Integrity and Transparency: Challenges for the Obama Administration
Panel of Professor Roland Hjorth, Egil Krogh and John McKay moderated by Justice Bobbe Bridge
Transcript from April 7, 2009 Alumni Breakfast Event
We are going to have our program today, "Integrity and Transparency:
Challenges for the Obama Administration." As we'll discover, with any
administration, we have this intersection of the opportunities of
governance, but also the temptations of power.
This is something that is a perpetual challenge for every
administration, for every individual going into public service, of how
to do the public's work, how to use those reins of power, but in a way
that is true to the capacity and to the integrity of institutions and
true to the public's expectations that our government be responsive,
transparent, effective. Oftentimes, these seem more like ideals, very
difficult to attain. But as we'll see, if we lose sight of that
compass, you're in shoal waters really, really quick. And it's so
important just to keep those things in mind as we go forward.
got a wonderful panel this morning. The thought is that I'll just
introduce the panelists, and as I go through their introductions, if
they could come to the dais here, and we'll just launch into our
Our moderator this morning is going to be Justice Bobbe
Bridge of the class of 1976. And as often, who better? A splendid
background in every aspect of public life and public service here in
Washington State. Best known, of course, for her service on the
Washington State Supreme Court, but so much that went before that: the
first woman at the Garvey Schubert firm, who was hired as an associate
and then later moving on to partner from there.
She and her
husband Jon have been absolute pillars in the civic life of this
community, and most recently focused on projects for the welfare of
children, having established the Bobbe and Jon Bridge Endowed
Professorship at our law school in child advocacy, and a major program
now to protect the welfare of children at risk.
panelist is our own dean, Ron Hjorth, who's a graduate of the
University of Nebraska, a Fulbright Fellow, and then a Root-Tilden
Fellow while at the NYU Law School, practiced for a time with the Paul
Weiss firm in New York.
We've just been graced to have him do his
life's work here, in Seattle, and at the University of Washington. A
distinguished member of our faculty, a great leader while our dean, and
has taught tax policy and many other subjects here, and has been the
Garvey Schubert professor of law at the university, and is retiring as
a full-time member of faculty at the end of this academic year but will
be with us very, very much in so many ways.
Our next panelist is
Egil "Bud" Krogh, of the class of '68, a "Law Review" editor while he
was at the law school, and after a time of law practice joined John
Ehrlichman's staff as assistant to the council of the president.
there - and this, of course, is well-known and a source of notoriety -
was involved in the White House Plumbers project, which was trying to
uncover the leak to "The New York Times" and "The Pentagon Papers"
case. This resulted in a criminal indictment and disbarment. One of the
things we're going to be exploring today is some good people, good men
caught up in difficult circumstances.
Of course, Bud reinstated
to law practice, and since that time has just really embraced the
opportunities presented by that earlier experience to be a very
effective advocate, a very effective declarer of the importance of
ethics in service of government.
Most recently, he's been named
as a fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress,
as a senior fellow on leadership, ethics, and integrity; is teaching at
the University of Washington's Evans School of Public Affairs; doing
case studies on ethics and effective performance of government
functions; and it's a wonderful thing. Bud's book was published in
2007, "Integrity: Good People, Bad Choices, and Life Lessons from the
And so, very wonderful to have you here, Bud, and so much appreciate everything that you continue to do.
our last panelist, John McKay, who attended the University of
Washington as an undergraduate, received his bachelor's degree,
Creighton Law School graduate, White House fellow, US attorney, has had
a very distinguished career, and as a result of the circumstances
surrounding the dismissal of US attorneys, has a particular
perspective, a particular insight into the challenges of maintaining
ethical standards and a firm view on the public interest in that
John is on the faculty at Seattle University
and has been increasingly involved with activities at the University of
Washington as well, and we're very, very grateful for that involvement.
So I'll turn over the panel, now, to Justice Bridge to go forward. Maybe one final word.
involved in this, of course, our faculty colleagues. Professor Paul
Miller is a member of the transition staff of the Obama administration
and has a very important responsibility of vetting attorneys coming
into the administration. Our own Bob Anderson served as the co-chair of
the transition team for the Department of Interior, very vitally
involved in the preparation of Senator Salazar for stepping into his
new role as Secretary of the Interior. So these are things that are
very much close to our heart and very much a part of our project as a
So, without more, Justice Bridge.
Justice Bobbe Bridge:
Thanks, Dean. As all of us are painfully aware, the issues we're going
to discuss this morning - integrity, ethics, the temptations of power -
are not limited to the public sector, but it's our focus for this
Our conversation will examine the role of the lawyer in government, how
ethical dilemmas can affect one's priorities, one's loyalties, and even
one's moral compass, and how those individuals in environments of high
expectations and vast degrees of scrutiny can make decisions and policy
with integrity and continue to provide the stewardship for the common
goal that we all desire.
confront the intersection of the rule of law and politics, the art of
the possible. And my role here, it's designated as moderator, but I see
it more as an interlocutor and traffic cop.
interlocutor part. If our planning conference is any indication, we're
going to have a very lively conversation. These panelists, as you can
tell, are particularly situated to discuss these issues, both
experientially instead of theoretically, but we have a bit of the
theory going on, in some instances, with the passage of time.
going to pose several questions to them throughout this, about 45
minutes that we have set up for this discussion, and basically get out
of the way as I pose each of these questions. We're going to save some
time at the end of the discussion, and that's where the traffic cop
part comes in. We are going to try to get certain questions answered so
that we can have, again, a robust discussion, not only between the
panelists but also with the audience involved for about the last 10
minutes of our morning session.
A reminder to please turn off all
electronic devices, cell phones, et cetera. And I realize I haven't
turned mine off. So, if one goes off out there, it's mine.
OK. So, are we ready?
first question. What are the ethical pressures put on lawyers in the
political environment? Let's start with Professor Hjorth.
Is my thing on here so you can hear me speak?
Yep. Can you guys..?
OK. I would first like to define what I mean by ethical.
Need to turn it up? I'm not quite sure how I do that, Mary, but I'll...
He couldn't find the coffee, and he didn't know where the napkins were. We only have 45 minutes, people.
Why don't you move up closer to the front?
The first thing I would think to do is to differentiate...
[loud feedback sound]
Oh, my God. What happened?
You're OK, Ron. He's changing over.
Oh, OK. I would first differentiate what we might think of as an
ethical problem and a political problem, in a sense, that we expect
politicians - that is to say elected people, particularly. We don't
necessarily admire it, but we expect that people will shift their views
to get votes, if they can do that. And while we don't necessarily
admire that, we expect it. I differentiate that from, truly, the
ethical problems that confront lawyers in public service from what I
might call the political dilemmas that they sometimes have.
I read recently a book of poems by Calvin Trillin about politicians. He
was speaking, in this case, about Senator McCain, and he said, "What
torture could not do, ambition did."
