Regular viewers of "After Hours" will recall an interview several weeks ago with Manuel Miranda (search). He is the now former Senate Judiciary Committee aide who resigned in a flap over strategy memos by Democratic senators who were plotting ways to derail President Bush's judicial nominees.

Miranda says he didn't steal the memos, but saw them on an unsecured computer. The Justice Department will now investigate.

It has named the top federal prosecutor here in New York, David Kelley (search), to conduct a criminal probe.

This is really too much. The real "crime," if there was one, is what these memos revealed about the Democrats. They had no intention of debating the qualifications of any of the Bush nominees.

Their only concern was keeping conservatives off the bench and the way they planned to do it was through lies and distortion of their records.

Only in Washington would someone who exposed such a plot be liable for criminal prosecution and the ones who designed the strategy of obstruction and disinformation declared the victims.

You can bet if Republicans had been guilty of such a strategy, the liberals and mainstream media would be calling for their heads. With Manuel Miranda it's a different story.

The main reason he continues to twist slowly in the wind is that Republicans like Sen. Orrin Hatch (search), the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, won't come to his aid.

Too many Republicans would rather have the praise of their Democratic colleagues and the big media than exercise the power and opportunity given to them by the voters to change the courts.

The best thing that can happen in this case is that Manuel Miranda, a good public servant, will be found innocent of any wrongdoing.

The worst thing that will happen is that Democrats will have gotten away with their plot and will live to plot another day.

And that's Column One for this week.

To check out more Column One features,  click here.

What do you think? Send your responses to: afterhours@foxnews.com.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.