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Tuesday, Apr 24, 2007, 7:08 pm

Naughty, Naughty; Bush DoJ Has Been Holding Out on Documents Requested by Congress

By Brian Zick
Jennifer Talhelm for AP reports:
Rep. Rick Renzi said in a statement Tuesday that he was taking a leave of absence from the House Financial Services and Natural Resources committees. He stepped down from the House Intelligence Committee last week.

Even as he insisted that he had been "the subject of leaked stories, conjecture and false attacks" about a 2005 land exchange, Renzi became entangled in the U.S. attorneys probe when his chief of staff acknowledged calling Arizona's prosecutor's office to discuss the matter.

The prosecutor, Paul Charlton, was one of the eight prosecutors fired by the Justice Department
over the winter.

Brian Murray, Renzi's top aide, issued a statement late Tuesday acknowledging that shortly after the local media reported that the congressmen was being investigated, he called Charlton spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle.
(...)
Murray's disclosure came a few hours after Charlton related the call to House investigators probing whether the firings amounted to a political purge by the Bush administration. An official with the House Judiciary Committee said Charlton did not provide details of the call but said his chief investigator reported the call to the Justice Department.
Josh Marshall reports:
The AP sources that to a House Judiciary Committee official and I've also confirmed with House Judiciary investigators that the DOJ failed to give this information to congressional investigators.
update:
Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker calls attention to this report by John Wilke and Evan Perez for the WSJ:
As midterm elections approached last November, federal investigators in Arizona faced unexpected obstacles in getting needed Justice Department approvals to advance a corruption investigation of Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, people close to the case said.

The delays, which postponed key approvals in the case until after the election, raise new questions about whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or other officials may have weighed political issues in some investigations. The Arizona U.S. attorney then overseeing the case, Paul Charlton, was told he was being fired in December, one of eight federal prosecutors dismissed in the past year. The dismissals have triggered a wave of criticism and calls from Congress for Mr. Gonzales to resign.

Investigators pursuing the Renzi case had been seeking clearance from senior Justice Department officials on search warrants, subpoenas and other legal tools for a year before the election, people close to the case said.
Paul Kiel notes that
The bosses at main Justice seem to have been similarly reluctant to proceed with regard to the Duke Cunningham probe. As TPM reported a couple of weeks ago, U.S. Attorney for San Diego Carol Lam had to wait sometimes for months for clearance on certain moves in her investigation. So is there a pattern here?
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