I would say that that is a case where here is a politician who changed
some of his positions because we expect that. We don't necessarily
applaud it when it happens, but we expect it. But I think that's quite
a different thing from truly ethical lapses, or even legal lapses.
I'd say, it seems to me that there are maybe, perhaps, two levels of
this that happen. Persons in true positions of leadership, it seems to
me that when they have fallen, it has largely, in my view, been because
of hubris. They become isolated from the world. They get to the point,
I think, where they almost think that they are above the law.
see that, in very recent years, in personal lapses. I mean, on both
sides. This is not a political issue. One asks, why did John Edwards
get into so much trouble? Did he not realize what he was doing or what
was going on? And one can say the same thing about a lot of senators,
for example, who got into terrible trouble. The politician in
Louisiana, who clearly got into very much trouble. It struck me that in
that case, it's probably a case of hubris. They are so long in the
public eye and they are so much applauded that they sometimes, perhaps,
might think that they're above the law.
Now, I think that, to
tell you the truth, it seems to me that that is a distinct problem for
this president that we have coming in. The reason I think it's a
problem for him is because he is so admired around the world. He may
not be the most popular person - that may be Michelle - but he is
probably the most popular man in the world.
I think it is very
important for a person in that position to realize that he is not above
the law, or she is not above the law. The normal rules of conduct that
apply to everybody else apply to them as well. It doesn't justify it,
but I can understand why that sometimes happens, and it seems to me
that they must be protecting themselves against that.
But at a
different level, I think now and then about people below that level -
the working attorneys, let's say. Now, you may disagree with me on
this, but I've thought about the case of John Yoo, who was an extremely
brilliant, young scholar. He is now on the faculty at the University of
California, I think. He wrote a memorandum attempting to justify what
many of us would consider to be torture.
We ask ourselves, "Well,
why did he do that?" He might have done that simply because he thought
that's where the law required him to go. But I really don't think
that's true. It may be where he thought the law permitted him to go. I
don't want to sit back and judge people. I've never been on the firing
lines that way. But it seems to me that, in that case, it is ambition.
with ambition, also, is perhaps a special problem of youth, that older,
established persons can tell the president or secretary, "Look, I've
got plenty of other things to do with my life, and I'm not going to
compromise myself because of you." That with younger people, where it's
their whole future that depends upon how well they do, perhaps, in this
particular job. At least, they may think that. And I may come back to a
point that I don't want to embarrass [laughs] my former student...
I'm going to him next.
I will tell you something that he doesn't even remember anymore. We
happen to have selective memories. He was one of the outstanding
students. He graduated, I think, in 1968, Bud?
Egil "Bud" Krogh: Yep.
Upstanding in every way. I remember that he and his friend, Jack
Merritt... If you want to talk about the two straight arrows in that
class, it was Jack Merritt and Bud Krogh.
Bud Krogh went with Roy Prosterman to Vietnam, first to work on land
reform in Vietnam. He was committed to this whole idea. He came in to
see me shortly before he went to Washington, and he said, "I have a
chance to go and work in the White House. What do you think?"
God, here am I. I don't know how old I was, but [laughs] I probably
wasn't much older than Bud. I was very young. So he comes and asks me,
"What do you think about my going to work in the White House?" Well, I
had to say something because he asked me. So I said, "Well, I'm told
that you work long, long, long hours, and it can be very hard on your
family life." And he says, "Oh, that's not a problem for me."
But what I didn't tell him was that you're going off... I think he had only been in practice for about five or six months...
I'd say two.
Two months. Two months in practice.
And he goes off to Washington. Everything there, I mean, what kind of
independence did he have to go back to? As I compared him with the
person who took him there, who could very well have said to the
president, "Look, that's just not right, and I'm going back to Seattle
and engaging my practice."
OK. So, Bud, is the line of demarcation age? Is the line of demarcation
electeds versus appointeds? What are the ethical pressures that are put
on lawyers, regardless of where they are?
Well, I think it's a combination of things, Justice Bridge. I think, in
my case, age was a factor. I was 29 when I got that opportunity from
John Ehrlichman, who came to my office at the Norton Building down
here. I'd been in practice for two months. Actually, I'd been working
with a firm for two years. He'd just been appointed counsel to the
president after the election, in 1968, and he came to my office and sat
across from me, put his feet up on my desk and said, "Do you like your
I said, "Yes, sir, I do." And he said, "Would you consider changing
your job here?" I said, "Yes, I'd consider changing my job." "Would you
consider leaving Seattle to come to Washington, DC, to be staff
assistant to the counsel to the president?" "Yes."
There was no gap.
See, there was no breath there.
There was no breath. No breath. I thought that maybe something like
that could happen, because he had been tour director of the campaign.
So I arrived in the transition headquarters about three days later. It
was the quickest, I think, disconnection from a law practice that
anybody had seen, just threw the files down the hall and saw whose desk
they came to, they got that case.
It was a matter of playing catch-up ball all the time, because I had no
experience in big government. I'd been in the Navy for three and a half
years, been on a ship in the western Pacific, been to law school. But
the pressures began at once.
of the things I felt there, as my job, is to really serve Richard
Nixon. I think one of the things, as the loyalty was personal rather
than to the presidency itself, when I got sworn in in the East Room of
the White House, raised my right hand, and I swore to uphold the
Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, so help me God.
But in my mind, as I worked for this man, the president, and that
personal loyalty overrode, in many ways, the loyalty to the document
that we all swear to when we go to work in public service.
You mentioned hubris. When I mentioned that to my son, he said, "Who is Hugh Bris?"
I said, "Well, it's not a guy."
It's a Jewish ceremony. We won't get into it.
But I said, "If you could draw somebody who thinks he has the answers,
who is in a position of some responsibility, what would he look like?"
He drew Hugh Bris.
But I think that there was that element present in that White House
staff: pressure, hubris, youth and inexperience, sometimes secrecy. The
topic being transparency, I think Richard Nixon never saw a secret he
didn't like. I mean, he liked the secret stuff, and he would surprise
people with things.
live in an atmosphere like that, over years, you almost become part of
it. I think Dean Hjorth's correct. When you're young, and that's your
first major job - I mean, I'd been in a law practice for two months
before I went back there - you don't have much to fall back on. You
don't have a life experience that you can turn to. In the particular
problem, which I was involved in in 1971, with G. Gordon Liddy, E.
Howard Hunt, and David Young. And personnel is not my strong suit, I've
We couldn't talk to anybody. We were sworn to secrecy. And so, if there was ever a unit designed to self-destruct, that was it.
I think that in all the things that you've mentioned here, Justice
Bridge, it's pressure for results, youth and inexperience. Telling
truth to power requires a lot of moral courage, to be willing to go in
and risk it and put it all on the line. When I've been teaching law
school classes or continuing legal education programs, I've spent a lot
of time on how to do that, because it's a high-risk deal sometimes to
You could have said, when I came to you, "Don't go, " and that would have spared me a whole lot.
