The Plot Thickens
March 19, 2007 8:55 PM   Subscribe

United States attorneys can be fired whenever a president wants, but not, as § 1512 (c) puts it, to corruptly obstruct, influence, or impede an official proceeding. "The day the news broke that Ms. Lam, who had already put one Republican congressman in jail, was investigating a second one, Mr. Sampson wrote an e-mail message referring to the “real problem we have right now with Carol Lam.” Bush, Gonzales and Rove are trying to cover their tracks.
posted by meddeviceengineer (143 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Surely this...
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:00 PM on March 19, 2007 [4 favorites]

It looks like Gonzales has also been trying cover his tracks on the warrantless eavesdropping program.
posted by homunculus at 9:11 PM on March 19, 2007

Surely this will be resolved by a song-and-dance showstopper.

I mean, it's time for a new cliche.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:12 PM on March 19, 2007

Given all this, you would be tempted to think so.
posted by toma at 9:12 PM on March 19, 2007

Bush can claim Executive Privilege and the Democratic Congress are too cowardly to challenge the claim. The members of the Congressional majority are so scared of their own shadow they won't even go on the Colbert Report.

So unless Ms. Lam was uncovering a neocon-spiracy to snack on freshly-born Iraqi babies, all of the Honorable Sen. Leahy's breast-beating is for show.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:15 PM on March 19, 2007

The document dump has begun on the Judiciary Committee web site.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:15 PM on March 19, 2007

For us slow ones on the short bus, might someone explain why the Congressional majority feels it is not in their best interest to beat Bush et al. like red-headed step-children for the next 18 months?
posted by docgonzo at 9:22 PM on March 19, 2007

Let's see, it looks like it's time to spin the Wheel of Distraction- will it be Gay Marriage, Immigration, perhaps Stem Cell research? Maybe our old favorite- Death Penalty! Oh, I know, maybe some more of Obama's ancestry antics?!?

Excuse me, while I practice my headdesk taiko, it's a demanding art form.
posted by yeloson at 9:23 PM on March 19, 2007

Interesting.. there was some schmo on NPR today talking about this issue that I eventually had to turn off because his weasel-word quotient was abysmally high.

I wanna see those subpoenas roll and almost hope "executive privilege" is invoked.
Ultimately you may be right Blazecock Pileon, but there does seem to be some spark in the Ds nowadays while the Rs run and seem to be remarkably quiet. Hell when the BBC starts running stories that Fred Thompson may be the salvation of the republican party you know times are tough for the tight-asses.
posted by edgeways at 9:25 PM on March 19, 2007

Is there a betting pool on when Gonzales will decide to "spend more time with his family"?

$5 on, erm... March 25th.
posted by edgeways at 9:27 PM on March 19, 2007

Is there a betting pool on when Gonzales will decide to "spend more time with his family"?

$5 on, erm... March 25th.

You know the Empire always dumps their garbage before they jump to hyperspace. Or, in this case, go home for the weekend.

Thus, he'll be axed at 5:30pm this Friday.
posted by dw at 9:35 PM on March 19, 2007 [4 favorites]

no way. the Rs are hemorrhaging and the Ds can smell the blood. In the past two years how many high ranking republican's have been convicted? Off the top of my head, I can think of a vice presidential chief of staff and a california congresscritter.

that is very encouraging.
posted by Tryptophan-5ht at 9:43 PM on March 19, 2007


you miss a very important part of the majority: The democrats set the agenda. We're not going to be hearing anything about gay marriage, immigration, flag burning, or stem cell research unless it's on the Dem's terms.

And right now I think the Dem's are enjoying supeona power a little too much. Pay back's a bitch, especially when the general public is sick and tired of your ass as well.
posted by slapshot57 at 9:48 PM on March 19, 2007

This place seems to think it is a done deal that Albert is out.

wonder how many, "Heckof a job Al" jokes will be made
posted by edgeways at 9:48 PM on March 19, 2007

Can I just say this: Having a democratic majority fucking rocks. If this had happened two years ago nothing would have come of it. The bush administration has never had to operate in this kind of environment, and it's clear that they have no fucking idea how to deal with it.
posted by delmoi at 9:49 PM on March 19, 2007 [5 favorites]

One of the potential replacements for Abu Gonzales will be George J. Terwilliger III
posted by delmoi at 9:51 PM on March 19, 2007

see the latest dumped docs scanned in real time. The DOJ just released 3,000 pages today. They are being scanned by Congressional staffers as we speak.
posted by delmoi at 9:54 PM on March 19, 2007

hope someone out there is archiving it as it comes up,
posted by edgeways at 9:56 PM on March 19, 2007

you miss a very important part of the majority: The democrats set the agenda. We're not going to be hearing anything about gay marriage, immigration, flag burning, or stem cell research unless it's on the Dem's terms.

Exactly. It's been fourteen years since the democrats have had this kind of power. I was only 14 when the changeover happened, I think most mefites were not nearly as politically plugged in the last time the dems had this kind of power. It's totally new.

The republicans (or Bush, anyway) have the power to actually do things, but democrats control the discussion, entirely.

We decide what gets talked about now, not the republicans. It's sad that the Democrats can't stop the Iraq war yet, but Shumer and Co. can investigate this prosecutor gate to their hearts content.
posted by delmoi at 10:04 PM on March 19, 2007

It's impressive how quickly the NY Times got a story out of those emails. Turns out Mr. Patrick Fitzgerald was "not distinguished" on the list of ratings.
posted by smackfu at 10:12 PM on March 19, 2007

Just another reason Bush will live out the rest of his life in Paraguay.
posted by T.D. Strange at 10:21 PM on March 19, 2007

Anyone for Mr. Patrick Fitzgerand as the new AG nominee?
posted by deCadmus at 10:29 PM on March 19, 2007

Or, perhaps Mr. Fitzgerald, instead. (sheesh)
posted by deCadmus at 10:30 PM on March 19, 2007

From the new NYT article:
After a colleague said in a July 8 e-mail message that he was “sad” about something, Bill Mercer, a top Justice Department official, jokingly suggested some reasons.

