Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten takes her own look at Minnesota United States Attorney Rachel Paulose and reports “what they didn’t tell you.” Looking with her own eyes, talking to people who have known and worked with Rachel, Kathy finds, shall we say, a somewhat different person than the one depicted by “them,” particularly including Kathy’s fellow Star Tribune columnist big swinging Nick. Power Line readers won’t be surprised, but Star Tribune readers may be in for a shock. Kathy writes:
By now, you must have heard of Rachel Paulose, the United States attorney for Minnesota. Critics suggest that she’s barely qualified to be an assistant prosecutor in Podunk. And at 34, she’s still wet-behind-the ears.
On top of that, detractors charge, Paulose is a partisan hack and a Bible-thumping evangelical Christian. They suspect that Karl Rove, that malevolent puppeteer, is pulling the strings to ensure that she dances to a militant Republican tune. How did someone so unsuitable become U.S. attorney? She didn’t. Because that’s not who Rachel Paulose is.
“Rachel is an unfair victim of [the Justice Department’s] discharge of the eight U.S. attorneys,” says John French, a retired Minnesota lawyer and longtime DFL activist who has worked with Paulose and spoke at her investiture in March. “She’s been wired into it [the Washington controversy] by innuendo.”
Caught up in the swirl of events in Washington, including Wednesday’s testimony of former Justice Department official Monica Goodling, Paulose now finds herself in the line of fire, in a way that’s obscuring who she is and her real credentials. It’s been open season on her.
The first thing to get clear is that Paulose is a legal superstar. She graduated from Yale Law School and has worked at two of the nation’s most prestigious law firms, as well as the U.S. Justice Department. The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed her to her current position.
Paulose also had experience as a federal prosecutor before she became U.S. attorney here. From 1999 to 2002, she worked as an assistant U.S. attorney for Minnesota in both the civil and criminal divisions.
In contrast, recent highly regarded U.S. attorneys such as David Lillehaug and James Rosenbaum (who was 36 when he was appointed) had no federal prosecutorial experience when they started the job. In fact, only two of the five U.S. attorneys who preceded Paulose had federal prosecutorial experience.
And Paulose’s age? Fourteen individuals under 35 have been nominated to serve as U.S. attorneys during the Clinton and Bush administrations, according to the Office of Public Affairs of the U.S. Department of Justice. The youngest was 29. Robert Kennedy was 35 when he became attorney general of the United States.
If Paulose is a Republican hack out to pervert justice, why are many prominent Democrats among her most ardent supporters?
David Kendall — Bill and Hillary Clinton’s personal lawyer — worked with Paulose for almost two years in Washington, and is full of praise for her as a lawyer and a person. He defended President Bill Clinton against impeachment charges, and is currently representing the Clintons in several civil matters.
“Rachel was terrific,” says Kendall. Her intelligence was second to none, she was an extremely hard worker, and she had great people skills, he adds. “I was extremely happy with her work. I was very sorry when she made the decision to return to Minnesota.”
A partisan hack? “I could never tell from Rachel’s work that she was a conservative,” says Kendall. “I don’t believe she would make a partisan decision — she would be guided by what her legal research told her. If someone asked her to do something for ideological reasons, there’s no question in my mind that she would resist.”
Here in Minnesota, French — another Democratic loyalist — echoes Kendall’s praise. By his count, he has chaired 11 DFL conventions. He scoffs at the notion that Paulose is a partisan hack.
“Rachel is as close to non-political as a political appointee can be,” French told me. “At her investiture, I said that the spirit of bipartisanship was alive and well in Minnesota. Who else but Rachel Paulose could bring people together on one stage — representing the whole spectrum in Minnesota — to speak in favor of one candidate? I bet Rachel and I would cancel out each other’s votes every time we walk into a voting booth. But so what? She’s terrific. Rachel has the capacity to create loyal friends and admirers no matter where they stand on the political spectrum.”
Perhaps the most incredible charge from Paulose’s critics is the notion that she was appointed as part of a Karl Rove plot, to suppress the minority vote in Minnesota in the 2008 election.
“Has anyone who says these things seen her face to face?” asks French incredulously. “She is a member of a minority herself. This is the silliest charge I’ve heard about her yet.”
Those familiar with Paulose’s record would concur. In Clinton’s Justice Department, she worked in the voting rights section under Janet Reno to protect minorities’ right to vote. At Yale, Burke Marshall — an architect of the 1965 Voting Rights Act — was one of her mentors, according to her r