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David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

Take a look at what the U.S. attorney scandal has wrought by way of media coverage in Pittsburgh--and consider the implications for every federal prosecutor in the country. As Bud Cummins wrote yesterday in an email to TPMmuckraker, "Once the public detects partisanship in one important decision, they will follow the natural inclination to question every decision made, whether there is a connection or not." [Thanks to TPM Reader NW for the tip.]

Newsweek poll: "Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed-–including 45 percent of Republicans-–say the ouster of the federal prosecutors was driven by political concerns."

Kyle Sampson may have resigned as Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff, but he's showing signs of not being willing to be scapegoated for the entire U.S. Attorney scandal.

As Paul notes, Sampson's lawyer, former Bush Administration official Bradford Berenson, released a statement late Friday that includes this rat-jumping-ship gem:

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.


Sen. Schumer said this week that Sampson would not become the next Scooter Libby, a fall guy for a scheme hatched at the highest levels of the Bush Administration. Sampson seems to be saying the same thing.

TPM Reader JT shares my reaction to last night's McClatchy account of Alberto Gonzales' conference call with U.S. Attorneys:

The Bushie justification of the firings rests entirely on their adamant insistence that the firings were based on poor job performance, even to the point of finding convoluted ways to explain away the consistently positive performance reviews so many were getting right up to the minute they were fired.

So, if Gonzales has now admitted that the public statements about job performance were 'inaccurate', what is left as a rationale for firing the USA's except political reasons? Hasn't he just blown their whole defense here?


As I say, that raised my eyebrows, too. Without calling into question McClatchy's reporting here, because they have had a stellar record on this story, it is hard for me to believe that Gonzales didn't give a very carefully hedged apology that would have stopped short of saying the public statements about job performance were "inaccurate." This will be worth keeping an eye on because JT is right that if accurate this account leaves the Administration's defense in tatters.

In an effort to save his job, Alberto Gonzales apologized to all U.S. attorneys in a conference call today and brought in a veteran of the Ashcroft years as his interim chief of staff. The apology was not for the firings, but for how they were handled, according to McClatchy. and apparently included an apology for "inaccurate public statements about poor job performance." The interim chief of staff is Chuck Rosenberg, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia who previously served as chief of staff to then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey.

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