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Cary's Corner Runaway Investigation

Posted on Dec 5, 2011 10:23am

­Another week, another political battle at work over our investigation into judicial bribery. Despite being an appointed position, a Special Prosecutor can often come into conflict with the appointers. Wendy Scott Carr has shifted the focus of our investigation, but she ensured that she had political cover as she did so. There's no way that the "reborn" Peter Florrick can cut­ off her investigation into his wife's firm without it looking like Chicago politics as usual – doing favors for friends, however corrupt. It was a savvy move on her part. Special Prosecutors are frequently told to pursue the truth vigorously, wherever it leads, but if the investigation leads somewhere too close to home, that prosecutor is the one who pay­s. The most famous example of this was the "Saturday Night Massacre" on October 20, 1973. Attorney General Elliot Richardson appointed Archibald Cox, who was teaching at my alma mater at the time, to lead the independent investigation into the Watergate scandal. It was essential that someone from outside the DOJ lead the investigation. Of course, once it was set on its path it resulted in the discovery of Nixon's now infamous tapes. When those tapes were subpoenaed, Nixon refused to hand them over, offering instead to allow a hard-of-hearing senator to summarize them. Cox rejected this offer, and the next day, Nixon demanded that Richardson remove Cox as Special Prosecutor. Elliot Richardson refused and resigned that night as Attorney General. Shortly thereafter, Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus did the same. Eventually, the Solicitor General Robert Bork, urged by Richardson to stay at the Justice Department, assumed the position of Acting Attorney General and dismissed Cox. The situation in the SA's office is not as dramatic as this. There are no late night calls demanding dismissals… Not yet anyway. I've spoken frankly to Peter Florrick about this: I believe Wendy Scott Carr has her own goals for the investigation and is prioritizing them above the stated mission. But Peter's mind is already made up... I admire his commitment to making what he calls "his second chance" as ethical as possible. But Wendy Scott Carr has an equally forceful will and I have no doubt she'll take this investigation wherever she pleases, with or without Peter's approval.