“That Carol Lam can’t meet a deadline,” he wrote, “or that you’ll need to interact with her in the coming weeks or that she won’t just say, ‘O.K. You got me. You’re right, I’ve ignored national priorities and obvious local needs. Shoot, my production is more hideous than I realized.’ ”
The NYT is picking out the good parts, of course, but that text almost strikes me as too tidy. Carol Lam was the prosecutor who had convicted Cunningham just four months before that email, and whose firing justifications have been most inconsistent. I hate conspiracy theories, but right now, I can't say that I trust the DOJ to investigate the Attorney General.
posted by gsteff at 10:34 PM on March 19, 2007

More importantly, Carol Lam testified that no one told her she was doing anything incorrectly ever. The cooked up all of these excuses since early 2005, but no one bothered to mention any of these things to Lam. So the emails provide thin cover. Or maybe Carol Lam is lying, which she could probably get away with, I mean who would trust Karl Rove's idiots over the person who prosecuted Duke Cunningham? Pretty hard to believe, though.
posted by delmoi at 10:51 PM on March 19, 2007

posted by pointilist at 10:53 PM on March 19, 2007

Anyone for Mr. Patrick Fitzgerald as the new AG nominee?

LOL. Bush will nominate someone we've never heard of. I wouldn't be too surprised if his first nominee doesn't get appointed. Remember, his nominee can only become A.G. if the democratic senate approves. No more cronies for shrubya.
posted by delmoi at 10:55 PM on March 19, 2007

I'd lay money on Bush picking someone dull and non controversial. Pretty soon it'll be one long slog to the end with much damage control.
posted by edgeways at 11:06 PM on March 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Our lives and the law are being slowly boiled away, but we, the frog in the pot, don't have the sense to jump out.

I hope my legs are at least delicious and tender.
posted by tehloki at 11:10 PM on March 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

Tastes like chicken.
posted by deCadmus at 11:14 PM on March 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Speaking of plot thickening... when is someone going to get to the bottom of Duncan Hunter's involvement with Randy Cunningham, Mitchell Wade, MZM, Dusty Foggo, Brent Wilkes and the rest of the San Diego war machine crime syndicate?

"Hunter was a close ally of former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a California Republican who was sentenced to more than eight years in prison this year for accepting $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors. Hunter has accepted $46,000 in campaign donations from the same contractors at the center of the Cunningham scandal, Brent Wilkes and Mitchell Wade, and their associates."

Is his campaign for President a real one? or a smokescreen for his criminal involvement with the aforementioned?

AND... is investigation of Hunter and Foggo the REAL reason LAM was fired?
posted by specialk420 at 11:36 PM on March 19, 2007

Is there a betting pool on when Gonzales will decide to "spend more time with his family"?

Actually, you can put real money on Gonzales at Intrade. On the left menu select Current Events, then White House. For a contract betting on resignation by the end of March, 65 gets you 100. For the contract betting on resignation by the end of 2007, 95 gets you 100. Odds seem to be running strongly against Gonzales. You can read the prices as the percentage probability of the event occurring, according to the traders.
posted by JackFlash at 11:51 PM on March 19, 2007

I'm surprised that we aren't hearing more about MZM's first federal contract to provide office equipment to Cheney for $140,000 which not so coincidentally was the exact amount of the check that Wade used to buy Cunningham's boat a short time after they got paid.

Lam had noticed this and was starting to dig.

(looking for a link)
posted by bashos_frog at 3:15 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wai,t you mean the Bush administration broke the law? And, and lied to us?

I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked.

If I were the Democrats, I'd work my ass off to impeach Cheney and Bush, so that Pelosi could become President. This would delfate any chance Hillary has of winning the presidency, thus ridding the Democrats of three irritants at once.
posted by eustacescrubb at 3:35 AM on March 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

ok, found it.
– Wade’s company MZM Inc. received its first federal contract from the White House. The contract, which ran from July 15 to August 15, 2002, stipulated that Wade be paid $140,000 to “provide office furniture and computers for Vice President Dick Cheney.”

– Two weeks later, on August 30, 2002, Wade purchased a yacht for $140,000 for Duke Cunningham. The boat’s name was later changed to the “Duke-Stir.” Said one party to the sale: “I knew then that somebody was going to go to jail for that…Duke looked at the boat, and Wade bought it — all in one day. Then they got on the boat and floated away.”

– According to Cunningham’s sentencing memorandum, the purchase price of the boat had been negotiated through a third-party earlier that summer, around the same time the White House contract was signed.
posted by bashos_frog at 3:35 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

...all of the Honorable Sen. Leahy's breast-beating is for show.

I don't think this is true, but even if it were, please note that this is more than we would have gotten from Rubberstamplicans. Also, "for show" is a big deal in politics.
posted by DU at 4:16 AM on March 20, 2007

if the democratic senate approves.

What Democratic Senate? There's 48 D, 49 R, one I who acts like an Independant, and "I must blow the President" Lieberman.

IOW, it's 50-50 for the President, and Dick Cheney will get to pick the AG. Unless the Democrats filibuster, hardy har har.
posted by eriko at 4:21 AM on March 20, 2007

My predicition, GW trades Gonzalez's head on a platter for Rove et al. testifying behind closed doors. Leahey takes the offer to avoid a showdown over executive privilege. I hope not, because Rove is such a lying weasal that if he goes under oath he is sure to perjure himself.
posted by caddis at 5:23 AM on March 20, 2007

The crew at TPM are going through the docs and posting what they find. It's an interesting example of citizen reporting.
posted by poxuppit at 5:24 AM on March 20, 2007

Hey, look over there! Gay illegal alien flag-burning atheist Mexicans from Iran!
posted by Flunkie at 6:00 AM on March 20, 2007

IOW, it's 50-50 for the President, and Dick Cheney will get to pick the AG.

