For the life of me I can’t figure out why interim U.S. Attorney Don Burkhalter says that his office has recused itself from the Paul Minor judicial bribery case when it’s clearly not true. Here is the relevant paragraph from Thursday’s Clarion-Ledger article on the subject:

But interim U.S. Attorney Don Burkhalter of the Southern District said his office is indeed recused from the case, with the exception of two attorneys. He said [Ruth] Morgan and Dave Fulcher are working with the Department of Justice on court filings in the trio’s appeal, but he is not involved.

Not knowing to quit when he is behind, Burkhalter digs his hole deeper:

"You don’t see my signature on the motion," Burkhalter said.

If you don’t personally sign it then your office is not working on it? You know that is bullshit untrue don’t you? Since you are the U.S. Attorney, if anyone who works in the Southern District U.S. Attorney’s office—which includes Morgan and Fulcher—is working on it, then your office is working on it.

Federal public defender George Lucas’ comment is dead-on:

"It appears their perception of a recusal is different than mine."

I would add that their perception of recusal is different from anyone’s living in reality.

Burhalter is playing word games that make him look like a liar. Morgan and Fulcher are assistant U.S. Attorneys in Burkhalter’s office. If they are working on the case, then the office has not recused itself from the case.

Saying that the office is recused—except for the two lawyers who have been assigned to the case—is a bizarre word game that reinforces negative stereotypes about politicians and lawyers. Most people would simply call it a lie. It would be like saying: “I don’t steal—except on Fridays.” The qualifier negates the statement. 

What I can’t figure out is why is Burkhalter playing games on this issue? Who cares if his office has recused itself?