Boy, has Kyle Sampson learned his lesson, or what? He hasn't resigned because of his role in a scheme to fire prosecutors for political reasons, oh no: he resigned because he didn't succeed in organizing "a more effective political response" to the charges of impropriety. No wonder people thought
he'd be the next Karl Rove.
His lawyer, Bradford Berenson put out the following statement last night:
"Kyle did not resign because he had misled anyone at the Justice Department or withheld information concerning the replacement of the U.S. Attorneys. He resigned because, as Chief of Staff, he felt he had let the Attorney General down in failing to appreciate the need for and organize a more effective political response to the unfounded accusations of impropriety in the replacement process. The fact that the White House and Justice Department had been discussing this subject for several years was well-known to a number of other senior officials at the Department, including others who were involved in preparing the Department's testimony to Congress. If this background was not called to Mr. McNulty or Mr. Moschella's attention, it was not because any of these individuals deliberately withheld it from them but rather because no one focused on it or deemed it important at the time. The focus of preparation efforts was on why the U.S. Attorneys had been replaced, not how."
Alberto Gonzales has publicly blamed
Sampson for his "mistake" of not sharing "information that he had" with those testifying before Congress.
But according to Sampson, everybody knew. The officials who were about to testify just didn't ask around -- because, he says, they were focused on the "why," not the "how." I think I'd need another statement from Sampson, though, before I could understand how the White House's involvement isn't part of the answer to the question: "Why did the Justice Department fire eight U.S. attorneys?"
Or maybe it's more that they just didn't "deem it important" at the time.
Funny thing, though. They didn't deem it important when preparing for testimony, but that didn't stop Justice Department official William Moschella from telling the House Judiciary subcommittee under oath that the White House was not consulted on the firings until the end of the process. I guess he just assumed?
Looks like Sampson doesn't like playing the fall guy.Update
: A revised statement
drops the idea that DoJ officials didn't "deem" the White House role "important," and whereas before Sampson was regretting his inability to concoct an "effective politcal response" to the charges of impropriety, the word "political" has disappeared. After all, it's politics that got the DoJ into this mess.
As TPM Reader HR puts it: "Did someone go over his original release with a sharp blue pencil?"