First of all, there's 49 proper Ds (Tim Johnson is not dead). Bernie Sanders caucuses with the Democrats and Lieberman claims to ("Independent Democrat"). So basically Lieberman picks the AG, not Cheney. While one could argue this is a distinction without a difference, at least Holy Joe panders to a democratic constituency.
posted by rkent at 6:23 AM on March 20, 2007

omg look everyone - missing boy scout! Missing boy scout, everyone! Missing boy scout!
posted by Saucy Intruder at 6:39 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oops. I meant to type 49-49, and I forgot about Johnson's current infirmity. IIRC, he's currently not voting, which means that yes, Lieberman choses the AG.

Since he will, of course, support the President at War -- check his statements on Ashcroft *and* Gonzales -- this means that Cheney won't even have to leave the Undisclosed Location to make sure.
posted by eriko at 6:45 AM on March 20, 2007

Where is executive privilege defined in the Constitution?
posted by kirkaracha at 6:54 AM on March 20, 2007

Holy Joe panders to a democratic constituency.

So thaaat's what they call fellating Dubya these days?
posted by nofundy at 6:54 AM on March 20, 2007

Where is executive privilege defined in the Constitution?

Right next to the right to privacy and abortion.
posted by caddis at 7:05 AM on March 20, 2007

Difference being: the Constitution is an explicit grant of power to the government. If it's not listed in the Constitution, the government doesn't have the power to do it. In diametric opposition, it says that all other rights are reserved to the states or to the people. You have a right unless the Constitution explicitly takes it away.

Claiming that those two ideas (unlimited executive power versus personal freedom) are Constitutionally equivalent is entirely disingenuous.
posted by Malor at 8:00 AM on March 20, 2007

What Democratic Senate? There's 48 D, 49 R, one I who acts like an Independant, and "I must blow the President" Lieberman.

Whoever gets the nod will also need to get out of committee and get a cloture vote, meaning they are going to need at least eleven democrats to switch over, not just one.
posted by delmoi at 8:04 AM on March 20, 2007

Gosh, you’d think highly motivated, highly trained, well-connected individuals in the justice department would just roll right over when they’re pissed on. Huh. Shocker. I know the first people I want to screw with? Prosecutors. If I want a nice smooth ride, I antagonize the crap out of aggressive go-getters with a enough of a chip on their shoulder about justice their whole lives they ascend to the top levels. Yeah. The guys who aren’t in it for the money with loads of expertise who know everything about how government law - specifically your government law - works? Yeah, those are the guys you want to screw over. (What ya gotta do see, if you want to pick a fight, get a whole bunch of people trained to fight, put-em in a tournament, something that requires all facets of martial expertise. Then the guy who wins? Teach him everything about how you fight, all your strengths and weaknesses, then take his championship away on some B.S. thing where it’s obvious you’ve paid off the tourney judges - then later you just dare him to do something about it in the alley. There’s like, no way he will. He’d be WAY just too scared of you and your power to use his skills against you.)
So, Rove is the “brains,” eh? Nice TCB there TB.

The whole “shadow government” philosophy where party instruments mirror and overtake functions of the government - that’d be one of your big flaws right there. You’ll never get someone working the bureaucracy who expects advancement through the party. No one feels they have to do their job because their asses are covered by the party, meanwhile their subordinates feel they can’t do theirs because anything they do might be countermanded by their superior without any (that they can see) good reason. Meanwhile the turd fallout rains down on everyone.
“The snowplows don’t run today comerade. It might make our political rivals look too efficient, nyet?”
“Shto? are people going to get to the power plant to make heat?”
“Uh.....shut up.”
You can get away with that for a while, hell the Soviets lasted quite a long time riddled with those kinds of parasites. But any quality individuals are going to stand against you. And they’re worth 1,000 of any good party member looking to get upped.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:07 AM on March 20, 2007 [3 favorites]

One of the potential replacements for Abu Gonzales will be George J. Terwilliger III

I'd rather have Robert Underdunk Terwilliger
posted by milarepa at 8:28 AM on March 20, 2007

He could offer no explanation other than that I erroneously assumed that good service guaranteed longevity because other USAs have been asked for their resignation without cause. In my case the service has exemplary in a difficult district in addition to being an active contributor since appointment on 3 of the A.G.’s subcommittees. While I live in hope that this dire prediction is untrue, I am contacting you because I need assistance to remain in federal service with a comparable compensation or, quite frankly, I will lose everything that I have been working toward for the past five years. My chronology will not allow me to recoup from such an unanticipated financial catastrophe. I trust that I can count on you to intervene or provide an alternative. Margaret
From this thread on TPM, (Search the page for "Chiara, Margaret" to find more of her emails)

By the way, if you appreciate TPM's coverage, they're now taking donations.
posted by delmoi at 8:45 AM on March 20, 2007

I know the first people I want to screw with? Prosecutors.

Speaking of which, check out this quote from the TPM Muckraker thread I linked to above
Cummins writing to his fellow fired attorneys about the message he recieved:

...if they feel like any of us intend to continue to offer quotes to the press, or organize behind the scenes congressional pressure, then they would feel forced to somehow pull *their* gloves off and offer public criticisms to defend their actions more fully.... I was tempted to challenge him and say something movie-like such as "are you threatening ME???"...
posted by delmoi at 8:49 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hell when the BBC starts running stories that Fred Thompson may be the salvation of the republican party you know times are tough for the tight-asses.

yeah, it's not their finest hour. but I'm willing to bet that -- unless it turns out there are pictures of him anally raping Winnie the Pooh -- Thompson can easily take out Obama, if they both get nominated (which I don't think will happen anyway). so, I'm willing to stick my neck out, if they both get nominated I'm betting on Fred. and I didn't really like him in Law & Order!
posted by matteo at 9:58 AM on March 20, 2007

You see that? That stuff right there on TPM? THAT's what the internet was made for. That practically deserves its own FPP.

