Guest blogged by DES
Catching no one by surprise, yet another official in Bush's Department of Justice has resigned with an announcement late on a Friday afternoon, apparently in hopes of minimizing coverage of the beleaguered department in the media.
According to the Boston Globe (via Think Progress), Rachel Brand, Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy, announced she will step down from her post on July 9.
While no reason was given for Brand's departure, apparently the department is floating the explanation that she is "expecting a baby soon." It is unclear what, if anything, that floater is intended to imply. Is it that the Bush Administration's version "maternity leave" is unofficially equivalent to permanent leave, or Brand never intended to return to her job after having her baby anyway, and simply decided to leave the job early and forgo using maternity leave benefits altogether? In the past, the Bush Justice Department has used maternity leave as a reason to pass over other pregnant career professionals for promotion. That is considered an illegal form of job discrimination, and in any other Justice Department, would be grounds for an investigation.
Aside from the pregnancy discrimination question, Brand's resignation couldn't possibly be related to the U.S. Attorney firing scandal, could it? According to the Globe, why, yes, it could...
Previously, Brand "helped shepherd Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito through Senate confirmation," recently testified to the DoJ's opposition to shield laws for reporters before the House Judiciary Committee, and "helped" with the re-authorization of the Patriot Act in 2006 --- at the same time that sneaky rule change, intended to bypass Senate approval of new US Attorneys, was quietly slipped in to the act by then-counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee Brett Tolman. Tolman has since been promoted to US Attorney for the state of Utah. Might Ms. Branch have had anything to do with that surreptitious late-night sleight of hand?
In light of her career achievements, perhaps we should just be thankful she is no longer making "significant contributions as an adviser to" embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Branch is the seventh Bush DoJ official to resign since March.