Wall Street Journal Asks “Did DOJ Apologize to Google for US Attorney’s Comments?”

This is an interesting developing story.  According to the Wall Street Journal (and the hearing transcript):

“The U.S. attorney in Rhode Island went off the reservation and gave a long interview about all the evidence and why it was he was so excited about the case,” lawyer Boris Feldman told the judge at a Delaware state court. “It ended up being so far off the reservation that the Justice Department apologized to Google for it and muzzled him.”

Did the Justice Department apologize to Google and muzzle the U.S. attorney, Peter Neronha? Not according to his office.“The U.S. attorney has never issued apologies to anyone in this matter,” a spokesman said. “As far as the suggestion that the U.S. attorney has been ‘muzzled,’ I can only point to the fact that we recently held a widely attended press conference” at which he answered media questions about the case.

Maybe the Justice Department apologized on his behalf? “We did not apologize,” a department spokeswoman said. For its part, Google declined to comment, saying: “Google does not comment on its discussions with regulators.”

The clear implication of these three statements (although not an inference drawn by the Wall Street Journal reporter) is that Boris Feldman misspoke.  I know Boris Feldman to be a damn fine lawyer and a person of unquestionable integrity, and I seriously, seriously doubt that he spoke anything but the truth.

I also do not doubt that the U.S. Attorney spoke the truth as well.  He is certainly conducting himself like a man with a clear conscience.

And Google does not comment on its discussions with “regulators.”  “Regulators”?  “Regulators”?  Isn’t that what they called Charlie Sheen in Young Guns?

So….that leaves the Justice Department which claims it did not “apologize”.  I guess it all depends on what your definition of “is” is.

PS: Remember the Bush Administration scandal about firing U.S. Attorneys for political reasons?  Imagine if a U.S. Attorney had been “muzzled” because he gave an interview regarding Halliburton?