Now if only we had an internet for lawyers only.
posted by OldReliable at 9:58 AM on March 20, 2007

"anally raping winnie the pooh"

that would be unbearable!
posted by bruce at 10:34 AM on March 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Right next to the right to privacy and abortion.

Um, there's no right to abortion in the Constitution, but the right to privacy is pretty damn explicit: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons…shall not be violated…"
posted by oaf at 10:47 AM on March 20, 2007

I was tempted to challenge him and say something movie-like such as "are you threatening ME???"...

If he said it like Cornholio, the awesomeness would be straight off the charts.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:18 AM on March 20, 2007

Just a few short months ago a "cloture vote" was considered the genesis of evil, the damnable FILIBUSTER.
It was all "upper down vote!" and it was heresy to consider anything else.
Now it seems that every discussion of every vote faces threat "cloture."
But then IOKIYAR.
posted by nofundy at 11:22 AM on March 20, 2007

It's actually "up or down" vote, just fyi.
posted by stenseng at 1:29 PM on March 20, 2007

Does anyone know if there is precedent for claiming executive privilege over subpoenas to former employees no longer in the White House like Harriet Miers?
posted by JackFlash at 2:21 PM on March 20, 2007

Isn't it about time for another Guantanamo confession...?
posted by troybob at 2:48 PM on March 20, 2007

Also - this b.s. with Fitzgerald is....well, b.s. And if anyone is worth a thousand to one....and most especially - if anyone is non-partisan but gung-ho law it’s Fitzgerald. He’s kicked everyone’s ass - in terrorist cases (Sheikh Rahman and the bombings in Africa) but he went after (republican governor) George Ryan, he went after (democrat mayor) Richie Daley and (Candadian) Conrad Black and when Blagojevich (democrat governor) was elected he went after the corruption in his administration too. And all pretty damned successfully. And he’s won case after case and brought corruption to light regardless of political affiliation, but he’s ‘mediocre’ because he doesn’t kiss the right ass?
I don’t mean to make him out as St. Patrick, but this is exactly the kind of man you want in government. And the shame of it is I don’t know that the Dems are going to be all fired up to support him either, considering he’s kicked tails on their side of the isle too.
Well, they’ve messed with the prosecutors. The company. The farm. They’re going to have to start really screwing with the joint chiefs of staff next if they want to top this. (Maybe we can get Coulter to call Admiral Michael Mullen a cocksucker because he supports U.S accession to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. U.N. = teh evil)
posted by Smedleyman at 5:22 PM on March 20, 2007

looks like we could get to subpoena-ville this week.

I KNOW this won't happen this way, but wouldn't it be a laugh riot if it was this that brought the house of cards down?
posted by edgeways at 5:39 PM on March 20, 2007

Get with the times, old man.
posted by homunculus at 10:41 PM on March 20, 2007

"Patterico" is the nom-de-blog of an assistant district attorney in Los Angeles. He and some of his readers have spent quite a while reading various memos and emails which were released which talk about the Lam firing.

They found that she was fired because she wasn't prosecuting immigration cases. He has a lot of quotes that show this.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:53 PM on March 20, 2007

Lam testified under oath that Justice Department officials never once talked to her about problems with prosecution of immigration cases. In fact, all of the emails that are quoted by Patterico occur weeks after Lam wrote the Justice Department that she would be investigating CIA boss Foggo and Republican representative Lewis as a continuation of the Cunningham bribery case. The next day Sampson wrote the memo about the "real problem we have right now with Carol Lam" and makes no mention of immigration policy. The implication is that they decided to fire her because of her prosecution of Republicans.

It was not until three weeks later that Sampson wrote "has ODAG ever called Carol Lam and woodshedded her re immigration enforcement? Has anyone?" In other words they were retroactively looking for some excuse to provide cover for a decision to fire her that they had already made. Again, not once had anyone at Justice ever discussed an immigration problem with Lam. The flurry of emails discussing immigration problems happened weeks after they had already decided to sack her.
posted by JackFlash at 12:46 AM on March 21, 2007

She wasn't prosecuting immigration cases

"In December 2006, Mel Kay, of Golden State Fence Company, and Michael McLaughlin, pleaded guilty to felony charges of hiring illegal immigrants and agreed to pay fines of $200,000 and $100,000, respectively. The company, which built more than a mile of the 15-foot-high fence near the Otay Mesa border crossing in San Diego, agreed separately to pay $5 million on a misdemeanor count, one of the largest fines ever imposed on a company for an immigration violation."

Another case from Carol Lam. More here, including a letter from the Justice Department late last year explaining that more than half Lam's staff were working on immigration cases.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 2:59 AM on March 21, 2007

That was beautiful homunculus. From that piece:
Evidently, [the President] wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.

Chances are that the courts will hurl such a claim out, but it will take time.

One gets the impression that [the administration] values its survival more than most people want justice and thus will delay without qualm. But as the clock ticks, the public's faith in [the President] will ebb away for a simple reason: Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold -- the rule of law.
- Tony Snow
posted by caddis at 4:25 AM on March 21, 2007

on the terrible media coverage of this, and exec privilege: ... Sure, one President resisted Congressional requests to have his aides testify under oath for reasons that turned out to be unrelated to the basic notion that advisors should be able to speak freely in the White House. His name was Nixon, and the Congressional investigation in question was the Watergate hearing. That's the only precedent for such a categorical refusal to have aides testify on a matter that could, in fact, involve violations of law. ...
posted by amberglow at 8:23 AM on March 21, 2007

God, it is almost painful to watch this stuff, Iraq is compared to Vietnam, now with the mysterious 18 day gap in emails that was just released there is a legitimate comparison to Watergate.
I mean, seriously, if everything is as innocent as it could be why such stonewalling? The president says the American people just need to know the truth, but won't allow his advisers to speak on the record. It's like watching the three stooges, Bush, Cheney and Rove. [announcers voice]"What madcap adventure will they take part in next?"
posted by edgeways at 8:56 AM on March 21, 2007

I'm already seeing it: Karl Rove testifying (finally): "I take the 5th"... "I'm not authorized to speak about this" ... "Upon advice of counsel, I may not speak of this matter" ... "That would fall under the area of private conversations between myself and the president" ...
posted by amberglow at 9:17 AM on March 21, 2007

In other words they were retroactively looking for some excuse to provide cover for a decision to fire her that they had already made.

