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The Crisis Within

The latest reporting on the DOJ scandal reveals something quite remarkable. The lawlessness and contempt for the Constitution displayed by the Bush administration drove up to 30 conservative Republican political appointees to the brink of a mass resignation. Money quote from Isikoff and Thomas:

Appalled by the White House's heavy-handed attempt to coerce the gravely ill attorney general, virtually the entire top leadership of the Justice Department is threatening to resign. The group includes the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum and the chief of the Criminal Division, Chris Wray. Some of them gather in the conference room of Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who describes Ashcroft's bravely turning away the president's men from his hospital bed. The mood that night in the conference room was tense and sober. "This was a showdown," says a former senior Justice Department official who was there. "Everybody understood the choice they were making and the gravity of the situation. Everybody knew what the stakes were." A different source estimated that as many as 30 top DOJ officials would have resigned.

Marty Lederman ponders the scale of the crisis here.