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The ITT List

Wednesday, Mar 14, 2007, 12:00 pm

Chuck Schumer Asks Some Questions

By Brian Zick
Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker reports that Senator Chuck Schumer has written a letter to the President, asking five questions.
1. In an email to the White House, Mr. Sampson refers to a “problem” with Carol Lam. What was this “problem” and was Lam’s firing motivated by her investigation into former Congressmen Randy Cunningham and Representative Jerry Lewis?

a. Gonzales’ chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, contacted William Kelley, Deputy Counsel to the President, on replacing Carol Lam, stating, “[t]he real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires.”

b. Mr. Sampson’s email was sent the same day that the Los Angeles Times had broken the news that Ms. Lam’s investigation of former Congressman Randy Cunningham (R-CA) had expanded to include Representative Jerry Lewis (R-CA).

2. What was the involvement of the President and members of the White House staff on the removal of these eight U.S. Attorneys?

a. White House spokespeople have portrayed the White House as having only limited involvement in the plan to dismiss these U.S. attorneys. Yet the documents released to the Senate Judiciary Committee clearly show that the idea of removing a group of U.S. attorneys originated in early 2005 with Harriet E. Miers, then serving as the President’s Counsel. Ms. Miers suggested dismissing all 93 U.S. attorneys. Mr. Sampson replied, "Harriet, you have asked whether President Bush should remove and replace U.S. Attorneys whose four-year terms have expired. I recommend that the Department of Justice and the Office of the Counsel to the President work together to seek the replacement for a limited number of U.S. Attorneys."

3. Who at the Department of Justice was responsible for inserting a line into the USA PATRIOT Act in March 2006 that allows the appointment of interim U.S. Attorneys without Senate approval? Did the President know of or approve this effort?

a. Documents provided to Congress indicate that, during reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act in March 2006, the Justice Department specifically requested a provision that authorizes the Attorney General to appoint interim U.S. attorneys for an indefinite period of time. This provision may have been deliberately exploited – and perhaps even deliberately added to legislation – in order to bypass the Senate confirmation process for U.S. attorneys.

b. Mr. Sampson told Ms. Miers: “I strongly recommend that, as a matter of policy, we utilize the new statutory provisions that authorize the AG to make USA appointments…. By not going the PAS route, we can give far less deference to the home-State Senators and thereby get (1) our preferred person appointed and (2) do it faster and more efficiently, at less cost to the White House.”

4. Was Karl Rove or Ms. Miers involved in lobbying for the appointment of Tim Griffin as U.S. Attorney in Arkansas?

a. In a letter responding to questions from Senator Schumer dated February 23, 2007, the Department of Justice informed Schumer that it was “not aware of anyone lobbying for Mr. Griffin’s appointment” and that “[t]he Department is not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the decision to appoint Mr. Griffin.”

b. An email from Mr. Sampson sent an e-mail on December 19, 2006 contradicts these statements. His email stated, “I’m not 100 percent sure that Tim was the guy on which to test drive this authority [of the Attorney General to appoint interim U.S. attorneys], but know that getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.” Please explain any involvement of Karl Rove or members of his staff in the decision to request the resignation of H.E. (“Bud”) Cummins III as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas and to install Tim Griffin in his stead.

5. When and why did U. S. Attorney David Iglesias become a target for removal? Was President Bush involved in that decision?

a. On March 2, 2005, D. Kyle Sampson provided identified David Iglesias in bold type as an individual that Sampson “recommend[ed] retaining” based on Iglesias’s strong job performance and “loyalty” to the Administration.

b. On October 17, 2006, Mr. Sampson drew up a list of Attorneys they “should consider pushing out”; Mr. Iglesias was not among those names.

c. On November 15, 2006, Mr. Sampson prepared a detailed “Plan for Replacing Certain United States Attorneys” that lists Mr. Iglesias among the prosecutors to be dismissed by the Department. As you know, in accordance with that plan, the Department contacted Mr. Iglesias on December 7, 2006, to request his resignation.
Question #3 can also be answered by the recipient of the request, Michael O'Neill, the aide to Sen. Arlen Specter who sneaked the provision into the bill without anyone knowing - including Specter (so he claims). Has O'Neill already provided the answer? The implications, of course, are rather significant, because the indications clearly point to a criminal enterprise conspiracy orchestrated to install ringers in position of U.S. Attorney, in order to rig criminal investigations that favor Republicans and disfavor Democrats.
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