This is the most hilarious part of the document dump, as far as I'm concerned. We see them brainstorming to try to come up with some kind of reason for why they've fired the USAs.

And now the White House will let its people testify, but only in secret and only if they don't have to promise to tell the truth. Stupid, stupid move. It makes them look guilty as sin. If they were going to stonewall, they should have just claimed executive privilege and clammed up. Now, anyone with half a functioning brain can see they're hiding something.
posted by EarBucket at 10:10 AM on March 21, 2007

*sigh* preliminarily speaking it looks like it might head to the courts, which means the whole thing could drag out longer then the administration is in office.
posted by edgeways at 10:40 AM on March 21, 2007

And now the White House will let its people testify, but only in secret and only if they don't have to promise to tell the truth. Stupid, stupid move. It makes them look guilty as sin. If they were going to stonewall, they should have just claimed executive privilege and clammed up. Now, anyone with half a functioning brain can see they're hiding something.
posted by EarBucket at 12:10 PM on March 21 [+]

This has been blowing my mind... I can't imagine how anyone thought this off-the-books testimony would ever be a good idea or go over well. Executive-privilege stonewalling would've at least looked better and required less effort.
posted by COBRA! at 11:25 AM on March 21, 2007

I can't imagine how anyone thought this off-the-books testimony would ever be a good idea or go over well.

I would suspect that it is political positioning for the coming shit storm, rather than an honest proposal. Especially, if they are as guilty as it seems.
posted by R. Mutt at 3:37 PM on March 21, 2007

Also, this is about more than just the attorneys--think of all the scandals that have come out, and all the others yet to come--Plame, Iraq altogether, Cheney's secret energy meetings pre-9/11 (Condi's too), etc...

There's so much shit they are terrified about having to testify about--mountains of it.
posted by amberglow at 3:47 PM on March 21, 2007

This Supreme Court Case might be becoming relevant very soon: JURNEY v. MACCRACKEN, 294 U.S. 125 (1935)
... The petition alleges that McCracken was, on February 12, 1934, arrested, and is held, under a warrant issued on February 9, 1934, after MacCracken had respectfully declined to appear before the bar of the Senate in response to a citation served upon him pursuant to Resolution 172, adopted by the Senate on February 5, 1934. The resolution provides: [294 U.S. 125, 144] 'Resolved, That the President of the Senate issue a citation directing William P. MacCracken, Jr., L. H. Brittin, Gilbert Givven, and Harris M. Hanshue to show cause why they should not be punished for contempt of the Senate, on account of the destruction and removal of certain papers, files, and memorandums from the files of William P. MacCracken, Jr., after a subpoena had been served upon william P. MacCracken, Jr., as shown by the report of the Special Senate Committee Investigating Ocean and Air Mail Contracts.' ...
posted by amberglow at 4:34 PM on March 21, 2007

This is incredible too: ... the standoff between the Executive Branch and Congress revolves around Bush’s right to “privileged communications with close staff members.” But he also stated that “the president has no recollection” of conversations about the attorney firings being raised with him. That means, as CNN’s Ed Henry noted, that the White House is now claiming executive privilege over conversations that never existed. ...
posted by amberglow at 4:41 PM on March 21, 2007

Good legal analysis of whether crimes were committed and the extent of executive privilege.
posted by caddis at 11:02 AM on March 22, 2007

US Dept. of State on Congressional Oversight--...Congressional oversight prevents waste and fraud; protects civil liberties and individual rights; ensures executive compliance with the law; gathers information for making laws and educating the public; and evaluates executive performance. It applies to cabinet departments, executive agencies, regulatory commissions, and the presidency. ... The oversight power of Congress has helped to force officials out of office, change policies, and provide new statutory controls over the executive. ... Time and again, the oversight power of Congress has proven to be an essential check in monitoring the presidency and controlling public policy.
posted by amberglow at 1:37 AM on March 23, 2007

from caddis's excellent link:'s not uncommon for such close aides to testify about matters in the Executive Office of the President -- it happened frequently in the Clinton Administration, for instance. In this case, if any wrongdoing occurred, it almost certainly occurred in the White House itself, which is where any incriminating evidence would be. Thus, if Congress is entitled to actually learn about the reasons for the U.S. Attorneys' dismissals, and possible pressure brought to bear on their prosecutorial practices, then it will necessarily need to receive information about what transpired in the White House. (After all, it was the President who dismissed the officers.) ...
Congress also has the power to investigate the workings of the Executive branch simply to determine whether legislative amendments are necessary in order prevent or deter undesirable government practices, and perhaps even for the basic function of facilitating "the American people's ability to reconstruct and come to terms with their history," ...
Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, et al., were serving as agents of the President. And the decision whether to prosecute a federal case under current law is ultimately the responsibility of the President himself. Can the President (or those acting on his behalf) "corruptly" influence decisions over which he himself has the ultimate authority? That seems like an odd notion (and would certainly be a novel application of the corrupt influence statutes), but I don't know enough about these criminal statutes to say for certain. (I would certainly welcome knowledgeable comments about these statutes as applied to this unusual situation.)
In any event, even if the corrupt-influence statutes are inapposite here, pressuring the U.S. Attorneys to make prosecution decisions based on the partisan affiliation of the possible defendants would still be unlawful, because it would violate the President's constitutional obligation to take care that the laws are faithfully executed. Indeed, the very act of removing the U.S. Attorneys might itself constitute a "take care" violation if they were fired so as to prevent prosecution of Republicans, or to smooth the way for unwarranted prosecutions of Democrats. Just because the President can remove U.S. Attorneys at will does not mean that any ground for removal is permissible. There are constitutional limits. ...

