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Tilting at Windmills

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May 10, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

HIDDEN EMAILS....Back in February, Kyle Sampson drafted a letter (for acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling's signature) stating that Karl Rove had no role in appointing Timothy Griffin as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. A few weeks later Sampson wrote another letter admitting that this wasn't true: Rove had indeed been interested in getting his friend Griffin the job.

But was this solely a misrepresentation on Sampson's part? Or did the White House sign off on it? Murray Waas says he's gotten hold of some email messages indicating that the White House was indeed involved in the deception:

The withheld e-mails show that Sampson's draft was forwarded for review to Chris Oprison, an associate White House counsel, who approved the language saying that Justice was not aware of Rove having played any role in supporting Griffin. But an earlier e-mail from Sampson to Oprison that has already been made public indicates that the two men discussed Rove and then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers as being at the forefront of Griffin's nomination.

....Oprison, in turn, consulted with White House Counsel Fred Fielding and Deputy White House Counsel Bill Kelley in approving the draft of the letter, according to White House records.

Waas says something similar happened with a letter stating that DOJ didn't intend to use the Patriot Act to install Griffin without Senate approval. According to a "senior executive branch official," another withheld email message shows that Oprison and others signed off on that letter as well:

In drafting the letter, Sampson consulted with Sara Taylor, the White House political director and an aide to Rove....The senior executive branch official who read the e-mail said it was significant because Taylor signed off on the letter despite the fact that Taylor, Oprison, and other White House officials knew that the administration had indeed considered using the PATRIOT Act to make Griffin a U.S. attorney.

The story is long and complicated, the precise content of the emails is a little hazy, and it's hard to say exactly how damaging these specific revelations are. However, the broader fact that DOJ is withholding emails about Purgegate is unquestionably important:

Two senior administration officials told National Journal they were frustrated with decisions by Gonzales not to release some of the documents held by the Justice Department. One of the officials charged that "Gonzales is doing this to save his own neck," at the expense of the administration. The same official said that senior aides to Gonzales have been refusing to turn over many relevant documents to Congress, and that the attorney general's top aides have been selectively leaking portions of them to the media to portray themselves in a favorable light.

More to come, no doubt.

Kevin Drum 3:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (53)

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Comments

Get ready for the onslaught of specious arguments:

"Executive privilege..."

"Separation of powers..."

"Serve at the pleasure of the President..."

Posted by: Old Hat on May 10, 2007 at 3:30 PM | PERMALINK

Not to mention: "Clinton did it toooo!"


.

Posted by: spork_incident on May 10, 2007 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

leaks on a rat-filled ship. if it would only sink faster...

Posted by: cleek on May 10, 2007 at 3:34 PM | PERMALINK

How could I forget?

Posted by: Old Hat on May 10, 2007 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK


wonder if gwb is set for a big f-u to congress..

with gonzales...

say abu resigns on...sat. 5/26...

bush pulls a recess appointment of a loyal bushie..during the memorial day break..

who would be surprised?

Posted by: mr. irony on May 10, 2007 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Back in February, Kyle Sampson drafted a letter (for acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling's signature) stating that Karl Rove had no role in appointing Timothy Griffin as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas. A few weeks later Sampson wrote another letter admitting that this wasn't true: Rove had indeed been interested in getting his friend Griffin the job.

This has got to be a crime, and those involved also guilty of conspiracy.

Posted by: Robert the Red on May 10, 2007 at 3:41 PM | PERMALINK

bush pulls a recess appointment of a loyal bushie..during the memorial day break..

Hey, since congress doesn't have to travel by horse to get to the Capitol anymore, can we do away with recess appointments permanently? We can call it the Bolton amendment or something.

Posted by: phleabo on May 10, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

Harriet for AG on Memorial Day!!!

Posted by: Neal on May 10, 2007 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

I know it kinda goes without saying, but wow, these are the 'favorable' emails so far?

Posted by: Patrick on May 10, 2007 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

One of the [Senior administration] officials charged that "Gonzales is doing this to save his own neck," at the expense of the administration.

Am i supposed to defy logic here? Gonzo withheld emails that implicate Rove in the conspiracy to replace non-Bushies. And logically this is because Gonzo wants to save the neck of himself, not Rove/Bush.

Posted by: absent observer on May 10, 2007 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

The important point that everyone is missing is it's been 2302 days since Bush took office, which means no blowjobs have been given or received in the White House for that amount of time.

Posted by: Old Hat on May 10, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

This stinks and is impeachment worthy; at least for Gonzales.

Posted by: Northern Observer on May 10, 2007 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

And when will Congress impeach Gonzales?

About the time they impeach Bush or Cheney, i.e., never.

They will fume and fuss though.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on May 10, 2007 at 3:59 PM | PERMALINK

no blowjobs have been given or received in the White House for that amount of time.

Yeah, but there has been plenty of buggery.

Posted by: Disputo on May 10, 2007 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

So why not impeach Gonzalas?

I don't think Gonzalas has any Republicans in Congress backing him so I doubt there would be any issue with impeachment and conviction.

It would also be the strongest message yet to the Administration that Congress is ready to play hardball.

