May 10, 2007

Did The White House Withhold More Information On DoJ Firings?

Murray Waas has another scoop today on the continuing saga of Alberto Gonzales, eight federal prosecutors, and a carnival of incompetence. However, it looks like this news is at least two months old, and a secondary revelation of other withheld documents involves Gonzales and Justice rather than the White House:

The Bush administration has withheld a series of e-mails from Congress showing that senior White House and Justice Department officials worked together to conceal the role of Karl Rove in installing Timothy Griffin, a protégé of Rove's, as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

The withheld records show that D. Kyle Sampson, who was then-chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, consulted with White House officials in drafting two letters to Congress that appear to have misrepresented the circumstances of Griffin's appointment as U.S. attorney and of Rove's role in supporting Griffin.

In one of the letters that Sampson drafted, dated February 23, 2007, the Justice Department told four Senate Democrats it was not aware of any role played by senior White House adviser Rove in attempting to name Griffin to the U.S. attorney post. A month later, the Justice Department apologized in writing to the Senate Democrats for the earlier letter, saying it had been inaccurate in denying that Rove had played a role.

In other words, during a period when Justice couldn't get its act together despite all of the preparation they made for the terminations, they misrepresented the role of Karl Rove in getting Griffin his job. One month later -- that would be in March -- Justice reversed itself and acknowledged Rove's efforts in getting Griffin an appointment as the US Attorney in Arkansas.

Well, we already knew that. It's been the one firing that the White House and Justice have acknowledged was done to make room for a staffer of Rove. Tim Griffin had the qualifications for the job, even if they cleared the position in a rather stupid and messy manner. Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is pretty old news. The changing story on this and other details of the controversy is why some of us think that Gonzales should have resigned back in March.

Waas buries the lede somewhat in his report, however, because he does report on another interesting aspect of the story. We know that some documents have not been provided to Congress on the basis of executive privilege, but today we find out that Justice is blocking the documents and not the White House:

The senior official said that Gonzales, in preparing for testimony before Congress, has personally reviewed the withheld records and has a responsibility to make public any information he has about efforts by his former chief of staff, other department aides, and White House officials to conceal Rove's role.

"If [Gonzales] didn't know everything that was going on when it went down, that is one thing," this official said. "But he knows and understands chapter and verse. If there was an effort within Justice and the White House to mislead Congress, it is his duty to disclose that to Congress. As the country's chief law enforcement official, he has a higher duty to disclose than to protect himself or the administration."

White House spokesman Tony Fratto denied that the White House was withholding records in the Justice Department's possession, and he said that Gonzales could make many of them public at any time. "The White House is neither guiding nor directing the Justice Department's decisions on privileged documents," Fratto said. "They make those decisions on their own."

Again, though, this is old news to a large extent. We know that Justice and Congress have a dispute on what Gonzales should release. We already know that Justice initially misrepresented Rove's involvement in the process that put Griffin in Arkansas. We already have an acknowledgement that Justice misrepresented Rove's role.

What we still do not have is any indication that Rove acted illegally. Again, these are political appointments, and the White House has the authority to dismiss appointees, even when it's a stupid thing to do. Rove works for the President and can make all the suggestions he wants, and the President can appoint people based on his recommendations. In this case, it was bad for the notion of political independence for US Attorneys, and that's an important point in evaluating the performance of Gonzales and the administration -- but it's not illegal.

This is old news dressed up for fresh headlines. It doesn't move the story one whit. It underscores why Gonzales should hit the road, but only by repeating his fumbles and obfuscations and those of his staff.


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Comments (13)

Posted by RBMN [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 10, 2007 4:58 PM

This is the equivalent of an aide to Vince McMahon...covering up...that he and his staff "orchestrated the outcome" of one of their WWF wrestling matches. Oh the scandal. The only scandal was that they were TOO DUMB to understand that ALL the matches are fixed, and everybody knows that, and there was nothing to cover up in the first place. If dumb is illegal.....lock 'em up. Otherwise no.