posted by amberglow at 1:44 AM on March 23, 2007

Alberto Gonzales Has a Thing For Kids--WARNING--very sad/disturbing picture--
the children of iraq, new orleans and lebanon celebrate their new champion, their new advocate, their new savior, the attorney general of the united states!
...the dead say goodbye to your love

the wounded crave your love

the violated grasp at your love ...

posted by amberglow at 2:56 AM on March 23, 2007

oops--link here--very disturbing pic
posted by amberglow at 2:57 AM on March 23, 2007

A cloud of suspicion over the rest of Justice’s decisions (mentions Menendez in NJ, NH phone jamming, Abramoff in Guam, lots of PA stuff, and the CO thing where the WH threw people out of a Bush event)
posted by amberglow at 7:31 AM on March 23, 2007

I remember the Menendez crap coming right before the election. Even then it seemed like a political smear.
posted by R. Mutt at 10:47 AM on March 23, 2007

yup, and it was tried almost everywhere--that's why some of these Attys were fired--they wouldn't follow the program and do it in their states. Some of the fired ones even did investigate, but found nothing at all. It must have infuriated Rove and Co.

Why don't we just ask the NSA for all the email on the Bush USA firings?
posted by amberglow at 2:39 PM on March 23, 2007

Justice's new U.S. attorneys have partisan records--... Since 2005, McClatchy Newspapers has found, Bush has appointed at least three U.S. attorneys who had worked in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division when it was rolling back long-standing voting rights policies aimed at protecting predominantly poor, minority voters.
Another newly installed U.S. attorney, Tim Griffin in Little Rock, Ark., was accused of participating in efforts to suppress Democratic votes in Florida during the 2004 presidential election while he was research director for the Republican National Committee. ...

posted by amberglow at 3:21 PM on March 23, 2007

Former Gonzales Aide to Testify Before Senate Panel. D. Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to the attorney general, has agreed to testify voluntarily next Thursday.
posted by R. Mutt at 5:30 PM on March 23, 2007

I wonder if Sampson will lie under oath to protect Gonzales and Rove and Bush?
posted by amberglow at 6:26 PM on March 23, 2007

Damn. I had Gonzales quitting today in the office pool. I'm guessing with this latest revelation it won't be long now, though.
posted by EarBucket at 6:50 PM on March 23, 2007

It'll be Monday i bet--they don't want it to be the topic for the Sunday shows.
posted by amberglow at 7:13 PM on March 23, 2007

and i heard that Sen. Feinstein has at least one email (or more than one?) that the Justice Dept. did not release to Congress in that big doc dump.
posted by amberglow at 7:15 PM on March 23, 2007

It'll be Monday i bet--they don't want it to be the topic for the Sunday shows.

Unfortunately, it's probably next Friday at the earliest. That is pretty much established as the lowest ebb in the news cycle. I can't wait to see him go. I thought he was just a toady when nominated and my worst fears turn out to have been mild. Remember all that crap he spouted about how he would no longer be the president's lawyer but the people's lawyer during the confirmation hearings. What a lying sob. Off with his head. The only worse lawyer out of Bushco would have been John Yoo who actually wrote the original terror memo. He is one amoral and scary dude. Were likely to see more of him too because he is young and smart. Look for him to be on a conservative short list for SC appointment someday. Hopefully, he has hired an illegal alien as a housekeeper.
posted by caddis at 7:28 PM on March 23, 2007

The echo chamber gets pretty tiny when these threads get old, but this one remains very intersting to me. Thanks for all the updates folks.
posted by caddis at 7:29 PM on March 23, 2007

I wonder who will replace him? It has to be someone Congress will approve, so i'm thinking some ex-Congressman?

digby on Rove: ...I don't know why people can't wrap their minds around the fact that one of Karl Rove's specialties is stealing elections, but there are piles and piles of evidence that it is. (You'd think 2000 would have been enough to seal his reputation...)
I do not make this argument to suggest that Rove wasn't trying to employ the Justice Department for voter suppression efforts. That's been going on for decades. But I believe that Rove was also taking it to the next level, preparing to use the electoral mistrust caused by the stolen election in 2000 and the shennanigans in Ohio in 2004 to gin up a national GOP campaign to complain of Democratic voter fraud --- and bring into question all close elections in which Democrats prevailed. ...

posted by amberglow at 7:48 PM on March 23, 2007

Yikes. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid: Gonzales will be gone within a month, "one way or the other."
posted by EarBucket at 8:03 PM on March 23, 2007

more detail from NYT: Gonzales Met With Advisers on Ouster Plan--...The meeting took place as Mr. Gonzales’s aides awaited final White House approval of a detailed dismissal plan that had been drafted by D. Kyle Sampson, Mr. Gonzales’s chief of staff. His plan was sent to the White House on Nov. 15, according to previously released e-mail. Harriet E. Miers, the White House counsel at the time, approved Mr. Sampson’s proposal on Dec. 4, and the dismissals were carried out three days later. ...

So the White House already had the plan by 11/15 (when the document gap started--this is apparently part of those "misplaced" docs or something) and Gonzales had a staff meeting on it 2 weeks later. Shouldn't Justice have also had meetings before it went to the WH, or does this mean the whole thing originated in the WH, as many of us think? How many other meetings don't we know about, and who was there?
posted by amberglow at 9:44 PM on March 23, 2007

and this, from there: “He tasked his chief of staff to carry this plan forward,” Ms. Scolinos said. “He did not participate in the selection of the U.S. attorneys to be fired. He did sign off on the final list.”
Ms. Scolinos said the meeting was in Mr. Gonzales’s conference room at the Justice Department. The meeting focused on “rollout” of the dismissals, she said, and from available records was not a meeting in which a final target list was determined.

