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Henry Waxman (D-CA), chairman of the House oversight committee, announced today that former CIA Director George Tenet has agreed to testify before his committee. The topic: the White House's hyping of false intelligence in the run-up to the war, specifically Iraq's alleged efforts to procure uranium from Niger.

June 19th's the date. And to make things even more interesting, Waxman has also scheduled Condoleezza Rice to appear at the same hearing. Waxman's committee has already issued a subpoena for Rice's testimony, a subpoena that Rice has signalled she will ignore. Waxman "continues to expect that she will comply with the congressional subpoena," notes the committee's press release. Rice had been scheduled to testify tomorrow.

Colleagues Cite Partisan Focus by Justice Official "Two years ago, Robin C. Ashton, a seasoned criminal prosecutor at the Department of Justice, learned from her boss that a promised promotion was no longer hers. 'You have a Monica problem,' Ms. Ashton was told, according to several Justice Department officials. Referring to Monica M. Goodling, a 31-year-old, relatively inexperienced lawyer who had only recently arrived in the office, the boss added, 'She believes you’re a Democrat and doesn’t feel you can be trusted.'" (NY Times)

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Just how many of the fired U.S. attorneys were canned because they didn't pursue claims of voter fraud fervently enough?

The Washington Post counts 'em up: we know that David Iglesias of New Mexico and John McKay of Washington had angered state Republicans by not bringing indictments after highly publicized investigations of alleged liberal malfeasance. And we know that Todd Graves of Kansas City perhaps disappointed the leadership in D.C. by refusing to sign a Justice Department lawsuit to purge Missouri's voter rolls. And we know that Steven Biskupic of Milwaukee, despite a state full of unhappy Republicans, narrowly avoided being fired because he was lucky enough to have a very powerful political patron.

So that's three firings and one near miss.

And now the Post adds another: Daniel Bogden of Nevada, who was among the seven U.S. attorneys fired last December 7th. Bogden's firing has remained the greatest mystery -- and the efforts by Justice Department officials to justify it the most pathetic (an official told Congress that they wanted "renewed energy" in Bogden's district). But voter fraud prosecutions had not been raised as a possible reason for Bogden's dismissal until now.

Here's what the Post adds: When Justice Department official Matthew Friedrich -- following up on Karl Rove's request last October to investigate voter fraud allegations in three jurisdictions (Philadelphia, Milwaukee, New Mexico) -- called Benton Campbell, chief of staff for the Criminal Division, Campbell told him that Nevada was also "a problem district."

It's not clear from the Post's account whether Friedrich brought this news back to Kyle Sampson or whether word of Nevada's "problem" made it back to the White House. But what we do know now is that there's reason to believe that displeasure with a lack of voter fraud prosecutions was behind at least four of the nine prosecutors fired last year. Somehow, all four were in battleground states.

Put that together with the Justice Department's efforts to install U.S. attorneys who are gung-ho about voter fraud prosecutions and the picture becomes clearer.

Today Richard A. Hertling informed the Senate Judicary Committee that Bradley Schlozman would not be able to testify before the Committee on May 15th because Schlozman will be on a previously scheduled vacation.

Text beneath the fold.

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Check out some snapshots from the Caribbean cruise businessman Warren Trepp sent Gov. Jim Gibbons (R.-NV) and his wife on in 2005.



Trepp is the founder of eTreppid, a company for which Gibbons helped secure federal contracts while a member of the House. Gibbons is now reportedly under FBI investigation for his involvement with Trepp.

You can see the photos here. (Be sure to scroll down for the group shot.) It looks like a good time.

The pictures accompany an NBC interview with Dennis Montgomery, who raised the bribery allegations in a lawsuit he filed against Trepp, his former business partner, over intellectual property infringement of software he says he created. During the interview, Montgomery describes just how certain he is that Trepp gave Gibbons $100,000 in cash and casino chips on the cruise.

Dennis Montgomery: There was a lot of alcohol and a lot of drinking. And that's when I first saw Warren give Jim Gibbons money.

Lisa Myers: How much?

Montgomery: Close to $100,000.

Myers: How can you know?

Montgomery: Because he gave him casino chips and cash.

Myers: Are you sure about what you saw?

Montgomery: I'm absolutely, positively sure.

No more absentee landlords!

It's hard work for Democrats undoing the damage of the Patriot Act Reauthorization bill passed last year, a huge bill that contained a number of provisions that affected U.S. attorneys.

Last month, the Congress passed* a bill reversing one of those provisions -- one that made it possible for the attorney general to indefinitely appoint U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation.

Now Four Democrats are trying to undo another of those little-noticed provisions -- one that made it possible for certain U.S. attorneys to pull double duty in the Justice Department leadership. The provision was shepherded through by William Mercer, the principal associate deputy attorney general, who's also the U.S. Attorney for Montana. When the chief judge in his district, hopping mad that Mercer is gone almost all the time, charged that Mercer was violating the residency requirement for U.S. attorneys, Mercer had the law changed. And he's kept both jobs for two years.

But Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Max Baucus (D-MT), and Jon Tester (D-MT) will introduce legislation on Monday to change the law back to what it was. “U.S. Attorneys cannot do their jobs adequately from Washington, D.C.," Feinstein said. "The position requires a huge commitment.”