Posted by starfleet_dude [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 10, 2007 6:05 PM

James Sensenbrenner seems unable to grasp the concept of how it's improper to pressure the U.S. Department of Justice to pursue political cases:

Sensenbrenner: Hurry Up and Indict Dem. Politician
Apparently deaf to the improper tone of the request in the context of a hearing on the firings of the U.S. attorneys, Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) encouraged Alberto Gonzales to hurry up and indict Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA). The Jefferson case has dragged on for nearly two years and is awaiting the decision of an appeals court on the FBI's seizure of evidence from Jefferson's congressional office.
"I hope that you will tell your prosecutors to wrap this thing up," said Sensenbrenner.

What's ironic is that Sensenbrenner seemed to want to highlight Gonzales' incompetence, but instead emphasized the very thing that lies at the heart of this matter.

Posted by Woody [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 10, 2007 6:20 PM

This is all a "So What!"

I'd like to think I could rely on my staff for recomendations, too. In fact, I'd probably fire someone for NOT helping out!


Posted by hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 10, 2007 6:20 PM

I doubt it if the context being sold on this has any bearing on anything at all.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 10, 2007 7:01 PM

If this were a championship prize fight, the ref would have called it by now. Bush isn't able to return a punch. He's dazed. And, his quest for new people, to fill in for the crap he has on staff, has also turned south.

Who wants to be Gonzales' replacement?

Yesterday, Drudge had up a headline that said Bush is having trouble recruiting people to fill top spots in his administration that are now vacant.

Whatever energy was squeezed out of Gonzales, by this point. It's a Waas' scoop only because it's a slow news day.

Of course, you could ask, "who won the round." But then, if you were at Drudge, yestefday; you saw a group of GOP House members went to the president. And, to his face. Were BLUNT.

Will "blunt" make a difference?

This Bush managed to run every single company under his management, into the ground. Except for the baseball team. Where he took a $500,000 loan (on insider trading of his Harkin stock.) And, wallah. Turned that into a $15-million-dollar profit.

When things get tough, THERE ARE NO EASY ANSWERS.

I guess we could do a pool and see who is the first to go? Gonzales, here? Or Olmert, in Israel?

Hanging on by political threads sometimes grows respect for the "holdee." But since Nixon's days, and his departure in infamy; it does leave ya wondering WHY so many men are attracted to the "power" of holding office.

I don't care what Gonzales does, now. He didn't serve anyone well. All he did was act like a potted plant that attended meetings.

On Broadway, when people attend a "stinker." You see them departing the audience one-by-one. Some people? Hate to get up, because they paid for their seat. Others? Hate to be subjected to the terrible show.

Why is Bush such a putz?

He is one.

And, he got to be president because he dad has connections. As to his friends, which I am sure Gonzales, is. He feels like the master of the universe.

Well, that's deceptive.

Posted by twinks abrr | May 10, 2007 7:16 PM

They crossed the marketplace and went up beneath the grand >gay having sex twinks*
at the same time not painless excitement dot They had been conversing

Posted by Keemo [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 10, 2007 9:38 PM

Push to oust Gonzales loses momentum

By Andrew Ward in Washington

Published: May 10 2007 21:45 | Last updated: May 10 2007 21:45

Republican members of Congress on Thursday leapt to the defence of Alberto Gonzales, the embattled US attorney-general, as Democratic efforts to oust him appeared to lose momentum.

Mr Gonzales faced a fresh barrage of question from Democrats over the controversial firing of several US attorneys when he appeared before the House judiciary committee.

But Republican committee members largely supported Mr Gonzales and called for an end to the investigation, easing pressure on one of President George W. Bush’s closest political allies.

Democrats have sought to prove that the firings of at least eight US attorneys last year were politically motivated, citing an e-mail by a Gonzales aide that judged federal prosecutors according to whether they were “loyal Bushies”.

“The list of accusations has mushroomed, but the evidence has not,” said Lamar Smith, the senior Republican committee member. “If there are no fish in this lake, we should reel in our lines of questions, dock our empty boat and turn to more pressing issues.”