So it is his fault. Watergate. See, this is the untold story.
One of you can go out immediately and start the book.
OK. Telling truth to power. What a great segue. What are the ethical pressures?
I'm really struck by what Bud had to say. Thank you for inviting me
from Brand X across the city, at Seattle University Law School.
I'm amazed, really, listening to what Bud has to say, because I thought
of a moment in hearings on the firing of United States attorneys before
the House Judiciary Committee, in which a woman named Sara Taylor, who
was the assistant to the president, working for a guy named Karl Rove,
in responding to a question from a member of Congress, said, "Well,
Congressman, when I swore an oath to support and defend the president
of the United States."
a member stopped her and said, "Ma'am, I'm sorry, but I don't think
that oath you swore was to the president of the United States. I think
it was to the Constitution."
There was a very awkward pause, and she said, "Well, that may be right." Well, of course it was right.
May be right?
She swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United
States. But in her mind, she had an oath of loyalty. I think, just
having come from this last administration, the Bush administration... I
tell people, by the way, my friend, Dean Hicks, that I got fired. It's
OK. People say "dismissed, " "asked to leave." I say, "No, no, I got
fired. I got fired by President Bush. And it's OK."
He has a T-shirt: "I got fired by President Bush."
I do have a T-shirt. There's no question in my mind that the same
affliction was in the Bush administration, and no question in my mind
that loyalty was more important than integrity.
Further, and much more dangerously, even, than that was that they
viewed lawyers and the rule of law as an obstacle to their national
security needs. That may have been different than in the Nixon
administration. I suspect not so much, but that that maybe was the
thought long and hard and had an opportunity to consider and write a
little bit about what happened in the Bush administration, and trying
to think about what this would mean for future administrations. I just
want to be a little bit provocative and tell you: there will be scandal
in the Obama administration. It happens in every presidential
administration. There will be people who make mistakes, and part of it
is going to be how do those around them respond to the errors that
I think the hardest thing and most difficult thing,
Justice Bridge, to respond to your question about speaking truth to
power, is that you feel very alone amongst those who've been hired, in
part, because of their presumed loyalty.
There were a number of
occasions... I was horrified to read one of the senior aides to John
Ashcroft, who testified by deposition and so it came out later, when
they said, "Well, why did you fire John McKay?" I think the committee
reported that there were eight conflicting and different reasons given
by people in the Justice Department for why they fired me. But one of
the reasons given was that I made John Ashcroft uncomfortable. I had to
think about that for a moment, and then I realized what it was.
were a number of occasions - I could talk about it now, but I wouldn't
have at the time - in which we were being briefed on the upcoming
changes that became the USA PATRIOT Act, but there were amendments
coming. I was in a room almost exactly like this, with only United
States attorneys, no staff, and the attorney general of the United
States. I was being briefed on this, and I was horrified at a few of
the things that were being said. I was looking around, thinking, "Well,
I'm just the US attorney from Seattle. Someone's going to say something
This is what there was. It was silence. And I
realized I had to get up. After a while, and I'm really not proud of
this, because maybe now I'm starting to realize I played an important
role there, but I was actually very disappointed, and kind of angry,
that it fell to me, or I felt it fell to me, to stand up to say, "Wait
a minute. This is unconstitutional." I used those words one time, and
everyone's horrified, like, "What did you just throw into the room? It
smells! It's bad! Why did you do that?"
difficult, because you don't want to be, at that moment, the person who
is not on the team, who isn't on board, who is seen as something. So,
after that, people would sort of laugh. "Well, let's just wait. John
McKay will say something."
I didn't really particularly relish
that role at the time. It was difficult. I didn't quite realize then
that that was part of the price of doing what you have to do, which is
be willing to be laughed at or be willing to be seen as the person who
spoiled the party or stopped the train or whatever was happening.
when I first read those words in that transcript, "I knew it!" They
thought that I was the... But now, in the last year and a half, I
thought, well, I think if there was nobody else who was going to stand
up, I'm glad I stood up. But it was hard.
So, what are the protections for this Faustian dilemma that you folks
have talked about? You've indicated that there are some reasons: the
loyalty, the rush, the age, the experience. Other than getting older
and having more experience, what is it that can protect an individual?
I mean, we don't want to stop lawyers from entering public service, and
certainly being dedicated to the promotion of the public good. What are
the governors, small G, on this kind of situation? I'll start with you
this time, John.
The first thing is yourself. There has to be a point of personal
perspective where you stand away from all of the perks. To be in these
positions - presidential appointee, confirmed by the Senate - in your
own realm as US attorney, you're the boss, you're the chief
law-enforcement official. You go to Washington, DC, everyone sort of
bows before you, even in the Justice Department, where there's another
100 presidential appointees.
So, you can't just believe your own press. I think you have to have
some perspective and recognize that people are going to make mistakes,
that you have to be on your guard, that you have to watch what's
happening. You have to look for some help that you didn't think you
were going to get.
That's right. That's what I'm really trying to get at. What's in place
to help you do this? You're kind of getting into more of what you
should do. But what are the protections to help you move to the should,
the right thing?
Well, there's not much. I mean, when you think about it, it's like
telling a lawyer, "How do you decide how to deal with ethical dilemmas
you face every day?" And you say, "Well, read the rules of professional
conduct." They tell you not to sleep with your clients or steal from
the trust account, and then a whole bunch of lawyers do that anyway,
but it's not the ethical bar. The ethical bar is much higher than that.
You need to have people support you, and you look for people whose
judgment that you trust.
I think here's an element that people often ignore, and that is you
look for people who have some courage. And that's the courage to give
you the right advice. It's the courage to also stand up when something
critical is happening, and be willing to do the right thing. So you
have to try to judge persons who will support you.
retrospect, on the low bar in the past Bush administration, I was
surprised I didn't get fired sooner. And I'm surprised they didn't fire
five to 10 more people who I think were willing to do that. But I don't
think we had, in the Bush administration, any sort of common reference
to doing the right thing, other than from Jim Comey, who was the deputy
attorney general. Not from Alberto Gonzales. Not from John Ashcroft.
There was no reference to ethics and how that should guide your job.
hope and prayer - and I think we're seeing some good signs in the Obama
administration - is that this will be handled differently.
I'm thinking, Justice Bridge, about the commissions that I received
when I was on the White House staff. You know, those beautiful
documents that are signed by the President and the Secretary of State
and you put them on your wall - well, I must be important. I got four
of them when I was there, and they all began with these words:
"Reposing special trust in your integrity, prudence and ability, I do
appoint you..., " and then, whatever the position is.
I never read those words. I wanted to see that they were signed by the
right people because then you could put it on your wall. But, the point
is, that it's reposing special trust in your integrity, and it's not
the integrity of the president or the chief of staff or the chief
counsel; it's yours.
