By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
Attorney general nominee Michael B. Mukasey calls GOP presidential hopeful Rudolph W. Giuliani a "good friend" in new documents released by the Senate yesterday and said he repeatedly recused himself as a federal judge from cases involving the former New York mayor.
Mukasey, who has been named by President Bush to succeed Alberto R. Gonzales as head of the troubled Justice Department, said he did not raise funds for Giuliani but "distributed information on his behalf and encouraged individuals to support his candidacy" from February to September of this year.
Those and other details of Mukasey's longtime friendship with Giuliani are included in a 46-page package of documents provided in response to a questionnaire from the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is expected to hold hearings on Mukasey's nomination later this month.
The committee's chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), has not scheduled a date for Mukasey's hearing because he and other Democrats are negotiating with the White House for access to internal administration documents related to last year's U.S. attorney firings, the government's warrantless surveillance program and other sensitive issues.
"The committee will work to evaluate this nomination as efficiently as possible, while performing fully the committee's constitutional role and taking care to ensure that the next attorney general will answer to the principles of justice and law, not to any political party," Leahy said in a statement.
The records released yesterday include financial disclosure documents describing Mukasey's net worth as $3.6 million, including a personal residence valued at $2.5 million and mortgage debt of just under $700,000. He has $78,000 in the bank, more than $1.5 million in retirement and investment accounts and continues to receive his judiciary salary, as do all former federal judges, the records show.
The written responses span almost a half-century of Mukasey's varied career, from his brief stint as a lowly reporter covering street violence for United Press International to his long tenure as a U.S. district judge and later chief judge in the Southern District of New York. Mukasey portrays the chief judgeship as demanding and notes that he oversaw the court's adoption of electronic case files and its recovery from the Sept. 11 attacks.
"I was ultimately responsible for ensuring that the court continued to run, even in the face of events such as the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and a later blackout," he wrote.
Mukasey also detailed a long list of recusals from various cases, including many involving Giuliani and others that suggest a careful attention to possible conflicts. He said he disqualified himself from one lawsuit against Pfizer because his wife used the prescription drug in question; he withdrew from another case against American Express because he had "an outstanding (albeit minor) billing dispute" with the company.
But Mukasey also noted several cases in which he refused demands by defense attorneys to recuse himself, including claims by a defendant connected to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing case who questioned Mukasey's fairness because of his "hypothesized support for political Zionism and the State of Israel."
The documents reveal more details about Mukasey's frequent connections to journalism, both as a cub reporter and later as a high-powered private attorney representing Dow Jones, the New York Daily News and other media companies. Mukasey said he was able to locate two of his UPI articles "through a diligent search," including one headlined "Riots On Again in New Jersey," from the Western Kansas Press on Aug. 4, 1964.
Mukasey used the racial terminology of the time in the story, describing a "full-scale riot" in Jersey City that included a shooting. "The violence flared when a gang of Negroes leaped on a police car and tried to overturn it," one paragraph reads, according to a copy of the article.
The news was better 11 days later in another New Jersey city: "Streets Calm in Paterson," read the headline on Mukasey's dispatch.
Research director Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.