From Gonzales' written statement:
Shortly after the 2004 election and soon after I became Attorney General, my then-deputy-chief-of-staff Kyle Sampson told me that then-Counsel to the President Harriet Miers had inquired about replacing all 93 U.S. Attorneys. Mr. Sampson and I both agreed that replacing all 93 U.S. Attorneys would be disruptive and unwise. However, I believed it would be appropriate and a good management decision to evaluate the U.S. Attorneys and determine the districts where a change may be beneficial to the Department.
I delegated the task of coordinating a review to Mr. Sampson in early 2005. Mr. Sampson is a good man and was a dedicated public servant. I believed that he was the right person (1) to collect insight and opinions, including his own, from Department officials with the most knowledge of U.S. Attorneys and (2) to provide, based on that
collective judgment, a consensus recommendation of the Departmentâs senior leadership on districts that could benefit from a change.
I recall telling Mr. Sampson that I wanted him to consult with appropriate Justice Department senior officials who would have the most relevant knowledge and information about the performance of the U.S. Attorneys. It was to be group of officials, including the Deputy Attorney General, who were much more knowledgeable than I about the performance of each U.S. Attorney. I also told him to make sure that the White House was kept informed since the U.S. Attorneys are presidential appointees.
Mr. Sampson periodically updated me on the review. As I recall, his updates were brief, relatively few in number, and focused primarily on the review process itself. During those updates, to my knowledge, I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign.
Near the end of the process, as I have said many times, Kyle Sampson presented me with the final recommendations, which I approved. I did so because I understood that the recommendations represented the consensus of senior Justice Department officials most knowledgeable about the performance of all 93 U.S. Attorneys. I also remember that, at some point in time, Mr. Sampson explained to me the plan to inform the U.S.
Attorneys of my decision.
I believed the process that Mr. Sampson was coordinating would produce the best result by including those senior Justice Department officials with the most knowledge about this matter. As in other areas of the Departmentâs work â whether creating a plan to combat terrorism or targeting dangerous drugs like methamphetamine â my goal was to improve the performance of the Justice Department. And as in other areas of the Departmentâs work, I expected a process to be established that would lead to recommendations based on the collective judgment and opinions of those with the most knowledge within the Department. In hindsight, I would have handled this differently. As a manager, I am aware that decisions involving personnel are some of the most difficult and challenging decisions one can make. United States Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President, but looking back, it is clear to me that I should have done more personally to ensure that the review process was more rigorous, and that each U.S. Attorney was informed of this decision in a more personal and respectful way.