I teach, when I teach in law schools, is that you never can check your
personal integrity at the door of any organization you join. That's
what you've got when you go in. It's hard sometimes when you haven't
really formed your own value system. Clearly... [interrupted]
That's the age and experience thing.
That's the age and experience problem. I will just tell you, in terms
of talking about the Obama administration, I have been tremendously
heartened by what I've just seen in the last month.
I'm just going to take a little sample here: How many of you know the
name Norm Eisen? Raise your hand if you know it. And professor Mahler,
you can't raise your hand on this. Norm Eisen. Does anybody know that
I'm going to tell you a little bit about him, because I'm going to
contrast the Nixon and the Obama approach to ethics, conflicts of
interest, and trying to do the right thing.
When I was joined up
with the Nixon White House, I was the Ethics Officer and in a pod later
on to go to prison handcuffed to a waist chain. But, I was the only one
that did that work, and it sort of showed you the priority that was
placed, by the president, on that kind of work.
Norm Eisen runs a
staff of nine people on the White House staff. There was an article in
the Washington Post, on March 13th that I commend to all of you. He is
the special council for ethics in government reform. Integrity is the
driving idea behind what I think that White House staff is trying to
do. He is much busier than I ever was, because that wasn't even my
full-time job when I got there.
So, you've seen this issue of
integrity, transparency, good ethics, and, as John says, it's not just
what's in five CFR. You can read that document, and it almost raises
more questions than it gives you answers sometimes. What they're trying
to do is instill and embody, in that staff, this dedication to these
higher ideals and ethics and the idea of integrity. The individuals
that come in there need that kind of counseling and guidance, and I
think it goes to the notion of mentors.
Richard Nixon was my
mentor to the extent that I had one - John Ehrlichman, too - but I was
observing how Nixon performed, what he did, what he expected me to do,
and I sort of made myself in that image. After I left and went through
all that, I joined the law firm of Culp, Dwyer, Guterson and Grader,
and Bill Dwyer became my mentor.
I was asked, "What's the difference between the two?"
I said, well, one is like being in the court of Henry the Eighth, and
the other is like being a paralegal to Thomas Jefferson. It's just
completely different, and I often have thought my life would have been
different if I could have reversed the timing for those mentors.
But, I think for young people, having a good mentor outside the
government, but who might have had some experience that you can call
and talk to and test things with - even give your hypotheticals to - is
extremely important. It's your own set of values that will protect you
in the first instance, but then having people who you trust and who can
counsel you and care for you when you're in those jobs is extremely
Ron, I'm going to throw you a little curve ball, because I want you to
answer this question about protections to the extent that you want to
include anything that maybe John and Bud didn't talk about.
You talked a little bit - and I think John, too - about the high
expectations that are in this particular administration, the Obama
administration. What's the role of high expectations and the pressures
on maintaining your integrity and your ethical barometer, as it were?
And then, where are the protections?
When I first talked about the high expectations... Indeed, there are
high expectations, there's no question about it, but there's also
almost an adulation that we're seeing happening, and I'm not sure that
that adulation is a good thing, because we all succumb to it.
It's quite a different thing, I think, than faces people like John
McKay. I don't suppose that he was suffering from a tremendous amount
of adulation when he got up and spoke at that meeting with the other US
attorneys and the attorney general.
me speak first to that part. I am absolutely amazed and disheartened
that... How many US attorneys were at that meeting, John, when you felt
that you were the only one that spoke?
I mean, think of this. There are serious constitutional issues raised.
There are 85 US attorneys. Now, these are high-ranking attorneys. This
is not a case where we have young, inexperienced people who are worried
about what's going to happen to their future. These are people who have
been in this profession a long time, who have achieved a reputation,
and yet we have, in a group of 85 US attorneys, only one willing to
say: "Hey, there are some serious constitutional issues here."
Now, that, to me, is one of the saddest things I think I've ever heard,
John. I didn't know that. But there is a problem there, when you have
people like that, who are so concerned about something that they're
afraid to speak their mind, to speak truth to power.
next question was, what things are in place to encourage them? Well, I
don't think there's much in place. I mean, I don't think there was...
To these people, there was really nothing in place because we saw what
happened. The few who did speak truth to power, well, got fired. Maybe
they didn't all get fired, but I suspect most of them got fired. So,
what correctives are there? I think there are not enough, and I don't
So, do we really have a government of men, and not laws? And I accentuate "men."
Well, I think that's a personal foul.
Because I don't know any ethical... Well, we won't go down that road, although I was tempted to.
We definitely have a society of laws, and it's a question of leadership
and setting the tone on what that means. The leadership and the tone
were not set in the Bush administration. It may be easy for a lot of
people in this room to say that; it still is not easy for me to say
that. I was part of that administration.
I went in with high hopes about what needed to be accomplished. I went
in with the images, as we all did, of people falling 100 stories and
hitting the pavement in New York. The challenge that we had, in terms
of security, was profound.
left, came into an office and saw all the yellow tape around it because
Tom Wales had been assassinated. So the challenges were real. These
weren't made-up challenges. They were very real.
And how we
responded to them was where, in my opinion, we fell down. It is as
clear as the constitution says. I sat in a meeting in another room just
like this. Alberto Gonzales came in and they closed the room - only the
US Attorneys were in the room - and he walked back and forth and told
us that we worked for the President of the United States. He worked for
the President. You worked for the President.
I was so offended
that I almost interrupted his speech. I wasn't going to stand up and
shout, "Tyrant!" or anything like that, but the thought crossed my mind.
That would be in one of my law school classes.
But I was not alone there. And, Ron, I wasn't alone. I recall vividly
looking around that room, horror on my face, because to have the
attorney general say, "You work for the President, " in everyone's
mind, we know what that means. The President has... Karl Rove works for
the President. He's in the White House. There's a political aspect of
being the President of the United States.
We're federal prosecutors. We work for federal judges, we work for
juries, and we work for the public. We work on evidence, not politics.
So, when he said those words, I can tell you where I was sitting in the
room. My jaw opened and I started to look around the room. And, thank
God, I saw the same look being mirrored back in five to eight people in
my look around the room. We were, eyes wide: Did he just say that?
think a question that you might me would be, "Why didn't I do something
about that then?" I've challenged myself. Should we US attorneys -
because there a number of thoughtful, careful people who value and
honor the Constitution of the United States in that room. I called
several people after that meeting saying, "What are we going to do
about this guy?"
I had gone in as a friend of Alberto Gonzales. I
knew him when he was on the Supreme Court of Texas. I thought he would
be an excellent attorney general, and I was completely wrong. But I
knew he was wrong at the moment he gave that speech. There's no doubt.
So I called several people, and they said. "You know, he flew in late.
