Sen. Tester calls on U.S. Attorney to resign

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Montana) called on Bill Mercer, the third-ranking Justice Department official, to resign his post as U.S. Attorney for Montana.

Tester said Mercer was "operating outside federal law" by serving as acting associate attorney general in Washington, D.C. while holding down his Montana job. U.S. Attorneys are supposed to reside in they district they serve.

But after a federal judge raised questions about the arrangement, Mercer inserted a provision in the USA Patriot Act to protect both of his positions, The Washington Post reported. "That might work in Alberto Gonzales's Justice Department, but it's not how we do business in Montana," Tester said.

Mercer only spends three days a month in Montana, The Post said. He has testified about the Bush administration's $7 billion Indian trust settlement proposal.

In related news, DOJ officials said they are investigating a former aide to Gonzales for allegedly asking career federal prosecutors about their political affiliation in violation of law and policy. The aide, Monica Goodling, resigned amid her role in the U.S. Attorney scandal.

Get the Story:
Tester Calls on Montana U.S. Attorney to Resign (The Washington Post 5/3)
Tester calls on Mercer to resign (The Billings Gazette 5/3)
Tester asks for Mercer's resignation after report (The Great Falls Tribune 5/3)
Ex-Aide to Gonzales Accused Of Bias (The Washington Post 5/3)
Justice Dept. Announces Inquiry Into Its Hiring (The New York Times 5/3)

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