President Bush's nominee for attorney general, Michael Mukasey, is likely to be confirmed by the Senate—but he might not get off to the smoothest start. The retired federal judge is expected to disqualify himself from one of the first big criminal investigations that could reach his desk. The reason: his friendship with Rudy Giuliani puts him in an awkward spot regarding another old Rudy pal, former New York top cop Bernard Kerik, who faces a continuing federal investigation for corruption and other alleged indiscretions. If new charges are prepared, lawyers expect Justice Department headquarters in Washington to review the case before indictment. But Mukasey will recuse himself if that happens, according to White House spokesman Tony Fratto.
The connection between Mukasey and Giuliani runs deep: Mukasey's son, Marc, is a lawyer at Bracewell and Giuliani, the Republican presidential hopeful's law firm. The son was also one of three lawyers who represented Giuliani last year when Bronx, N.Y., prosecutors sought Rudy's grand-jury testimony as part of their Kerik probe. (Kerik avoided jail by pleading guilty in the summer of 2006 to minor local corruption charges.) Kerik's lawyer, Kenneth Breen, confirmed to NEWSWEEK that the federal investigation of his client is ongoing, but he added that Kerik rejected a plea deal offered by the Feds several months ago because "he paid his taxes and did nothing wrong."