He was tired, he didn't mean what he said." So, in my mind, I thought,
well, I'm just the US attorney in Seattle. I'll do the best job I can,
put my head down, and do the work that I can.
I think a fair
question for all of the people in that room is, why didn't you do
something? Because I think together we might have been able to do
something. I think that's a criticism of me. I probably should have
Bud, Archibald Cox....
Archibald Cox. Too bad he didn't stay, but he was eventually fired by
Judge Bork. After Dell Ruckelshaus, Nelly Richardson refused to fire
him in a Saturday night massacre which led...
That's a potential consequence of what John had challenged himself to have done.
You can get fired. I just wanted to tell one quick story about
groupthink and the pressure on you. Just picture this meeting: the
President, the Attorney General, J. Edgar Hoover, John Ehrlichman, and
me. Question: When did they make it a federal crime to kill policemen
in the line of duty? A federal crime. It has always been a state and
local crime before.
The President comes in and says, "I have this great idea to make it a
federal crime to kill a policeman in the line of duty. What do you
think, John?" He turns to the Attorney General. "Mr. President,
brilliant idea. We ought to do that." He turns to J. Edgar Hoover,
"What do you think, Edgar?" "Oh, I agree with John. We ought to do it."
He turns to John Ehrlichman. "I agree with Edgar and the Attorney
General." He turns to me. I've done the research, and I've realized
that ninety percent of these crimes are solved by local law enforcement
within 30 days. It would be an inroad into a whole doctrine of
federalism. It's a bad idea. The locals don't want the feds in there. I
know all this. He says, "Bud, what do you think?" "Yup, yes sir, I
think we ought to do it."
I'm in that environment, saying something that is directly contrary to
what I know ought to be done. I walked out of that meeting and said,
"What did I do?" It took me two weeks to go around in behind and
reverse that. But often you get in those environments, where the
pressure to say what you think they want you to say, to say what you
think they want to hear, is overwhelming. That's just a piece of it,
sometimes, when you actually get in those meetings.
One alternative is to go behind afterwards, rather than stand up and say...
Yes. I wasn't willing to risk it in that environment.
Most of us, I think, in our own lives have encountered moments like
that, where it's easier to take an unprincipled stand or to stay
silent. But I was thinking, what could have been in place to enable
this young person, who probably knew more and had thought more about
this issue than anybody else in that room? There was really nothing in
place to protect him, as far as I could tell. Absolutely nothing. And I
do not know whether anything could be put in place.
Maybe a tone is set, and that's all we could think of. Clearly, there
was a tone set there by the President, at least as I hear the story. He
had this idea, "Well, I think this is a great idea. What do you think,
Edgar?" and so forth. So, a tone gets set by very high leaders. Maybe,
in thinking about whom we shall entrust with highest offices, I think
we do think about that a whole lot when we make our decisions on voting.
I don't really know that we have anything in the federal government
that will protect people, for example, like John McCain, who did at one
time in one meeting speak up. But he paid for it later. Another time he
did not speak up; he just kept quiet and looked at his fellow men.
look at Bud's circumstance. What was there to protect this bright and
really truly extraordinarily capable young lawyer? What was there to
protect him if he said, "Look, I don't agree with any of you." He had
absolutely no protection, and he was a political appointee. There was
no protection there. There wasn't anything there, and I don't know how
it will be possible in this circumstance. You can't legislate morality
or ethics, I guess. But it does seem to me that there is nothing.
am not aware of any protections, like, for example, an ombudsman. You
might have a federal ombudsman, who would stand up and protect people
who stand up for principle. The problem, of course, with it very often
is, people who stand up for principle get judged. It's very seldom that
people will damn them for their standing up for principle. They'll look
up for other reasons to damn them, and that's another problem that you
I'm pretty pessimistic about what protections there are in
place at any level. This is why I was thinking that for people who have
their own lives to live, who can go back to a good law practice or a
good professional career that they left to go the government, that's
their protection. I think that ought to be enough. I'm especially hard
on those people.
I'm especially hard on John Mitchell. Here was a
person who had been a leading attorney in a big New York law firm. He
had everything to go back to. He could have said no at any time. We
would have expected that of people at that level. But I'm worried more
about the people who say, "We want young lawyers. We want young lawyers
to go into government service. We want them to do that, " and yet they
don't really have any protections. They can't go back to a partnership,
necessarily, in a good law firm. So I'm pessimistic about that.
John, you wanted to jump in here?
I'm not so sure this is a problem of the young. I think it's a problem
of power and enormous access to power. I spent almost an hour with Dick
Cheney in 1989, when I was interviewing with him to be his White House
Fellow. I went away incredibly impressed with Dick Cheney in 1989. I
then was in a meeting with Dick Cheney when he was Vice President of
the United States and I thought, "This is not the same person."
I knew Alberto Gonzales when he was on the Supreme Court of Texas:
humble, smart, nice. He was our contact for legal aid for poor in
Texas, completely committed to the idea. A few years later, as White
House counsel, I met a cold, calculating, extremely ideological
individual. I think power changed him.
you put David Addington in the mix with Dick Cheney and others, I think
it has more to do with power. I think the flip side of that is that
it's not just in the White House. I think everybody in this room has
been in circumstances, in law firms and other places, where the one
person raises that annoying question: "Why don't we have diversity?"
And when you leave the room, many of the people in the room are saying,
"My God, she's is a troublemaker - or he's a troublemaker." The
troublemaker monitor goes on that person.
I've seen this. You
could plug in important issues - diversity and other issues - whether
it's an ethical issue in a publicly-held company or business, there's
the person who raises the annoying question. I think it's a leadership
challenge, not just at the top but throughout, to step back for a
moment and say, "Wait a minute, maybe this person is on to something."
That as a leader is hard to do, but you must do it. You must say, I
will create an environment where Bud Crowe could say, even to the
President of the United States, "Let's just stop for a moment and
consider a couple of facts."
But that environment was not
created, at least in that room by President Nixon. And I can tell you
that that environment was not created among either of the Attorneys
General that I served under. I don't think from what I've read that it
was at all said out of the White House. That was something that
ultimately lies with President Bush and with the leaders that he
brought in. They did not encourage or value that. Instead, they valued
loyalty, and they paid the price in terms of both policy and,
certainly, the integrity of individuals who I think will never recover.
mean, Alberto Gonzales can not get a job. A number of others in the
administration are leaving. We may still see criminal indictments
coming down. I think you will see at least one criminal indictment come
out of the firing of United States attorneys.
Well, you're leading us once again into the... We want to explore,
briefly, before we open this up to the floor. How do you lead
ethically? We've heard that it's, in part, a tone. But we've also heard
that there's a balancing here on the incredible pressures, the
pressures of power.
