The U.S. Justice Department has notified Arkansas's congressional delegation that Interim Eastern District U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin is resigning effective Friday, June 1. Jane Duke will become acting U.S. attorney. (This is the assistant in the office who the Justice Department once had said had to be passed over as an interim appointee because of her pregnancy. Since it's illegal to discriminate on account of pregnancy, Justice had to back off this statement.)
Still no word from the White House on selection of a nominee to put through the Senate confirmation process from a slate sent up by Rep. John Boozman.
"This is long overdue and a positive development," said Michael Teague, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor. "Credibility is being restored to the leadership postion at the U.S. attorney's office. We have confidence Jane Duke will do a good job."
Griffin was placed in the job as part of an effort to install picks of Karl Rove in U.S. attorney jobs throughout the U.S. Griffin once worked for Rove. The politics of the move has become more apparent in a succession of congressional hearings. Pryor's criticism of the ouster of Bud Cummins to give Griffin the job and the use of a permanent interim appointment under the Patriot Act helped trigger what has grown into a national scandal. A law to end the president's ability to make permanent interim picks without Senate confirmation now awaits the president's signature.
Pryor had resisted Griffin's appointment without a confirmation hearing because of reports he'd been involved in Republican efforts to suppress black voter turnout in Florida, a critical state in Bush's victories.
No word yet on whether Griffin will join Fred Thompson's presidential campaign or move into the private sector. He had come home to Arkansas in hopes of building a resume for a future political careeer. This episode won't help. What he has to say in the days ahead -- and as Congress' investigation continues -- could have some bearing on his future as well.