Posted by Rose [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 10, 2007 9:47 PM

I was never a fan of Gonzales to begin with, and as far as I am concerned, he is one more example of why SETTLING for LESS than the best, - especially, just because someone is the LESSER OF TWO EVILS - is not an acceptable practice.

Having said that, putting it in a balance, now, Gonzales for the next 1 1/2 years in office in one of the dishes on the scales, and the opportunity for a confirmation hearing on a new guy handed to the DIM-controlled Congress, 1 1/2 yrs before the next election in the other dish of the scales...

I have to say it is best if we stick with the incompetent we know, than to gamble on what the DIM Congress would give us.

We already KNOW that Bush wouldn't fight for a Bork, or a John Bolton, etc, hard enough to guarantee he would get them, now.

We best direct our energies to flat out survival, now, including for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And it doesn't appear that he broke any laws in this situation - it doesn't help the GOP to allow the DIMS to make this out to be a bigger deal than Janet Reno firing all the AG's 30 minutes into her watch, or 1,000 FBI files with the First Lady's fingerprints being found in the White House residential section.

Wrong is wrong - but Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and William Jefferson are all still holding office, with greater scandals than Gonzales - there are still PRIORITIES, too.

Posted by Rose [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 10, 2007 9:57 PM

What's ironic is that Sensenbrenner seemed to want to highlight Gonzales' incompetence, but instead emphasized the very thing that lies at the heart of this matter.

Posted by: starfleet_dude at May 10, 2007 06:05 PM

What's doubly ironic is that you just did the same thing - Jefferson was caught on tape, America knows the seizures from Jefferson's offices was very proper as an elected official has NO RIGHT to hide the things of his POLITICAL office that would indict him of serious felonies.

Jefferson is guilty and no closer to a conviction after two years - AND BY THE COMPLICIT APPROVAL OF THE DIM PARTY should have been cast out of public office two years ago, as well - it is the DIMS who are thwarting Justice.

And when certain Attorney Generals are complicit with Dim forces to NOT BE BRINGING THEIR CASES TO TRIAL as they SHOULD be doing, they deserve to be released from duty REGARDLESS of "SENIORITY" or other bogus DIM rituals of bureaucracy.

The destructions used by the enemies of Justice will ALWAYS destroy the enemies of Justice. In the END.

Posted by scrapiron [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 10, 2007 10:25 PM

White house and all government employee's must be rubbing their hands in glee. Don't this mean that the next president cannot replace any person (appointed or not) now working (on the payroll) for the government?

Does to me and we should be prepared to make the democrats pay the next time they take the white house. No firings, one or massive. I guess Rove will get to keep his job.

Posted by Carol_Herman [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 10, 2007 11:05 PM

The next president of the United States is not going to be a DIVIDER.

When you compare Bush's words to the facts, you see it. He went ahead, in an arrogant manner; not even caring that he had no donks on board.

That's just a stupid bet.

In DC, when Eisenhower won America's heart; and easily won his two terms, he did not spit on Lyndon Johnson. But the contrary! He saw that in the Senate, Lyndon knew how to get bills passed. And, the two of them met every Friday afternoon for lunch, when both were in DC. That's how Eisenhower did politics.

Basically, you can decide to get along. Or you can decide to fight. Bush put his dukes up. And, he's getting punched silly, now.

While some on the right live in De-Nile. They think that being rude, especially to donks, will keep them sailing to victory. NOT QUITE.

Yes, I began by thinking pelosi was NOT in control of the car she was driving! She seemed to ignore plate glass windows. And, she talked about "rags" no one thought she'd ever use.

But it hasn't hurt her!

The next thing I noticed was that the donks were better behaved. (As well behaved as they were when Lyndon was in the Senate. And, the House was well-run, too.)

In politics, "well-run" means YOU CAN COUNT THE VOTES!

And, well run also means what it meant to Lincoln! You don't just fire people because they make you mad. You, instead, choose the time and place. Long after they think you'll ever respond. And, then you "accept their resignation letters."

Bush has less friends in DC, now, than you think!