If you can look at it on the flip side a little bit, or maybe a more
benign side, the pressure of trying to produce, of trying to do good
things, of trying to bring about change. Which also gets us, when you
talk about those kinds of pressures, and how you lead ethically in that
environment having the power to do some of this - particularly, with
the Obama administration - lots and lots of expectation, lots and lots
of pressures to make change.
What are the ethical dilemmas? But more importantly, how are they going to lead ethically?
Well, you guys are looking my way.
me raise an issue that I think is a serious one facing the Obama
administration. I think they have their eye on the issues. As I said, I
think the ethical bar was set enormously low by the prior
administration. So, if they were to use "doing better than the Bush
administration, " I don't think that's a good measure of success.
Not high enough? Is that what you're trying to say?
I think they know that.
Being in a room of mostly lawyers, I have to say I think that the chief
failure was to view the rule of law as an obstacle and an enemy. I
think much followed from that. The personal tone of loyalty is what
led, in my view, to the ethical lapses in pursuit of that goal.
my concern is this, and it started coming up in our conversation: Who
do we turn to? Who will police? Who will write the rules?
one of the greatest challenges of ethical leadership is how to meet the
challenges we face that require change and require courage, and will
require us to do things differently than we're doing them now. If we're
not careful, what we're going to get are a series of rules that will
make any person who attempts to lead, and to bring change, subject to
Therefore, it will be much easier, in an
ethically dominated administration, to do nothing. To do nothing. To
sit in your office and get the paper from this box over to that box,
but to make sure that no one makes a mistake.
I'd suggest that
our challenge is both national security, economic immigration... By the
way, what have we heard on immigration coming from the administration?
Not much. Very sad, in my view.
We've got lots of challenges out
there. I think that the kind of leadership that will cause you to work
across our polarized political environment, and to bring the kind of
change that's necessary to keep us safe while protecting what we
believe in, which is our civil liberties and our civil rights, will
require people who can do that.
If we have nothing but a list of don'ts, then I think we're in for a very, very difficult time.
I think some examples... Just this last week, the Justice Department
was in court today, I think, to move for dismissal of the charges
against Senator Stevens. I think it was a recognition that our
prosecutorial misconduct, not turning over information from an
interview that would have been critical to the defense, was one of the
That is adhering to the rule of law. This is what we're here to do.
When you have a case like that come out within 90 days of his taking
Yes, we're not done with the first 100.
Yes, we're not done with the first 100. I think that's very important
in setting the tone for the top because, obviously, that was an
attorney general decision based upon, I'm sure, discussion with the
president and the people on the White House counsel.
I would think that that had all been at least thought through somewhat,
but then the attorney general makes the call. He's in court doing it. I
think that's very encouraging that they are doing something like that.
I don't think it's politically driven, much.
think that that's a very important kind of statement that is made right
at the beginning. What we can expect from thereon, I think, is going to
be much more adherence to the rule of law.
I remember calling
Bill Renquist one time, when I needed a legal opinion, on whether we
could impound the Highway Trust Funds. Here's the way I posed the
"Bill, the president wants to impound the Highway Trust
Funds. It's got a bad effect on inflation. Could you prepare a
memorandum supporting the president's decision? Can you get it over
Renquist had a way to draft memoranda overnight,
and the next day it came. Well, the way I posed the question was not
really consistent with what the rule of law would require. I just
needed this legal document to support it.
The right question was,
"Bill, would you prepare a memorandum that gives me your best judgment
on whether or not the president has the authority to impound the
Highway Trust Funds?"
That's not normally the way clients ask questions either, is it folks? Again, it's not just the public sector.
But I'm looking for the Office of Legal Counsel to render an opinion
that becomes the law to the executive branch, once the assistant
attorney general signed it. You see, the way I set up the question is
No one will admit it, but that's exactly why John Yoo and Judge Jay
Bybee wrote those memos that authorized torture by the United States of
America. Someone told them that they needed to write a memo that would
give CIA agents, defense department investigators, and even federal
agents a "Get out of Jail Free" card, if someone later decided that
waterboarding was torture, which every one of them knew was torture.
He wrote that memo. Look, anybody who's read that would say that was a
torturous, if you will, use of the law to get a result. Someone told
him to get that result.
So the tone is... if I can summarize what you're saying, the tone is
not just about behaving ethically, and we want to behave ethically. But
the tone is also that loyalty does not mean that you cannot challenge.
As a matter of fact, loyalty to the cause, to your president, may mean
challenge, so that that president is behaving ethically as well and is
true to the Constitution.
Something John said earlier in a way troubles me. I don't have an
answer to it. It was a superb point, but I don't have an answer. That
is, when there are high expectations for people, or if somebody wants
to change the direction of the way that things are going, that person
needs to be assertive, needs to do as much as she or he possibly can.
And yet, one answer is not to do anything to keep out of trouble,
So, if you're ambitious and aggressive, and you want to get something
accomplished, how do you do it in an ethical way? You're telling me,
John, that one easy response is not to do anything, right?
Yes, that's the easiest in most cases.
But if you wanted to do something... I think I can see this too, in
some ways, in the sense of the early days of the Bush administration,
that they saw this huge War on Terror as a big problem that they had to
confront, and they did. They wanted to move forward and get some things
But I'm really troubled because it's a superb question, John. It needs
to be faced. That is, is it possible to move an agenda forward
aggressively and do it in an ethical way without compromising
standards, and so forth and so on? I think that it is, in fact.
do think that it's not that people don't know what's right and what's
wrong. I think people do know that, pretty much. It's that other things
get in the way and become more important.
It's so easy for me,
when an ethical question comes up at the law school with my students.
It's very easy for me to talk about ethics and what lawyers ought to
do. I don't face the temptations that lawyers face. I don't have to
worry about losing clients. I don't have to worry about any of that
I don't have to worry about whether I'm going to have a
productive practice or not. So, it's very easy for me to sit and
pontificate about how lawyers ought to behave. I really don't have any
business doing that, it seems to me sometimes. But I nonetheless do it,
because I think I need to.
I'm kind of in the same circumstance
with public leaders. They have an ambitious agenda that they want to
get through. Sometimes, a lot of these things seem like, perhaps,
they're just standing in the way, useless kind of things.
a dilemma, I think, that John points out. I hadn't really focused on it
so much, until he just pointed it out. I don't have an answer to it.
Last comments before we open it up and have the audience join our conversation?
That's much more important than anything I have to say, except that I
feel like I've painted a very negative picture and they deserve it. So,
I'm not going to back off of that.
But people should know that there are a number of heroes
who did stand up and who paid for it with their jobs and possibly their
careers. If you want a hero, look up the case of Jim Comey, who was a
deputy attorney general of the United States.
Read the book, "The
Terror Presidency," by Jack Goldsmith, who they brought in because they
thought he would write conservative opinions. He took a look at the Yoo
memo and said, "This is wrong." They quickly got him out of his job.
