Last night, the Justice Department provided Congress with a list of documents related to the U.S. attorneys firings that it was withholding -- all of them either documents or emails sent to or received by Kyle Sampson. You can see the list here.
The reason Congress won't be seeing these, Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling wrote in a letter to the House and Senate judiciary committees, is because the Department has "substantial concerns about the disclosure of documents that were generated after December 7, 2006 for the purpose of responding to congressional and media inquiries about the resignations of the U.S. Attorneys."
All of the withheld documents disclosed today supposedly meet that description -- but then, so do a number of the documents the Department has already released. So what makes these different? It's not clear.
And some of these documents do sound very interesting. Take, for example, Sampson's email to White House counsel Harriet Miers on January 7th. It's described as "Discussion, re: processes for filling USA vacancies, including appointment of acting/interim USAs." In other words, it sounds like Sampson was conferring with Miers over how the fired U.S. attorneys should be replaced -- and possibly who they might be replaced with. And it seems like it was a spirited discussion. Sampson sent two more two page emails to Miers that day, which are only described as "further discussion" of the issue. Over the next couple days, Sampson forwarded that discussion to a number of senior Justice Department officials.
Marcy Wheeler has a rundown of other withheld documents of note.
The judiciary committees are in talks with the Justice Department over the withtheld documents, which are, after all, under subpoena.
Note: Along with the list of withheld documents, the Justice Department also turned over a couple of emails that have DoJ officials reacting to stories about the firings in the Post and the Times. You can see them here.