And, yes. The HOUSE, on the republican side, is in disarray. Read DeLay's book! He's very entertaining. He reached DC back in 1980. He had 22 years in. And, Newt Gingrich, among others, DROVE HIM CRAZY!

When you read the cast of characters; from Dick Armey to Hastert; you begin to understand that some politicians, under the skin, are very prickly. ANd, short-sighted. THEY ONLY CARE ABOUT THEIR OWN CAREERS.

And, Bush is doing harms to those who want to be re-elected. You'd be surprised, if your job was in DC, how well attuned you'd be to current events. And, how news is traveling thorugh your district.

People at home could care less that there are inner fights over nothing.

What lots of people see, however, is that Bush can't run a team. And, that he's alienated too many leaders in congress. You think party affiliation is that important? Why?

Better men have done better jobs.

And, the current "surge" in public opinion is not in Bush's favor. Did things go wrong with Paul Bremer, the day he landed in Baghdad. YUP. That's when the terror started. And, the American's backed the firing of 500,000 working Iraqis.

Add to this that Bush had no problem sending in people who didn't speak Arabic.

Today, it's obvious. Bush can't pick talent. He only wants the "yes-men." And, then he doesn't want to be faced with problems.

He's in the WRONG TOWN! With the WRONG attitude.

And, if Bush were a democrat? You'd call him Grey Davis.

Anyway, just from the Drudge headlines. Where the GOP House member, Kirk, took a delegation in to point out to the president that things were "restive" on the GOP side of the HOUSE ... It's not gonna gain you any advantages sticking to the "plan" of insulting everybody else, not a member of your church.

And, it can't be fixed, now.

In politics, it's pretty much known that even the best of them reach a point where they're gonna be going home. For Tony Blair, at least, today, had some "nostalgia" hooked in for the TV cameras. I don't think it's gonna be as kind when Bush goes home. Anymore than it was for Jimmy Carter. Another idiot who thought he'd dictate. And, Congress would fall over themselves to kiss his ring. Nope.

Among the problems Bush has, is that there's nothing here that translates well into a TV sound byte. Let alone all the stuff that's already out there, that's been avoided by the majority. Who usually just do "seat of their pants" appraisals, anyway.

What happens when the eyes open? Could you even handle the information that goes into HOUSE OF BUSH / HOUSE OF SAUD? While oddly enough, it sounds familiar hearing it.

Bush manipulated the system to get the nomination. Wasn't the best of times in 2000.

That "low point" is back, again.

Tom DeLay points out that in DC the art of politics is to COMPROMISE. He's not stupid. But pelosi removed his testicles, anyway. Hastert refused to lend a hand. So the knife thrust worked.

No. It's not fair. Nothing's fair in love nor war.

Posted by Lightwave [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 11, 2007 7:05 AM

Gonzales has survived and he'll continue to do so. Why? He did nothing illegal. Being a political lightning rod isn't against the law.

Gosh, don't the Dems look stupid about now? Everything they've tried to do since January -- pass their domestic pork bills, go after Gonzo and try to sabotage the war for their AQ buddies -- has all FAILED MISERABLY.

Their base is angry. The moderates are angry. The conservatives are of course angry. Time is about to expire on the Democrats as a viable party. More and more Americans are seeing the Dems for what they are: worthless pandering parasites.

History will not be kind to the Traitorcrats.

Posted by Faith1 [TypeKey Profile Page] | May 11, 2007 7:46 AM

I'm still trying to figure out why this whole issue matters? Political firings over political jobs due to disagreement on politics JUST DOESN'T MATTER. The reality is no one really cares except for the people who hate Bush so much they champion anything that comes along that might be used as some sort of weapon against him. Well, not true, there are also the ones who hate Bush for not fighting back against the Bush-haters.

I neither love nor despise Bush. I think if a proper poll were done of most Americans (and not us political-blog-reading-junkies) you would find that outside of the Beltway and Blogs no one gives a damn about this.

It's just politics--always has been--always will be and a good chunk of people don't care and are tired of hearing about it.