Congress Subpoenas Miers and Former Bush Aide
WASHINGTON, June 13 — Two former White House officials were subpoenaed today as Congressional Democrats intensified pressure on the Bush administration over the dismissals of eight United States attorneys.From the House Judiciary Committee (PDF):
House and Senate Investigations Revealed Significant White House Involvement In US Attorney Firings:
Key White House political advisors Karl Rove and then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales were involved from the beginning in plans to remove U.S. Attorneys. According to documents obtained from the Department of Justice and Mr. Sampson’s testimony, Mr. Sampson discussed the plan with then-White House Counsel Gonzales not long after President Bush’s re-election in late 2004. A January 9, 2005 e-mail released by the Department shows that Karl Rove initiated inquires as to “how we planned to proceed regarding U.S. Attorneys, whether we were going to allow all to stay, request resignations from all and accept only some of them, or selectively replace them, etc.” In his response to queries from David Leitch, a White House official, Mr. Sampson expressly deferred to the political judgment of Mr. Rove as to whether to proceed with plans for the replacement of U.S. Attorneys, writing,“[I]f Karl thinks there would be political will to do it, then so do I.”David Stout:
Mr. Sampson, who has testified that he “aggregated” the list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired, was in frequent contact with White House officials about multiple versions of proposed lists of possible U.S. Attorneys for dismissal and potential replacements over the course of nearly two years, sending draft lists for review in March 2005, January 2006, April 2006, and several drafts in September 2006 through the firings on December 7, 2006.
The Senate and House judiciary committees ordered Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, and Sara M. Taylor [photo], a former deputy assistant to President Bush and the White House director of political affairs, to appear before their panels.House Judiciary Committee:
According to documents and testimony, Sara Taylor, the head of the White House political operation and deputy of Karl Rove, and Scott Jennings, another aide to Mr. Rove, were involved in the discussions and planning that led to the removal of Bud Cummins and bypassing the Senate confirmation process to install Tim Griffin, another former aide to Mr. Rove, as U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Arkansas. They were part of a group that discussed using the Attorney General’s expanded authority under the Patriot Act Reauthorization to avoid the opposition of the Arkansas Senators by appointing Mr. Griffin as interim indefinitely. In one e-mail, Mr. Sampson described Mr. Griffin’s appointment as “important to Harriet, Karl, etc.” After the firing, writing from her RNC email account, Ms. Taylor writes that “Bud is lazy – which is why we got rid of him in the first place.”David Stout:
Mr. Sampson testified that Ms. Taylor was upset when the Attorney General finally “rejected” this use of the interim authority -- a month after telling Senator Pryor he was committed to finding a Senate-confirmed U.S. Attorney.
Ms. Taylor was ordered to appear before the Senate committee on July 11. Ms. Miers, who was briefly a nominee for Supreme Court justice, was told to appear before the House panel the following day.House Judiciary Committee:
John McKay, former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington, testified that when he met with Ms. Miers and her deputy William Kelley in August 2006 to interview for a federal judgeship, he was asked to explain “criticism that I mishandled the 2004 governor's election,” in which Republicans were upset with him for not intervening in that closely contested election.David Stout:
The committees had already voted to authorize such subpoenas, so it was not surprising that they decided today to go ahead and issue them. Still, the action stepped up the political confrontation over the dismissals, and over the general performance of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and the state of the Justice Department.House Judiciary Committee:
So far, the White House has said it will not make any current or former officials available to testify before the panels on the matter except in private interviews, with no transcripts kept. The lawmakers have disdained that arrangement as unacceptable.
“By refusing to cooperate with Congressional committees, the White House continues its pattern of confrontation over cooperation, and those who suffer most in this case are the public and the hard-working people at the Department of Justice,” Senator Patrick J. Leahy of Vermont, chairman of the Senate committee, said in a statement today.
Representative John D. Conyers of Michigan, the chairman of the House committee, said the subpoenas were “a demand on behalf of the American people.”
Since the firings of these U.S. Attorneys for political reasons became public, there has been an effort to minimize, and in some instances, cover up, the role of White House officials. According to documents and the testimony of Mr. Sampson, the Attorney General was upset after the February 6, 2007, testimony of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty because Mr. McNulty’s testimony put the White House involvement in the firings into the public domain. Former Justice Department White House Liaison Monica Goodling recently told the House Judiciary Committee that she was told not to attend a briefing by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty on the firings to the Senate Judiciary Committee in February, 2007, because of the concern that her presence might prompt Senators to ask questions about White House involvement.David Stout:
The Administration’s February 23, 2007, response to a letter from Senators Reid, Schumer, Durbin and Murray regarding the firings stated, “I am not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the AG’s decision to appoint Griffin.” Earlier e-mails indicate that the appointment of Mr. Griffin, another former deputy to Mr. Rove, was important to Mr. Rove. The White House, Associate White House Counsel Chris Oprison, signed off on this letter. Before Griffin was installed, Mr. Oprison, who signed off on the letter, had written that the Griffin issue was “front/center on [his] radar screen” and that he had “had several conversations with [Rove aide] Scott Jennings” about “the controversy.” Many parts of this letter have since been retracted by the Department.
“The breadcrumbs in this investigation have always led to 1600 Pennsylvania,” Mr. Conyers said, referring to the White House by its street address. “This investigation will not end until the White House complies with the demands of this subpoena in a timely and reasonable manner, so that we may get to the bottom of this.”House Judiciary Committee:
According to the testimony of Department officials, Mr. Rove and other White House officials attended a meeting at the White House on March 5, 2007 -- the day before Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General William Moschella testified before the House Judiciary Committee -- to “go over the admin position on all aspects of the US attorney issue.” Rove is reported to have spoken at this meeting and directed the Department to provide reasons to explain the firings in the next day’s testimony.David Stout:
The White House reacted quickly today to the subpoenas, arguing that the committees could easily obtain all the facts they need through interviews and relevant documents, but that the Democratic chairmen “are more interested in drama than facts,” as Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman, put it in an exchange with reporters.Quite a publicity stunt, no? There's nothing at stake -- unless you count the future of the world's most belligerent former democracy.
Move along, folks, there's nothing to see here ... just another publicity stunt by the Democrats; you know how those Democrats are!!