If my friend Rachel Paulose were a liberal Democrat, she would be a celebrity. Serving as the United States attorney for Minnesota, she is the first woman, the first immigrant (Indian), the first Asian, and, at age 34, the youngest attorney ever to hold the position. A graduate of Yale Law School, she has compiled an impressive academic record and stellar professional credentials. She’s not a liberal Democrat, however, she is a conservative Republican, and she has been the subject of an old-fashioned, low-tech media lynching.
After graduation from law school, Paulose clerked for Chief Judge James Loken at the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. After her clerkship she entered the Justice Department’s Honors Program and worked as a trial attorney in the department’s civil-rights division. Returning home to Minnesota, she worked for three years as a federal prosecutor in the office she now heads. Heading back to Washington, she worked at Williams and Connolly with David Kendall (the Clintons’ personal attorney) before heading back to the Justice Department where she worked as senior counsel to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty.
When United States Attorney Tom Heffelfinger resigned as the United States attorney for Minnesota, Paulose was appointed to succeed him in March 2006. She has served since then in that capacity and was confirmed unanimously by the Senate after midnight just before the adjournment of the last Congress. Since the Bush administration’s firing of eight United States attorneys in December 2006 was turned into a faux scandal of epic proportions, Paulose has become a target of career prosecutors in her office.
In a page-one story earlier this week, the New York Times framed Paulose’s continued service as raising a test of new Attorney General Michael Mukasey. The Times more or less called on the Mukasey to fire Paulose. Among the counts in the Times’s bill of particulars against Paulose, she was deemed “representative of much that went wrong at the department under Alberto R. Gonzales” (although it also acknowledged that she “has not been accused of bringing politically motivated prosecutions.”) So how is she a symbol of much that went wrong under Gonzales? She was named to her post in part because she is a Republican; the Times is apparently unfamiliar with the nature of political appointments. In the “are you now or have you ever been?” category beloved by the Times, Paulose is also identified as a member of the Federalist Society.
The Times rehashes the story that “Paulose is the focus of a wide-ranging investigation by the Office of Special Counsel.” This seems a grandiose characterization of the charge that Paulose retaliated against the office’s former first assistant by demoting him after he reported her for a purported security violation. Paulose has never responded publicly to leaked accounts of the charge. In fact, according to Paulose, she self-reported the incident to the Justice Department and was absolved of any security violation. As for the alleged retaliation, the Times omits to mention that the first assistant voluntarily resigned his managerial position to return to his post as assistant United States attorney, as the Times itself reported in its aptly headlined April 7, 2007, story “Deputies to a U.S. Attorney step down.” Did the former first assistant retaliate against himself?