Doesn't that also mean the WH planned it all? And selected the attorneys to be fired? And how could they rollout the dismissals if a final target list wasn't decided? Isn't that bs?
posted by amberglow at 9:47 PM on March 23, 2007

From: Goodling, Monica
Sent: Friday, August 18,2006 12:09 PM
To: Sampson. Kyle
Subject: Re: Conf Call, re: Tim Griffin

Fyi - to catch you up on the latest here (unless something else has happened this week), scott and I spoke last thurs or fri and this is what’s going on… We have a senator prob, so while wh is intent on nominating, scott thinks we may have a confirmation issue. Also, WH has a personnel issue as tim returns to the states this week and is still on WH payroll. The possible solution I suggested to scott was that we (DOJ) pick him up as a political, examine the BI completed in May pursuant to his WH post, and then install him as an interim. That resolves both the WH personnel issue and gets him into the office he and the W want him in. I asked Elston to feel out the DAG on bringing Tim into one of the vacant ADAG spots there, just for a short time until we install him in Arkansas. The DAG wanted to look at his resume, and I sent it him before I left. Was going to run this plan by you once I knew the DAG was onboard. If not, I suppose we can look at CRIM, but knowing Tim, my guess is he’d prefer something else given that he was in CRIM in 2001. (Tim knows nothing about my idea for a solution at this point - wanted your signoff, and a home for him, before I called him.)

posted by amberglow at 12:01 PM on March 24, 2007

Rove can't be indicted under the WH Offer (if the WH's offer is taken up for no oath or transcript or public session, etc...)--...We need to know what actual law makes "lying to congress" a crime. The relevant statute is U.S. Code : Title 18 : Section 1001, in particular section (c), which says:
(c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the
legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to -
(1) administrative matters, (...blah blah...)
(2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.

The bolded part in section (c)(2) is the key here. The lies have to be told in a formal setting consistent with the rules. Which rules? The internal rules for the House and Senate committees Judiciary. Otherwise this law just doesn't apply. ...

posted by amberglow at 12:18 PM on March 24, 2007

...One central aspect of the U.S. attorneys firing is that the Justice Department (via a staffer for then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA)) was able to slip in a provision to the Patriot Act Reauthorization bill that made it possible for the administration to appoint interim U.S. attorneys for an indefinite period without Senate confirmation. That way, the administration could install who they wanted for the rest of Bush's term -- like, say, Karl Rove's former aide.
Justice Official William Moschella told McClatchy ten days ago that he'd sought the change "without the knowledge or coordination of his superiors at the Justice Department or anyone at the White House." Just a rogue operator.
But look at what's in the emails: ...

I still don't know how Specter dares to sit on the committee investigating this--it was his office that slipped that Patriot Act change in. He should be investigated and testifying himself.
posted by amberglow at 1:38 PM on March 24, 2007

Justice Department tugged to the right--Not long after President Bush was first sworn in, White House political guru Karl Rove and his lieutenants met with officials of nearly every Cabinet agency to brief top officials on the latest polling data and issues that could influence voters and key constituencies. ...
"The U.S. attorneys' firing confirmed my view that at the highest levels of DOJ it was decided that politics would play a role in how decisions were made," said Mark Posner, a former civil rights division attorney who contributed to a book-length report released by a civil rights group in Washington last week called "The Erosion of Rights: Declining Civil Rights Enforcement Under the Bush Administration."
The Civil Rights Division veterans focused their criticism on major voting case decisions over the last six years that they say have generally benefited the GOP.
The most recent case concerned a 2005 Georgia law that required voters to provide photo identification. Staff attorneys raised concerns about the law after the Georgia secretary of state supplied data showing that tens of thousands of voters might not have driver's licenses or other prescribed forms of identification. They said the plan could effectively disenfranchise large numbers of black voters.
The staff objections were ignored, department veterans said, and the Georgia ID rule was approved by the Justice Department 24 hours after the staff report was filed.
Rich and other former department staff have also charged that redistricting cases reviewed by the division have consistently benefited the GOP. These cases were particularly sensitive because redistricting has been a high priority for Rove and earlier GOP strategists. ...

posted by amberglow at 9:07 AM on March 26, 2007

A glimpse of the supra-scandal?
The Washington Post's front page story today is about a meeting in January between the head of the General Services Administration, Lurita Doan, top agency officials, and Scott Jennings, Karl Rove's deputy. The topic: how the agency could help "our candidates."
The GSA is the government's landlord and heads up nearly $60 billion per year in government contracts. The meeting was about how to turn that buying power to Republican advantage. ...

posted by amberglow at 9:58 AM on March 26, 2007

oho! Monica Goodling, a Justice Department official involved in the firings of federal prosecutors, will refuse to answer questions at upcoming Senate hearings, citing Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, her lawyer said Monday.

"The potential for legal jeopardy for Ms. Goodling from even her most truthful and accurate testimony under these circumstances is very real," said the lawyer, John Dowd.

Goodling, who is Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' senior counsel and White House liaison, took a leave of absence this month. ...

That statement is hysterical--"from even her most truthful and accurate testimony" ??? As opposed to what?
posted by amberglow at 1:22 PM on March 26, 2007

That crackling sound you hear is a smoldering scandal bursting into open flame. This sounds like Goodling's making a play for immunity--she just might want to be the first rat off the ship.
posted by EarBucket at 2:57 PM on March 26, 2007

she was key staff, being WH Liaison and everything, no?
posted by amberglow at 3:58 PM on March 26, 2007

...In light of how quickly and powerfully evidence of wrongdoing and deceit is spewing forth with minimal amounts of prodding, it is just inconceivable that our Beltway stars — including alleged journalists — would be more worried about the unpleasantness and disruption that comes from uncovering corruption and illegality than they are about the corruption and illegality itself. But that is exactly the message they are conveying.
And none of that should be surprising, even though it is so destructive. After all, our government would not have been able to spend the last six years blocking all forms of accountability and checks if not for the support of our national media. ...