The punchline to all this, remember, is that Justice Department officials have claimed that U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias was fired because he was an "absentee landlord," spending 30 days a year away from the office -- on Navy reserve duty.

*Update: A TPM reader points out to me that although both houses have passed a version of this bill, they have not yet been reconciled in conference. So the Congress hasn't yet passed a final version.

OK, one last clip from yesterday's hearing, one that I didn't get to yesterday out of sheer Gonzales fatigue.

But it encapsulates the absurdity of Gonzales' claim of "full responsibility" for the firings while at the same time hiding behind a review "process" that, as everyone now knows, was a joke.

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) asked Gonzales a simple question: was it a mistake to fire the eight prosecutors?

And here we go down the rabbit hole...



Gonzales: ...I stand by the decision.

Sherman: So if you had it do all over again, these eight would be toast?

Gonzales: No, again, because we would have used a different process. And I don’t know if using a different process, the same recommendations would have come to me. I relied upon….

Sherman: I’m asking you whether you made a mistake, not whether you like your process. The conclusion to fire these eight, was that the right, best thing to do for the administration of justice?

Gonzales: I think... I stand by the decision. In hindsight, I’m not happy with the process. I know that… to me, the process was important, too. And I think using a different process, we may have come out with different recommendations to me, which would have made a difference… perhaps.


If I could dare to summarize: Gonzales stands by his decision to fire those eight, but if he had it to do all over again, he would have fired somebody else.

Amazing... Gonzales makes Kyle Sampson look like a model of directness.

It's a done deal. From the AP:

A federal judge approved an immunity deal Friday allowing former Justice Department aide Monica Goodling to testify before Congress about the firing of eight federal prosecutors.

Goodling, who served as the department's White House liaison, has refused to discuss the firings without a guarantee that she will not be prosecuted. Congress agreed to the deal, Justice Department investigators reluctantly agreed not to not oppose it and U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan gave it final approval Friday.


That's a hearing I look forward to.

White House Sought Investigations of Voter Fraud Allegations Before Elections "Only weeks before last year's pivotal midterm elections, the White House urged the Justice Department to pursue voter-fraud allegations against Democrats in three battleground states, a high-ranking Justice official has told congressional investigators. In two instances in October 2006, President Bush's political adviser, Karl Rove, or his deputies passed the allegations on to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' then-chief of staff, Kyle Sampson." (McClatchy Newspapers)

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If at first you don't succeed, investigate again.

That, at least, seems to be Karl Rove's philosophy.

As McClatchy and The Washington Post report this morning, Rove requested last October that the Justice Department investigate allegations of voter fraud in three jurisdictions. Those three were Milwaukee, New Mexico and Philadelphia -- all battleground states.

The White House really put the heat on. McClatchy reports that at least twice in October, Rove or his deputies passed on word of the allegations to Kyle Sampson. In addition, both Rove and President Bush raised the issue with Alberto Gonzales the same month.

Sampson, in turn, passed on the allegations to a Justice Department official named Matthew Friedrich. Friedrich dutifully agreed "to find out whether Justice officials knew of 'rampant' voter fraud or 'lax' enforcement in parts of New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and report back."

Friedrich has told congressional investigators that Sampson also gave him a 30-page report prepared by Wisconsin Republicans about voter fraud in Milwaukee. Sampson apparently expected Friedrich to pass it on to the department's criminal division. Friedrich says he didn't do that because that would "violate strict Justice rules that limit the pursuit of voter-related investigations close to an election." (At least someone in the Justice Department cares about that rule.)

Now, you can see that 30-page report, titled "Fraud in Wisconsin 2004: A Timeline/Summary" here (pdf, see page 10). As the title would indicate, it was nothing but a collection of news clippings related to voter fraud allegations in Milwaukee... in the 2004 election.

Two things about that. First, it appears that Rove wanted the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation of two-year old allegations right before the 2006 election. But second, these allegations had already been investigated -- as part of the most comprehensive effort by a U.S. attorney's office to investigate voter fraud in the entire country. The U.S. attorney there, Steven Biskupic, launched a joint task force with local prosecutors to probe allegations of fraud in the 2004 election. Finally, more than a year after the election, Biskupic announced that the task force hadn't in fact found evidence of a conspiracy to steal the election. But prosecutors nevertheless prosecuted nearly twenty individual cases for a variety of voting-related offenses (Biskupic's office handled 14). No U.S. attorney office in the country can touch those numbers.

But that apparently wasn't good enough for Rove, who thought that Biskupic had been "lax" in his approach to voter fraud.

The only thing that saved Biskupic from being fired, according to the Post, is that "Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty argued against the firing, saying it would 'not be a wise thing to do politically' and could raise 'the ire' of Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), who had recommended Biskupic and was then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee."

David Iglesias of New Mexico, obviously, wasn't so lucky. Nevermind that, together with Biskupic, he was the only other U.S. attorney to have launched a voter fraud task force in the 2004 election -- and that the Justice Department had him and Biskupic teach a seminar on election crimes. He hadn't convinced the person whose opinion matters most at the Justice Department: Karl Rove's.

Note: In case you're wondering about the U.S. attorney in Philadelphia and why he wasn't fired.... Pat Meehan was formerly senior counsel to Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), formerly the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee -- now the ranking member. If they didn't want to risk the ire of Rep. Sensenbrenner, they certainly didn't want an angry Sen. Specter.

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