More on BushCo's purge of the U.S. Attorneys

Sacked for Indicting Republicans
and Not Indicting Democrats?

Michael Collins in “Scoop”


AND

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall
(March 13, 2007 — 12:00 AM EDT)
Uh-oh … Bush got Iglesias axed.
From the Times


The White House was deeply involved in the decision late last year to dismiss federal prosecutors, including some who had been criticized by Republican lawmakers, administration officials said Monday.

Last October, President Bush spoke with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday. Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, was among the politicians who complained directly to the president, according to an administration official.

Perhaps as telling, according to the new Times article, Kyle Sampson, Alberto Gonzales’s Chief of Staff and the guy who was actually in charge of drawing up the list … well, he resigned today.
Believe me, his boss won’t long outlast him.
And one other tidbit — Sampson had a partner in assembling the list: then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
Late Update: There’s a sub-issue emerging in the canned US Attorneys scandal: the apparently central role of Republican claims of voter fraud and prosecutors unwillingness to bring indictments emerging from such alleged wrongdoing. Very longtime readers of this site will remember that this used to be something of a hobby horse of mine. And it’s not surprising that it is now emerging as a key part of this story. The very short version of this story is that Republicans habitually make claims about voter fraud. But the charges are almost invariably bogus. And in most if not every case the claims are little more than stalking horses for voter suppression efforts. That may sound like a blanket charge. But I’ve reported on and written about this issue at great length. And there’s simply no denying the truth of it. So this becomes a critical backdrop to understanding what happened in some of these cases. Why didn’t the prosecutors pursue indictments when GOP operatives started yakking about voter fraud? Almost certainly because there just wasn’t any evidence for it.
Gonna Be A Long Night Update: The Post also got a piece of the Monday document dump. And their piece is now up too. Many of the key points are the same as what appears in the Times. But key new details are also included. Perhaps the most important of which is this: the Patriot Act provision allowing the Attorney General to appoint US Attorneys by fiat was at the heart of this. The Post quotes an email from the now resigned Sampson in which he tells Miers: “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. I strongly recommend that as a matter of administration, we utilize the new statutory provisions that authorize the AG to make USA appointments. [By sidestepping the confirmation process] 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.”

And here’s the piece in the Post story which should lead to Sen. Domenici’s departure from the senate …

One e-mail from Miers’s deputy, William Kelley, on the day of the Dec. 7 firings said Domenici’s chief of staff “is happy as a clam” about Iglesias. Sampson wrote in an e-mail a week later: “Domenici is going to send over names tomorrow (not even waiting for Iglesias’s body to cool).”

As has happened so many times in the last six years, the maximal version of this story — which seemed logical six weeks ago but which I couldn’t get myself to believe — turns out to be true. Indeed, it’s worse. We now know that Gonzales, McNulty and Moschella each lied to Congress. We know that the purge was a plan that began at the White House — and it was overseen by two of President Bush’s closest lieutenants in Washington — Miers and Gonzales. Sampson is the second resignation. There will certainly be more.
And remember this key point: The ‘document dump’ is meant to get bad news out of the way fast. But it’s always a hedge. It never includes the really bad stuff. And if you’re not in deep crisis mode, ya’ never do it on a Monday.

— Josh Marshall

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