TPM News

From CREW:

CREW wants the immediate appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate potential criminal violations related to the recent dismissals of eight U.S. Attorneys. Recent revelations indicate that a top-ranking Department of Justice official knew that statements made by top Department officials were not true. Clearly, the Department of Justice cannot investigate itself and prosecute the misconduct of DOJ officials.

My, my. Less than a month before a Justice Department official told Congress that U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesisas was fired for performance concerns, the Attorney General's chief of staff told Iglesias that he could use Gonzales as a reference.

On January 10, Iglesias wrote to Kyle Sampson and asked if he could use Gonzales as a reference, since "I'll be resigning in the next month or so and am looking for a job."

Sampson responded later that day: "You can list the AG as a reference -- not a problem. Good luck!"

Read the email exchange here.

See it for yourself, the September 13, 2006 email from Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, to Justice Department liaison to White House counsel Harriet Miers.

Fifteen minutes earlier, Sampson had sent the same email to the Justice Department's liaison to the White House, Monica Goodling, asking "Any corrections?" before sending it over.

In the email, Sampson outlines the "USAs We Now Should Consider Pushing Out." They were: Arizona's Paul Charlton, San Diego's Carol Lam, Western Michigan's Margaret Chiara, Nevada's Daniel Bogden, and Seattle's John McKay. All five were eventually fired. Arkansas' Bud Cummins had his own heading, "USA in the Process of Being Pushed Out."

In the summary portion of the email, Sampson lays out his recommendation to use a legal loophole to install replacements without Senate confirmation.

"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 -- It will be counterproductive to DOJ operations if we push USAs out and then don't have replacements ready to roll immediately. In addition, I strongly recommend that as a matter of administration, we utilize the new statutory provisions that authorize the AG to make USA appointments.... we can give far less deference to home state senators and thereby get 1.) our preferred person appointed and 2.) do it far faster and more efficiently at less political costs to the White House."


Sampson added, intrigiuingly, that he had "one follow up item I would want to do over the phone."

The House Judiciary Committee has made the documents available online here (pdf) and here (pdf).

See anything interesting? Let us know. We'll be doing running posts on the documents.

Update: And here are parts 3 and 4 of the documents.

One point that needs to be made about the flurry of revelations this morning.

The version of events reported by The Washington Post and New York Times has a rather minimal role for Karl Rove. An "associate" of Rove told the Times that he only "learned in November that the prosecutors were being replaced."

But that doesn't square with the facts. Bud Cummins, the former U.S. Attorney for Eastern Arkansas, was fired in June last year. And in September, Timothy Griffin, Rove's former aide, started work as a special assistant to Cummins.

That clearly was no coincidence.

That same month, Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle Sampson put together a short list of candidates to be fired. Cummins, he wrote in the email, was "in the process of being pushed out." At the same time, he advocated using a loophole in the law to install Griffin and the administration's other picks through 2008 without Senate confirmation.

And at whose urging was Griffin put in? In one of the emails to be released today, Sampson wrote that getting Griffin appointed was "important to Harriet, Karl, etc."

So it was "important" to Rove that Griffin be made a U.S. attorney and steps were taken in September to make sure that Griffin was indeed installed... but Rove didn't know anything about it until November?

Just over the transom... as calls for his resignation get louder, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will be holding a press conference at the Department of Justice at 2:00 PM today.

This morning, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) held a press conference to express their anger at the recent revelations from the Justice Department and White House.

In it, Schumer said that the resignation of Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle Sampson "does not take heat off the attorney general. In fact, it raises the temperature. Kyle Sampson will not become the next Scooter Libby, the next fall guy."



We've got the full transcript of the conference below...

Read More →

From the Justice Department to Congress to you.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and subcommittee Chairwoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA) will be holding a press conference at noon to address the next steps in their US Attorney investigation... and release the Department of Justice documents from today's Times and Post stories. We'll let you know as soon as they're available.

White House Testimony Sought on CIA Leak "Rep. Henry A. Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, might ask White House officials to testify about their actions involving the CIA leak case, Democratic sources tell Politico. President Bush has resisted past calls for appearances by his advisers, so the request could provoke another showdown between the White House and the new Democratic Congress." (The Politico)

Read More →

Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) will be holding a press conference at 10:45 today to discuss the latest revelations.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT), meanwhile, is none too happy:

“The White House and the Attorney General have dodged Congress’s questions and ducked accountability as if they still were dealing with a rubberstamp Congress. They are discovering that those days are gone.

“I am outraged that the Attorney General was less than forthcoming with the Senate while under oath before the Judiciary Committee. It is deeply disturbing that this plan appears to have originated from high-ranking officials at the White House and executed in secret with a complicit Department of Justice.

“This is not how justice is served, nor is it how our system of checks and balances is designed to work. It is an abuse of power committed in secret to steer certain outcomes in our justice system, and then to dust over the tracks. The President of the United States and the Attorney General are responsible for setting the moral standard for this Administration. Apparently this matter does not bother them but it does bother me, and we will summon whoever we need in our hearings to get to the bottom of this.”

TPMLivewire