In August, "Justice officials" discuss "bypassing the two Democratic senators in Arkansas, who normally would have had input into the appointment." The way to bypass them, of course, would be to use the Patriot Act provision.
In September, Sampson put together another list of candidates, totaling nine. Cummins, he said, was "in the process of being pushed out." Six of those nine, including Cummins, were among the eight ultimately fired in December.
Also that month, Sampson wrote to Miers saying that "I am only in favor of executing on a plan to push some USAs out if we really are ready and willing to put in the time necessary to select candidates and get them appointed." He urged using the Patriot Act provision in order to get their "preferred person" appointed.
In October, New Mexico's David Iglesias was added to the list, "based in part on complaints from Sen. Pete V. Domenici and other New Mexico Republicans that he was not prosecuting enough voter-fraud cases."
Also in October, President Bush mentions complaints about voter-fraud investigations to Gonzales in a conversation in October 2006. "Gonzales does not recall the conversation, Justice Department officials said."
In November, Rove learns that the eight prosecutors are being replaced.
On December 4th, Sampson emails "the White House with a copy to Ms. Miers outlining plans to carry out the firings":
âWe would like to execute this on Thursday, Dec. 7,â Mr. Sampson wrote. Because some United States attorneys were still in Washington attending a conference, he planned to postpone telling them they were being fired. He wrote, âWe want to wait until they are back home and dispersed to reduce chatter.â
On December 7th, the calls to the seven remaining U.S. attorneys went out.
In mid-December, Sampson suggests that Gonzales use the Patriot Act provision to put Karl Rove's former aide Timothy Griffin in place until the end of Bush's term. "[I]f we don't ever exercise it then what's the point of having it?" he wrote to a White House aide.
So that's the story, or at least the story the administration is telling. Now, Sampson resigned yesterday, the Post reports, "after acknowledging that he did not tell key Justice officials about the extent of his communications with the White House, leading them to provide incomplete information to Congress."
In other words, Sampson, Gonzales' chief of staff, unbeknownst to other Justice Department officials, kept all this to himself. A rogue operator within the Justice Department, right under Gonzales' chin!
A little background on Sampson: he had worked earlier with Gonzales as deputy White House counsel from 2001 through 2003. He then moved on to the Justice Department as a counselor to then-AG John Ashcroft, moving up to become chief of staff in September 2005.
It's unclear whether Sampson will be made available to congressional investigators now that he's resigned.