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U.S. Attorney Resignation Made on Threat of Immediate Firing

In Sampson's plan for the firings, sent out by email on December 4th to Justice Department and White House officials, he said that U.S. attorneys' pleas for more time were to firmly rebuffed. The prosecutors were to resign by January 31st. Granting extensions, he wrote, would "hinder the process of getting a new U.S. Attorney in place and giving that person the opportunity to serve for a full two years."

But it's far from clear that such a delay would have affected the replacement process at all. In testimony before the Senate in March, Sampson said that no replacements had been identified for the U.S. attorneys when they were fired in December. And even at this late date, the president has still not nominated a replacement for Lam -- Lam's Executive Assistant United States Attorney Karen Hewitt has been serving as an interim since February 16th.

So why the hurry in getting Lam out of the office? The Justice Department still hasn't provided a convincing explanation.

What's clear is that Lam was in something of a hurry during her busy, final days on the job, securing two historic indictments of the former Executive Director of the CIA Dusty Foggo and defense contractor Brent Wilkes, who's alleged to have bribed both Cunningham and Foggo, and obtaining a guilty plea for the internal financier Thomas Kontogiannis, who admitted to channeling corrupt payments to Cunningham in order to meet public figures like President Bush and the crown prince of Saudi Arabia.