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And we're back.

Since our last roll call, Gonzales received some Republican support during his House Judiciary Committee testimony. But the loss of his #2 Paul McNulty and the recent testimony of former Deputy Attorney General Comey have gained Gonzales a few more detractors in the Senate. Here -- as Democrats push for a no-confidence vote in the Senate -- is a complete list of Republicans who are saying (or hinting) that the Attorney General should go.

Update: We've added Sen. Coleman to the list, who joined the club today. Update: Sen. Kit Bond has joined us.

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In a press conference today, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), following the revelations in James Comey's testimony Tuesday and The Washington Post's story today that as many as 26 U.S. attorneys were considered for removal, called for a no-confidence vote concerning Alberto Gonzales in the Senate.

Here's some video:

Ever since James Comey's testimony Tuesday, there's been a renewed burst of speculation about just what secret domestic surveilance program(s) the administration has been running.

Marty Lederman over at Balkinization offers a great rundown of the best guesses about what the administration has been up to.

But Comey's testimony and new details in The New York Times this morning mean that it's now possible to lay out a timeline of why all of this came to a head in March of 2004 when the program had been going on for more than two years at that point.

A TPM Reader writes in to lay it all out:

We’re starting to see a timeline emerge on the confrontation between the White House and Justice on domestic spying.

The first date to mark on your calendar, I think, is October 3, 2003. That’s when the Senate confirms Jack L. Goldsmith as the Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel. In June, with Goldsmith’s nomination before the senate, John Yoo had left his job as the deputy at OLC to return to his teaching gig at Boalt.

Fast forward to December 11, 2003, when Comey is confirmed as Deputy Attorney General. He immediately assumes a more aggessive posture than his predecessor, Larry Thompson. The Times reports this morning that “with Mr. Comey’s backing, Mr. Goldsmith questioned what he considered shaky legal reasoning in several crucial opinions, including some drafted by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo.”

But that was just the beginning. Thompson had not been authorized access to the details of the NSA program. But, reports the NYTimes, “Comey was eventually authorized to take part in the program and to review intelligence material that grew out of it” (1/1/06). He set Goldsmith to the task of sorting through the program’s dubious legality. Goldsmith’s “review of legal memoranda on the N.S.A. program and interrogation practices became a source of friction between Mr. Comey and the White House,” the Times reports today. And we know from Comey’s testimony that by “the White House,” we mean, principally, Dick Cheney and David Addington.

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No Dissent on Spying Program, Says Justice Department "The Justice Department said yesterday that it will not retract a sworn statement in 2006 by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales that the Terrorist Surveillance Program had aroused no controversy inside the Bush administration, despite congressional testimony Tuesday that senior departmental officials nearly resigned in 2004 to protest such a program. The department's affirmation of Gonzales's remarks raised fresh questions about the nature of the classified dispute, which former U.S. officials say led then-Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey and as many as eight colleagues to discuss resigning." (Washington Post)

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It's a U.S. attorney firing extravaganza!

26 of the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys were on the firing list at one time or another, reports The Washington Post. It's a list too long and mixed to even try to make sense of. As Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) puts it, the many lists "show how amok this process was."

Let's start with those names that make some sense, given with what we know about the firings so far, and move on to those that don't.

McClatchy reports that two of those names were Gregory Miller, the U.S. attorney for the northern district of Florida in Tallahassee, and Bill Leone, the former acting U.S. attorney for Colorado. Both are battleground states, McClatchy notes, "where allegations of voter fraud and countercharges of voter intimidation have flown in recent years" -- and both are states that preoccupy Karl Rove. Miller appears to have been on the chopping block from the beginning of the process through the end, but somehow escaped -- he's still there. Silsby's still there, too.

Neither Miller or Leone claim to have much of a clue as to what might have put them on a list of U.S. attorneys to be fired. But from both of their backgrounds -- Miller is a career federal prosecutor and Leone is a career trial lawyer who had five years prosecutorial experience when he became the U.S. attorney -- it's evident that neither comfortably fit the description of "loyal Bushies."

The same goes for Maine's Paula Silsby, who apparently made a number of appearances on the firing lists through November 2006, according to the Post. Silsby is that rare thing -- a court appointed U.S. attorney (appointed in 2001, far before the Justice Department slipped in a provision to take that power away from the courts). And although she enjoys the support of Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-ME), Silsby has never been nominated for the spot by President Bush. You won't be shocked to learn that Silsby's only real qualification is that she's qualified -- she's been an assistant U.S. attorney in that office for 24 years.