posted by amberglow at 4:06 PM on March 26, 2007

and from there: look who's back from his Klan meeting to throw his 2cents in-- ... Mr. Lott also defended Mr. Bush’s decision to invoke executive privilege in refusing to provide his aides for sworn testimony before Congress, saying “he’d be making a huge mistake” if he decided otherwise.
Later Sunday, the Democratic National Committee provided a list of quotations from Mr. Lott criticizing former President Bill Clinton for invoking executive privilege during the investigation into his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, including one in 1998 in which Mr. Lott called it improper and said, “It looks like they are hiding something.” ...

posted by amberglow at 6:44 PM on March 26, 2007

Last night I noted that Monica Goodling, Alberto Gonzales' senior counsel and white house liason graduated from Pat Robertson's Regent Unicersity law school. Apparently, she did her undergraduate work at someplace known as Messiah University, so it's pretty clear that this 33 year old is a dyed in the wool social conservative who was likely hired for that reason. Apparently, the Bush Emerald City hiring practices were more systemic than we thought: there are more than 150 graduates of Regent University serving in the Bush Administration

posted by amberglow at 3:22 PM on March 27, 2007

Of course. That is why they didn't speak out at first. Knowing this was coming, it was quite courageous of them to finally speak out.
posted by caddis at 12:06 PM on March 28, 2007

I wonder if they thought that the attorneys would just shut up after being professionally maligned like that? How clueless of them. Even this swiftboating is not at all timely--the attorneys have been talking for weeks now.
posted by amberglow at 1:37 PM on March 28, 2007

I didn't know Iglesias was supposed to be one of them not fired: ... At issue is whether Domenici called Gonzales to try to get David Iglesias, the U.S. attorney in his home state, removed because of his perceived slowness in pursuing a corruption case of alleged kickbacks in public construction projects involving some prominent Democrats. Iglesias has said that in addition to Domenici, Republican Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico called him twice before the November elections to get an update on the case and that Domenici even called him once at home. "I felt leaned on," Iglesias testified at a Senate hearing this month. "I felt pressured to get these matters moving." Domenici has apologized for the calls. Both he and Wilson have denied any intent to pressure Iglesias. Domenici issued a statement that "at no time in that conversation or any other conversation" with Iglesias "did I ever tell him what course of action I thought he should take on any legal matter." Domenici added that he had "never pressured" Iglesias, "nor threatened him in any way." In fact, prior to Domenici's complaints to Gonzales, Rove, and their aides, Sampson had recommended keeping Iglesias on as U.S. attorney last March. ...
posted by amberglow at 2:56 PM on March 28, 2007

New document dump today too.
posted by amberglow at 4:29 PM on March 28, 2007

Eight federal prosecutors were fired last year because they did not sufficiently support President Bush's priorities, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' former chief of staff says in remarks prepared for delivery to Congress on Thursday. ...

those would be the importance of trumping up voter fraud charges against Democrats in tight races? or lying and cheating and using the justice system as a GOP adjunct? ...
posted by amberglow at 10:21 PM on March 28, 2007

All About Rove: E-Mail Shows Rove’s Role in Fate of Prosecutors-- Almost every Wednesday afternoon, advisers to President Bush gather to strategize about putting his stamp on the federal courts and the United States attorneys’ offices.

The group meets in the Roosevelt Room and includes aides to the White House counsel, the chief of staff, the attorney general and Karl Rove, who also sometimes attends himself. Each of them signs off on every nomination. ...

posted by amberglow at 10:37 AM on March 29, 2007

The GOP just shut down the Sampson testimony! unbelievable--they objected, and apparently they're allowed?!?
posted by amberglow at 11:17 AM on March 29, 2007

CSPAN says Senate Rules preclude Senate committees from meeting while the Senate is in session?
posted by amberglow at 11:21 AM on March 29, 2007

They're back on--they withdrew their objection (the testimony had been about Rove just previously)
posted by amberglow at 11:51 AM on March 29, 2007

And today: ...White House political director Sara Taylor is out the door at the White House, according to Washington Wire. Taylor came up a number of times yesterday during the Kyle Sampson hearing as having worked closely with Sampson (along with another Karl Rove aide Scott Jennings) to install Rove's former aide Tim Griffin as the U.S. Attorney in eastern Arkansas. ...
posted by amberglow at 3:49 PM on March 30, 2007

ooo--- Joseph D. Rich was chief of the voting section in the Justice Department's civil right division from 1999 to 2005. Today he penned an Op-Ed in The Los Angeles Times, and he didnt' mince words:
Over the last six years, this Justice Department has ignored the advice of its staff and skewed aspects of law enforcement in ways that clearly were intended to influence the outcome of elections. ...

posted by amberglow at 3:51 PM on March 30, 2007

... They've uncovered Rove's frustrated desire for voter fraud convictions as one of the driving forces behind the firings - now they need to take that a step further and look into all the Republican vote-suppression efforts that the voter fraud myth has enabled. They need to ask why voter roll purges, voter IDs, and draconian restrictions on voter registration are necessary if voter fraud doesn't exist. And they need to ask whether the Republicans have deliberately fabricated evidence of voter fraud to support those policies.

I'm pretty sure the Judiciary Committee has oversight of the election process - think Conyers would like to take a swing at this?

posted by amberglow at 7:53 PM on March 30, 2007

um, isn't it illegal to use your elected office or your appointed office to campaign for political elections? Aren't some of these egregious actions actually not just unpatriotic, and undemocratic, but actually illegal? I am no expert in election law, but I thought that it was illegal to use your government position to campaign or sway elections.
posted by caddis at 8:42 PM on March 30, 2007

Prosecutor Posts Go To Bush Insiders
Less Preference Shown for Locals, Senators' Choices
--... No other administration in contemporary times has had such a clear pattern of filling chief prosecutors' jobs with its own staff members, said experts on U.S. attorney's offices. Those experts said the emphasis in appointments traditionally has been on local roots and deference to home-state senators, whose support has been crucial to win confirmation of the nominees. ...
posted by amberglow at 11:57 AM on April 1, 2007

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