1) The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in late December was investigating the then-recent appointment of Timothy Griffin, Karl Rove's former aide, as the U.S. attorney for Little Rock and spoke to Roehrkasse:
"We are hopeful that by working with the two U.S. senators from Arkansas, we will make a nomination that the senators support and the Congress approves." Roehrkasse explained, "When a U.S. attorney resigns, there is a need for someone to fill that position." He noted that often, the first assistant U.S. attorney in the affected district will serve as the acting U.S. attorney until the formal nomination process begins for a replacement. But in this case, "the first assistant is on maternity leave," he said, referring to Jane Duke, who gave birth to twins earlier than expected the same week of the announcement.
There are a number of things wrong with this. First, it was no secret to Bud Cummins, the former U.S. attorney for Little Rock, or others in the Department that he had in fact been asked to step down. So he was fired and did not resign (a fact that was not public at the time).
And second, it was similarly no secret that Griffin would replace Cummins. Emails show senior Department aides Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling working back in August of that year on installing Griffin.
The notion that the Department ever considered replacing Cummins with his first assistant is simply not true. "Clearly, nobody ever considered appointing her," Cummins told me. "There was a plan in place, and it was obvious from September that Tim Griffin was going to become the U.S. attorney. In light of everything that was known by all of us, this was a ridiculous statement."
2) On March 6th of this year, McClatchy reported that Michael Elston, the chief of staff to the deputy attorney general, had called one of the fired U.S. attorneys to threaten him "that if any of them continued to criticize the administration for their ousters, previously undisclosed details about the reasons they were fired might be released."
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse criticized McClatchy for running the story. "It is unfortunate that the press would choose to run an allegation from an anonymous source from a conversation that never took place," he said.
But of course, as Bud Cummins testified the same day the story ran, the conversation did take place. And Cummins even managed to describe it in an email to the other U.S. attorneys the same day it had happened.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) has written the Department's inspector general to request that he investigate "the circumstances leading to Mr. Roehrkasseâs clearly false statement."
3) On March 5th, the Justice Department was scrambling to respond to news that Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) had phoned former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias shortly before the 2006 elections about a corruption investigation of a New Mexico Democrat, and that Domenici had been seeking Iglesias' removal for months. Had Domenici and the Department conspired to fire Iglesias because he had not pursued Democrats aggressively enough? Roehrkasse sought to put all that to rest. Here he is in The Washington Post:
The Justice Department said last night that Domenici called Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty during the first week of October to discuss Iglesias.
This followed three calls to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales in September 2005, January 2006 and April 2006 during which, Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said, Domenici "expressed general concerns about the performance of U.S. Attorney Iglesias and questioned whether he was up to the job . . .
"At no time in those calls did the senator mention this corruption case," nor did he specifically ask for Iglesias's ouster, Roehrkasse said.
As Gonzales subsequently testified, however, Domenici had discussed Iglesias' handling of corruption cases. When asked by Rep. Adam Schiff (R-CA) whether Roehrkasse's was a "misleading statement," Gonzales explained that no, it was not: Domenici hadn't mentioned any particular corruption case -- just corruption cases generally. "That, to me, is misleading, to be charitable," concluded Schiff.