Jim Comey refused to reauthorize this - he's the guy who went to the
hospital to stop Gonzales from trying to overrule him. He was the
acting attorney general. Bob Mueller went rushing over. I mean, this is
the stuff of movies. They're racing to the hospital to beat the chief
of staff and the counsel to the president from trying to subvert the
rule of law. It's exactly what occurred there.
Jim Comey, the
following Monday, in briefing the president, was pulled aside by the
President of the United States, who got in his face and said, "I'm the
chief law enforcement officer." Jim Comey said, "Mr. President, it's my
decision, not yours." Now imagine that.
He said that to "The Decider?"
He said that to the President of the United States. When the president
was stunned to hear it, he said, "Mr. President, did you know that Bob
Mueller is downstairs with his letter of resignation? That I am
prepared to resign? The attorney general will resign? The chief counsel
at NSA, and the chief counsel of the CIA are all prepared to resign
He didn't know it. Can you imagine, had the president not had that
conversation? And the president, to his credit, stepped back and said,
"No, I didn't know that." And when he went, they backed off, the NSA...
Jim Comey, of course, was fired. Nobody ever says that, but he was
fired the moment Alberto Gonzales was sent in to the Justice Department.
there are, and Jim's not the only one - there are a number of people
who did stand up, who did say the right thing. Many got fired. I think
if you look for examples of courage, they're out there.
Thank you. I think we're seeing - you hold it then, in the right place
- we're seeing a widespread failure of ethics all over our country, not
just in White Houses. In the past, religious institutions mostly took
care of teaching people ethics. That doesn't seem to apply to very many
people anymore. So how should people be taught ethics?
We do not necessarily intrinsically know what is right and what is
wrong, unless we are taught and given a frame of reference. People's
ethical views on what's right and what's wrong vary. So, should it be
taught in law schools, business schools, earlier?
I have a particular person to whom you're directing that question?
All of them.
Well, do it quickly, fellows, or that's going to be the only question.
I think all of the above. Business schools, law schools, schools of
public affairs, high schools. I tried to teach some classes in high
school, and also student bodies in high school. I try to find examples
that are directly related to their experience that they can identify
I went over to Bellevue High School to teach the seniors and the
juniors. I think there are about 200 kids there. That morning, there
was a story in the Seattle Times about, I think, it was the girl's
basketball team that had lost the state championship because their
coach had recruited outside the school district.
all remember that story? I think they lost two state championships.
That was just on the way over. I was listening to it, and I said, "OK,
now that relates directly to an unethical decision by a coach in the
competitive world that they were in. They've got to win at all costs."
was comparing it to the Nixon drive to win at all costs, and how
Watergate came. So, I started this story about Watergate and I said,
"By the way, you read the story this morning."
Now Bellevue High
School is a powerhouse, too, in its sports. They know this issue. All
of a sudden, you can almost tell by the way they sit forward. It's,
"Oh, wow. This really affects me. Ethics really is important. This
affects my life."
I think it's finding the way to teach it at all
levels. I think it starts in grade school, all the way up to law
school. Law school, I don't want to say it's too late, but you would
expect that they would have had a lot of this training beforehand.
think that they do a much better job today in teaching professional
responsibility and ethics in law school than when I was there. I'm not
casting aspersions here, Ron, but I mean professional responsibility in
1968 was if you come to the class, I won't grade you. Just come. Just
show up, because it's on the test.
It's like, this is your third quarter, your third year, and this is not
important. It is important, and I think the way it's taught today, with
case studies and the rest, demonstrates its importance.
My answer is, it's at all levels where I think that education has to
Anybody want to add anything quickly?
OK, let's see. Gail?
Would there have ever been a moment, if you had not been fired...
This is to John?
If they had not fired you, would there ever have been a moment where it
would have been appropriate for you to quit and leave no one in that
Yes, I mean the question is, "Would there have been a moment in which I
would have resigned?" That's a great question, Gail, and I have thought
about that. The moment really never arrived for me, where I was asked
to do something... Well, that's not true.
I was asked to do one thing that I concluded was illegal. I wanted to
mention this. Ron was talking about the groupthink experience and how
difficult that can be, and Bud mentioned it as well. We were all told
to go out, at one point, and contact our senators and congressmen about
an aspect of the PATRIOT Act.
heard this and I was on a conference call, and I thought, "You know,
there's something about that, that just isn't right." I hung up the
phone, and I looked at a little bit of research on my own. I didn't ask
anyone else to. There was a statute in the criminal code, that
prohibits lobbying by a government official in my position. I was being
told to contact my congressman or senator.
So, I called my good
friend, Carol Lamb, in San Diego, who I consider to be the smartest US
attorney of our lot. She was fired the same day I was. I said, "Carol,
am I crazy? I'm reading this statute. It's just illegal."
She said, "No, you're not crazy. You're right."
I complained through channels, and I later found that John Ashcroft,
when they said, "You know, Attorney General Ashcroft, there's some US
attorneys who say this is illegal."
They were actually saying that. The guy who finally said, "What, are you people crazy? It says, we can't do it."
They said, "We'll give you a legal opinion that says it's legal."
guy by the name of Pat Fitzgerald said, "That's what we indict people
for, " after this thing got elevated a little bit. But I was told that
when it came to Ashcroft, they said, "Well, some US attorneys are
He said, "Well, where and who?"
They said, "In the west."
Ashcroft said, "It's McKay, isn't it?"
But it was clearly illegal, and a number, as I understand, had gone off to do it. It was just flat out illegal.
I think had, for example, I gotten a phone call and was told to
manipulate the 2004 governor's election, which there was expectation
that if you were a team player, that you should be doing something in
Honestly, I got an award for being courageous
from the bar association. Thank you. I don't deserve it because every
single person in this room - I'm looking out on friends and colleagues
- you would have made the same decision I did.
There was no
evidence to go to the grand jury on voter fraud in the 2004 governor's
election. It was a close election. There was no evidence. Had anyone
even implied, at a level of the deputy attorney general or above, that
I should do something differently, I know I would have resigned.
I will tell you, that moment did not come, and I was never asked to do
anything. I think they simply decided there were a group of US
attorneys who they couldn't rely on when the chips were down. I was in
that group, and I was fired.
Judge Jones, you've got the mic.
John, you mentioned the book, and I'll throw another one in. It's Jane
Mayer's "The Dark Side." They talk about the conduct specifically of a
number of people of the administration, specifically the template of
the activity of Addington and you, that gives the appearance that it's
transcended the boundaries of ethics and started to approach criminal
At what point in time do we draw the line in the sand and say, "We
should start enforcing ethics violations when they're that egregious,
and they should be prosecuted as criminal violators?"
I think that that is a great question. I think the answer is, when they
do something illegal, they need to be prosecuted. So, someone has to be
in a position to honestly investigate that conduct.
