Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thursday Gonzales roundup

Subpoena fight: As expected, the Senate authorized subpoenas for White House aides in the prosecutor scandal. But Congress made no immediate move to actually issue them. First comes negotiations to see if a deal can be reached to avoid a legal battle, a process that could take days.

Gonzales lied? We have what appears to be Gonzales caught in a lie about his authority to appoint interim prosecutors. ThinkProgress thought they had him nailed a week or so ago, when they posted a transcript of Gonzales testifying that he never intended to use the power (see first update in link). At the time, it was simply juxtaposed against the obvious fact that he had used it. Now an e-mail exchange involving Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' former chief of staff, indicates that not only did he plan to use it, but the department hoped to stall long enough that the appointments would last until the end of Bush's term.

In response to a question about what to do about the confirmation of one replacement, Tim Griffin, Sampson wrote:

I think we should gum this to death: ask the Senators to give Tim a chance, meet with him, give him some time in office to see how he performs, etc. If they ultimately say "no never" (and the longer we can forestall that the better), then we can tell them we'll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, evaluate the recommendations, interview their candidates, and otherwise run out the clock. All of this should be done in "good faith," of course.

Gotta love the use of "good faith" in this context.

At the end of the e-mail, you may have noticed this line:

I'm not 100% sure that Tim was the guy on which to test drive this authority but know that getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.

While interesting, and proof positive of White House involvement, this doesn't peg the outrage meter very high. Tim Griffin is the one appointment that the administration has acknowledged was made for political reasons, and there doesn't appear to be any additional hanky-panky with that one.

Old allegations are new again: In the category of "piling on", a retired Justice Department lawyer, Sharon Eubanks, has renewed allegations of political interference in a 2005 tobacco case. On the one hand, there was an uproar and an investigation of her claims at the time by the Justice Department's internal watchdog, and it concluded that the input from political appointees was not intended to weaken the case, as Eubanks claims. On the other hand, Eubanks calls that investigation a whitewash and says she was never asked about details of her claims. NPR had an interview with her today; give it a listen.

Trusted friend: NPR also had a good piece on how Gonzales became such a good Bush family friend: By helping a young Bush get out of a jury-duty assignment that would have required him admitting to two alcohol-related arrests -- something that could have derailed his political ambitions.

Intriguing, indeed: Finally, an interesting exchange yesterday at the end of the daily White House press briefing. Interesting enough to quote in full:

Q Just to follow up on one point earlier, yesterday the President said, and you've repeated, that the principle at stake here with executive privilege is that the President needs to get candid advice from his advisors, right?

MR. SNOW: What the President has talked about is privileged communications with close staff members, that is correct.

Q But earlier you were saying that, when I asked about, well, was the President informed of this decision, did the President sign off on U.S. attorneys being fired, you said the President has no recollection of being informed of all this.

MR. SNOW: Correct.

Q So were his advisors really advising him on this? Is this really privileged communication involving the President and his advisors, if the President wasn't looped in, you're saying, on this decision? So it was other people --

MR. SNOW: Well, that also falls into the intriguing question category.

It sure does. If the president wasn't involved, it makes an executive privilege claim hard to sustain.

Update: New e-mails make it even harder to avoid the conclusion that Gonzales lied to Congress about his intentions regarding the "interim U.S. attorney" power.

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Blogger daniel said...

Just today, Alberto Gonzales said he is working tirelessly to be sure he has every American's back covered...especially our children.

I don’t know about anyone else but I’ve always been suspicious of the guy that seems to go out of his way to tell you he’s "got your back covered".

See a sarcastic visual that demonstrates how many Americans feel when the Attorney General reassures us that he's got our backs

3/23/2007 12:04 AM  

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