlier this year. The Blagojeviches reportedly refuse to disclose how much the real estate company made off Rezko."

    I'm hoping Vegas takes odds on who will be the first to cut a deal... and spill ALL the beans.

    December 10, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Leo

    I live in Florida. I voted for Ralph Nader in 1996 and 2000. I don't regret it. At the time, Bill Clinton and Al Gore had moved the Democratic Party to the center/left. Gore won the election but it was close enough for Bush and his right-wing cronies to steal it.

    Now, I went against my instincts and principles in 2008 and voted for Obama. But, based on this story and his center/right cabinet appointments, it appears as though progressives like me got burned. It won't happen again. So, all you Clinton/Obama Democrats, be prepared to pay the price the way the Republicans paid the price this year. Because it will come if this keeps up. This country is in miseralbe shape and the politicians, Wallstreet and Big Business only seem to care about themselves.

    My apologies to Ralph Nader and even the Green Party for not sticking with my core beliefs and instead voting for false hope. This is all very sad indeed:(

    December 10, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. Mike

    What a photo ! I wouldn't let this individual be my child's school bus driver ! ! !

    December 10, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  9. Biff

    Schumer, I basically agree.
    But I do wish Fitzgerald had this level of 'outrage' while investigating the outing of a CIA operative. He basically gave up because of the "numerous barriers thrown up" and the sand being thrown in his eyes" to cover up.

    he basically gave up... so he would up indicting an underling (libby)... then watched him make a (silence for pardon) deal.... get convicted... and go free.

    December 10, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  10. Nimi from NY

    May be that's why he did what he did yesterday. It's possible he heard that Obama might have someone else in mind for the job and he decided to show him how tough he can be on crime and corruption.

    December 10, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. Get over it

    Why keep him, other than so that he can continue the coverup.

    The whistle was blown WAY TOO EARLY on this case.

    December 10, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Ken

    I would agree with Schumer, except I find it suspicious that the US attorney that couldn't competently track down and prosecute the treasonous behavior in the Bush administration is now calling the typical slimey corruption we unfortunately see all-to-often in politicians a "new low". Oh really? Trying to sell-off a senate seat is indeed pretty pathetic, but is it in fact lower than endangering the lives of our CIA agents by outing them? At the very least, where was all this accusatory and disdainful rhetoric from Mr. Fitzgerald when he was pursuing the criminals in the white house?

    I smell a [R] turd.

    December 10, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Capn Al

    When he's finished with Blegocrookovitch, name him special counsel to investigate the corrupt administration of George W. Bush.

    December 10, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. Greed is not good

    Patrick has been one of the more aggressive prosecutors in recent history...definitely deserves to be recognized for his hard work.

    December 10, 2008 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  15. STACY


    December 10, 2008 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  16. Michael Templer

    In my Opinion he should have been named attorney General

    there is no working-known in the political spectrum

    with the creditability of Fitzgerald

    he has all the credentials

    and his office have Scooter Libby and Tony Rezko on his wall.

    December 10, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  17. Independent_me

    Obama has the right to put whomever he wants in that position. Every other President has done just that – regardless of pending cases or investigations.

    If he puts his own choice in, I believe that person will throw the book at that Governot scum-bag...precisely because it is a highly publicized case and it will send a powerful message to politicians that Obama means business and is not going to tolerate this sort of thing.

    December 10, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  18. Richard Larson

    I expect that since those in Justice who will be , and have probably done so, vetting all of the U.S. Attorneys now holding office, will do so with the notion that honest performance of their duties will be the criterium for being retained in office. Thei Democratic administration must prove to the people that merit and performance are what keeps people in their jobs, not partisan politics.

    Mr. Fitzgerald has demonstrated those qualities very publically. I would expect that somewhere down the road he will, if he wants, be nominated to the federal bench. I think he is much more qualified than almost every judge appointed by Bush.

    December 10, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  19. martin

    afraid of Obama looking like he's part of the corruption if he gets rid of Fitzgerald who is prosecuting Blagojevich?

    December 10, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  20. Willy Brown

    liberal trash schmuer

    December 10, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. Molly Weasley

    This story needs to include the information that Obama HAS said he wants to keep Fitzgerald.

    December 10, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. Jack

    I say hire him on as the next attorney general.

    The guy is golden.

    December 10, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. Sally

    I'm not sure why there's speculation. Obama has over the past couple years repeatedly expressed his confidence in Fitzgerald and supporting his continued appointment.

    December 10, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  24. Lynn

    Has PE Obama even indictaed that he is going to replace Futzgerald? He has praised him and deferred to his investigation. Too many politicians, and pundits are trying to get their name in print blowing hot air!!

    December 10, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  25. brenda

    yea leave fitz in there UNTIL he finds that obama or other washington dems/aides are going to be on trouble and then Kick him out the door!

    December 10, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
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