Finley: Trump should keep McQuade

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

Donald Trump promises to “drain the swamp” of self-dealing politicians who put their own enrichment ahead of the people’s. He also says he wants to break away from the established way of doing things in Washington.

He could check off both those boxes by keeping Barb McQuade as the U.S. attorney in Detroit.

McQuade in a typical presidential transition would be on her way out the door, and that’s the expectation.

She is a Democrat appointed by President Barack Obama in 2010. Presidents don’t usually keep the appointees of their predecessor, particularly if they’re from the other party.

Jobs like U.S. attorney are plum patronage posts, awarded to those who either helped the president get elected or who have sponsors who did so.

McQuade, obviously, was not anywhere near Trump’s camp.

But that’s the point. A people-centric approach to governing, as Trump promises to deliver, would reward performance over partisanship.

And few federal prosecutors have performed like McQuade.

She’s the one who unraveled former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s web of deceit and sent him up the river for a good long time. She’s made public corruption the priority of her office.

Among the 1,000 prosecutions her office handles a year was the case of Dr. Farid Fata, who convinced hundreds of healthy patients they had cancer so he could bilk Medicaid for their chemotherapy treatments. He’s doing 45 years.

McQuade has built strong ties to southeast Michigan. That’s particularly true of the Muslim and African-American communities that are often mistrustful of the federal government.

She’s as good a prosecutor as the Trump team is likely to find, Republican or Democrat.

But if competence and performance aren’t enough to keep her in place, there are also crass political reasons for re-upping McQuade.

She is a hot property. Democrats are urging her to run for nearly every office that will be open in 2018, including attorney general and governor.

Republicans shouldn’t take her lightly as a potential candidate. Although she has never run for office, her name would be formidable on the ballot.

She’s well-regarded for her work, and well-known for her prosecution of Kilpatrick. She would have tremendous bipartisan appeal. And she’s hardly an establishment politician. She loves her current job; renewing her appointment would likely keep her off the ’18 ballot.

She’s also put a lot of Democrats behind bars. She’s pursued public corruption cases without regard to the partisan loyalties of her targets. What more could a Republican president ask for in a prosecutor?

Toss in that she’s the first woman to serve as U.S. attorney for Michigan’s Eastern District. If last weekend’s massive marches were any indication, Trump’s biggest job is convincing women he’s not an ogre. He can’t appoint too many strong, smart women to big jobs.

McQuade works very well for the people of Michigan. If Trump is serious that he wants the federal government to work for the people and not the political establishment, he’ll keep Barb McQuade right where she is.

Nolan Finley’s book “Little Red Hen: A Collection of Columns from Detroit’s Conservative Voice” is available from Amazon, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble Nook.