Lots of good fireworks

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Lots of good fireworks at today’s Gonzales hearing. But here’s another great scoop out from McClatchy which brings us back to what should be one of the two key focuses of the US Attorney Purge investigation: the White House was using the Department of Justice to suppress Democratic voter turnout in pivotal swing-states in order to preserve Republican control of Washington.

Off the McClatchy wire

Only weeks before last year’s pivotal midterm elections, the White House urged the Justice Department to pursue voter-fraud allegations against Democrats in three battleground states, a high-ranking Justice official has told congressional investigators.

In two instances in October 2006, President Bush’s political adviser, Karl Rove, or his deputies passed the allegations on to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ then-chief of staff, Kyle Sampson.

Sampson tapped Gonzales aide Matthew Friedrich, who’d just left his post as chief of staff of the criminal division. In the first case, Friedrich agreed to find out whether Justice officials knew of “rampant” voter fraud or “lax” enforcement in parts of New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and report back.

But Friedrich declined to pursue a related matter from Wisconsin, he told congressional investigators, because an inquiry so close to an election could inappropriately sway voting results. Friedrich decided not to pass the matter on to the criminal division for investigation, even though Sampson gave him a 30-page report prepared by Republican activists that made claims of voting fraud.

Late Thursday night, a Justice Department spokesman disputed McClatchy’s characterization, saying that the White House asked for an inquiry, but never ordered an investigation to be opened.

The other point that appears to be being forgotten is the firing of Carol Lam. Lots of important stuff in this scandal. But this is pivotal. It’s the big picture that most of the media has never seemed to fully grasp. All the evidence points to the conclusion that she was fired because of the expanded Cunningham investigation. More on that shortly.

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