I think we have a great system of inspectors general, who ought to take
those jobs seriously and pursue them. The problem in the Bush
administration is that inspectors general take their potential criminal
violations to the Justice Department. In this case, it was the Justice
Department that was, by the time Alberto Gonzalez got in, as infected
as it possibly could be, at the highest possible levels.
a great chart that came out, by the way, and it's really pertinent to
our conversation. In the Clinton administration, there were about six
persons, maybe five, in the Justice Department who were allowed to have
contact with the White House, on any issue. Five. And that was more
than in the prior administration, in the Bush administration, which had
about three. In the George Bush administration, there were over 100,
something like 172 officials who were authorized to have contact with
the White House, including its political office.
problems there. I think that it's not surprising, then, that you would
have ethical violations, and maybe even criminal violations.
think it's interesting, and I'd have to leave it up to others to say
why it may not be in the interests of the Obama administration to
pursue criminal conduct. Maybe the world's going to answer the
question. If you saw, in Spain, the criminal investigative judge is now
eying all of those same people: John Yoo, Attorney General Gonzalez,
and George W. Bush.
It seems to me a special problem for lawyers is this. John cited a case
where US attorneys were asked to consult their congresspeople. And it
was flat wrong. It was a flat violation. There wasn't any question
about it. It was just plain illegal.
But very often, questions don't go to lawyers like that. It isn't a
question of it being flatly, plain illegal, but it's a question of the
desire of your boss influencing the outcome of your opinion in your
thinking, for example, of John Yoo. Now, I think that comes pretty
close to being flat, outright illegal. But nonetheless, here is a very,
very bright person who found enough in his training to write an opinion
that justified conduct that I think most of us would find to be
abhorrent. But it wasn't so flat, plain illegal that it disbarred him.
And I think that very often will happen. Another case, and we'll get an
opinion that justifies it, right? We'll get a legal opinion that
So, some lawyer is asked to prepare a legal opinion
that will justify highly dubious conduct. If it was a flat, totally
indefensible thing, then I think it would be less likely that they
would do it. But when it's a vaguer question, as I guess what
constitutes torture is a vaguer question. So that seems to me to be a
really significant problem, and it's an ethical problem.
difficulty with ethics, in my view, is that a lot of us have views that
we consider to be highly charged ethically that other people disagree
with. If you think to yourself stem-cell research. For some people,
that is a very, very highly charged issue. For other people, they come
out on the other side. So, that's one of the problems with ethics, that
people don't always agree on what the ethical course of conduct is.
it seems to me that there is somewhere between a place where there's a
lot of honest disagreement about what's ethical and where there's far
less disagreement about what's ethical. Very few people in this country
would find torture to be ethical, under any circumstance. But still,
lawyers are asked to do this.
And then, they're asked to do this
in private practice as well. You prepare tax opinions, in my area,
where you take the most optimistic view of what could conceivable
happen, because that's what your client wants. Well, that's a dilemma
that lawyers face. They're always dealing, very often, with something
that's not totally certain, and in coming to their conclusions, they're
very often asked to shade their opinions. So I think that's a problem
that lawyers in private practice face, and in government.
The next panel will be about lawyers in finance and tax law.
OK, I've got time for one more question. Deb. Oh, Lonnie. Never mind. Sorry. Sorry. Deb, you can come up after...
Just a follow-up on, I think, what was just touched upon, and I'll
start with Mr. Krogh. It seems to me, even though you mentioned that
President Obama has set a good ethical tone, it's very troubling to me
that he has apparently made a decision that he will not pursue
investigations of anything the prior administration did, in order to be
able to accomplish his legislative goals. I was wondering how you feel
about that, given you were, in a lot of ways, sort of the victim of
I certainly came of age during the Watergate hearings, and I feel that,
as bad as Watergate was, the saving grace was that we did look back and
thoroughly investigate and perhaps learn some lessons. I'm just
wondering what price we might pay for that decision.
I think that's a good question. I made a statement right after I was
sentenced to prison to Judge Gerhardt Gisele. I said, "I think, from
these indictments, our prosecutions, indictments, convictions,
sentences, sentences to be served," because there were a lot of them
that were in the queue, and I was sort of the first one going through,
"I think we're going to have a clearer understanding of what is
acceptable and unacceptable in our country today." But you almost had
to have the profile of going through the criminal justice system to be
able to see it.
Now, you can do it through investigative committees in the Senate, the
House, the rest, but it doesn't have the same clarity and, I think,
immediacy, as actually going through the criminal justice system. In my
own case, I felt that I needed to plead guilty, make it clear I didn't
want a pardon. There was a sentence to be served, a prison sentence. Go
through that. Go through a six-year process here in Washington State,
in the reinstatement process, disbarment reinstatement.
it became clear: here's what you can do, and here's what you can't do.
And if you decide not to do any of that prosecution, about what's
happened in the past, I think we lose the ability to be clear about
what's acceptable. I'm not saying that out of vengeance, or we've got
to go back and nail people. I think the pardon of Richard Nixon
deprived us of being able to see more clearly what he had actually done.
I think there are reasons for the pardon that maybe transcended his
specific guilt, in terms of Ford being able to function. And I think
that may be one of the logic behind not going through these
prosecutions today, because it would be a show that would detract from
his desire to be able to move forward and to develop some kind of
bipartisanship as he's going forward. I think it's a political calculus
that is at work there. But I think we lose something when we make a
decision that way.
Anybody, last words on that?
All right. My boss says we've come to the end. We're going to invite
Dean Hicks up here to make concluding remarks. I want to thank my
panel. You guys were great, as per my thoughts initially. It was
wonderful. And thank you all for participating as well. I think we
identified challenges. Thanks.[applause]
Justice Bridge and panelists, this was really, really splendid. Thanks
for not only the time, but for the energy and intensity that you
brought to this, I mean, really engaging this at a very high level and
putting a lot before us.
Again, thanks to all of you for coming out. We're going to try to
maintain this high standard as we go forward, of having these
presentations to the community of our alumni and all who are
interested. These are really splendid moments. We really think that
this is part of our main job, as the state's law school, as a public
law school, to be presenting these very consequential conversations.
And thanks to you all for participating in them.
I can just say a word of thank you to our staff, especially Hannah
Hewson, Beth Sanders, and all of Dean Cox's staff, in putting this
together. This has been really, really wonderful.
So, for those
of you seeking mentors, choose good mentors. And for those of you who
are mentors, be good mentors. One of the things that was so important
that came out of this was that sense of the immediate context of the
moment. Being a junior attorney in a room of seniors, if you go down -
so, if you speak up and you lose your job - it probably won't be a
moment of singular heroism; you'll just disappear and pop up some place
So, it's one of the things that just intensifies the
challenges. You may not have that heroic moment, where you get to go
down in flames gloriously. It might happen very, very quietly, and you
may never even be able to talk about that moment of heroism. So, these
are moments of just extreme vulnerability. Choose good mentors. Be good