But now on to those U.S. attorneys on the list who don't fit the pattern. From the Post:

One memo sent to Sampson last November from Michael J. Elston, chief of staff to the deputy attorney general, suggested firing Mary Beth Buchanan, the U.S. attorney in Pittsburgh, who supervised the nation's prosecutors for a year and now heads the Office on Violence Against Women, sources said.

The same e-mail also listed prosecutor Christopher J. Christie in New Jersey, a major GOP donor who has undertaken several high-profile public-corruption probes -- including one into the real estate deals of Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) -- and who announced indictments in a terrorism case last week.


Now, I just find this confusing. Buchanan is an administration favorite -- she's one of those few U.S. attorneys who've pulled double duty with a second job at main Justice and was even consulted as part of the U.S. attorney firing process. And Christie, as the Post points out, has all the right qualifications and has pursued all the right prosecutions. So what gives?

Of course, neither Buchanan or Christie actually got the ax. And with all these names flying back and forth, some of them suggested by Justice Department officials, there are still only six U.S. attorneys who are at the center of this controversy, all of whom were apparently targeted for removal by the White House for reasons that no one has explained. Those names stuck. Why?

Here's Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) on Hardball earlier this afternoon on how long Alberto Gonzales will be able to stick around at the Department Justice.

Democrats are loathe to use the tool of impeachment, Whitehouse said, but added "I think that as we continue to put the pressure on, it may get to the point where even if the president’s highest purpose is to get his administration out of Washington without further indictment, it’s still not worth it to carry the weight of Attorney General Gonzales and his incompetent and very unprincipled administration of the Department of Justice."

With immunity secured, Monica Goodling has been scheduled to testify about the U.S. attorney firings before the House Judiciary Committee next Wednesday, May 23rd at 10:15 AM.

As ex-U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias has said, Goodling, the former White House liaison to the Justice Department, holds the "keys to the kingdom."

Nothing like an angry letter from two senior senators to get results.

Late this afternoon, the Justice Department responded to the Senate Judiciary Committee's subpoena for any of Karl Rove's emails in the Department's possession that might be relevant to the U.S. attorney firings.

And the results? (pdf) Underwhelming. The Department searched the email accounts of sixteen Justice Department officials over the period of November 1, 2004 through May 2, 2007. All they found, according to the letter from Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling, was a single email sent on February 28, 2007 forwarding a copy of McClatchy's bombshell story on U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias. Attached is an already produced email from Rove's aide Scott Jennings warning that the story was on its way (Jennings notes that Sen. Pete Domenici's (R-NM) strategy is "not to respond [to requests for comment] and hopefully make this a one day story").

Hertling added in the letter that the Department is continuing to search for relevant documents.

Hertling also revealed that Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald also didn't have any relevant documents. Fitzgerald, remember, obtained a number of Rove's emails as part of the Valerie Plame investigation. But Hertling said that Fitzgerald had only obtained emails relevant to the Plame investigation -- not all of Rove's emails. And none of what Fitzgerald has, Hertling says, is relevant to the U.S. attorney firings.

Remember that Rove seems to have used an email account provided by the Republican National Committee for virtually all of his email correspondence (and Rove apparently deleted a lot of those). The RNC has said that it will turn over all relevant emails to the White House, which will then make a determination of whether the emails are protected by executive privilege before turning anything over to Congress. In other words, it's going to be hard slog before Congress gets what it's looking for.

A third corruption guilty plea since last week came out of Alaska yesterday. This time, prominent lobbyist Bill Bobrick owned up to a conspiracy to bribe former state Rep. Tom Anderson, who himself was indicted on seven felony counts of bribery, extortion and money laundering in December.

Last week, top executives at one of Bobrick’s client companies, VECO Corp., pled guilty to charges of bribing three state representatives and two senators.

The Anchorage Daily News had the story on Bobrick this morning.

The prosecution says in court papers that Bobrick and Anderson began conspiring in July 2004. Bobrick created a sham company to funnel payments to Anderson in exchange for his doing the bidding of a private corrections company in the state Legislature, the prosecution says.

Prosecutors quote Bobrick telling an informant that he and Anderson were "pitching a bunch of people" to get money for the legislator.

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