I'm starting to wonder if Congress really does want to do anything or whether this all posturing.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on May 10, 2007 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Bush Admin email now comes in 2 varieties: leaked and withheld.

Posted by: wishIwuz2 on May 10, 2007 at 4:08 PM | PERMALINK

The important point that everyone is missing is it's been 2302 days since Bush took office, which means no blowjobs have been given or received in the White House for that amount of time.

Shouldn't that be the amount of days after Jeff Gannon had his press pass revoked? Zing!

Posted by: made-up-name on May 10, 2007 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

Everyone needs to check out AGAG's ridiculous performance today, where when asked if there were any US citizens being held without access to habeas or whether US citizens had been rendered to any foreign countries, he replied, "you're asking me a question I hadn't really thought about."

OMFG!

ITMFA!!!

Posted by: Disputo on May 10, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Recess appointments are in the Constitution.

On the other hand, Congress could probably find a way to never be officially in recess.

Posted by: Joe Buck on May 10, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Gonzales will leave office the same time that Bush does. Bush will not fire him for any reason, and not enough Republicans will actually vote to convict him for an impeachment to work. The Republican conspiracy will hang together long enough to protect the worst of the bastards. Assuming Dems take the presidency in 2009, there will be plenty of time to destroy all the evidence between the election and the inauguration, and bountiful pardons will shield the big fish from justice just in case anything incriminating survives.

Posted by: jimBOB on May 10, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

How is Gonzales doing this to save his own neck alone? The more he stonewalls, the more he protects Bush and Rove.

Posted by: RLE on May 10, 2007 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

Slow news day, Kevin?

It's a sign of liberal desperation on this issue that they're looking for evidence in emails.

In this elecronic age nobody is dumb enough to put incriminating evidence in an email.

It's obvious that no one in the administration did anything wrong, but if they did, they would have been smart enough to hide their tracks - especially from naive liberals.

Posted by: Al on May 10, 2007 at 5:00 PM | PERMALINK

To the Republican mind, the questions are: is that illegal? If not, so what?

To an objective mind, the question is: if there's no illegality involved, then why all the effort at covering up the facts?

The only reasonable answer to both is that there have been illegal acts committed - perhaps undiscovered or overlooked as yet - or they understand it's immoral and unethical and wish to keep that from the public light.

Either way, it calls for further investigation. And it demands, at least, legislation that provides more Congressional oversight simply to protect the integrity of the justice system from political abuse of the law.

These are humans, not Gods; our servants, not our masters. Sunlight is the first essential to democracy and oversight with effective enforcement mechanisms ought to be mandated, or the concept of balanced law enforcement will die and with it, all respect for every law.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden on May 10, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "It's obvious that no one in the administration did anything wrong..."

Yeah, about as obvious as your chances of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Posted by: Kenji on May 10, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

In this elecronic age nobody is dumb enough to put incriminating evidence in an email

There's an enormity of evidence in this admin alone to indicate you're deceiving yourself.

It's why I tend to dismiss most mega-conspiracy issues about this White House. Repeatedly, despite their success at media manipulation and getting elected, this admin's officials have exceeded all the Guinness Book's records for 'dumb'.

And most of their dumbness has been easily outed, now that we have a Congress that has actually looked.

Posted by: Kevin Hayden on May 10, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

Al: "[N]obody is dumb enough to put incriminating evidence in an email."

Indeed. During the Nixon administration, nobody was also dumb enough to tape their own series of discussions with nobody about nobody covering up nobody's involvement in the multiple break-ins and wiretapping at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate Hotel / Office complex, either.

What I find particularly fascinating, is that nobody can deny that nobody is responsible whenever Republicans are in the White House.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on May 10, 2007 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK

For the latest news, document dumps, email archives, hearing transcripts and other essential materials in the firings of U.S. attorneys, see:
"The U.S. Attorney Scandal Documents."

Posted by: AngryOne on May 10, 2007 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

One of the officials charged that "Gonzales is doing this to save his own neck," at the expense of the administration.

If that were true that would mean that all those "I don't remember"s that AG gave out with in his testimony were for real and not AG2 trying to protect his boss by appearing to be the biggest boob to ever testify before Congress!!!

Mover over Doug Feith.

Posted by: majun on May 10, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Once again, I have an opportunity to remind you all that I told you people fncking so.

Posted by: s9 on May 10, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

The important point that everyone is missing is it's been 2302 days since Bush took office, which means no blowjobs have been given or received in the White House for that amount of time. Posted by: Old Hat

So you can account for the where abouts and activities of Jenna and Not Jenna and Scott McClellen for that entire time?

Posted by: JeffII on May 10, 2007 at 6:26 PM | PERMALINK

A couple of relevant points. First, Oprison, Fielding and Kelley are attorneys for the White House, and, as Bill Clinton learned, the scope of privilege of government lawyers is not at all the same as for lawyers representing private clients. Second, federal law clearly recognizes an exception to attorney-client privilege when the communication involves criminal activity. That is, a client may certainly ask his or her attorney whether a course of action could give rise to criminal prosecution. That freedom helps attorneys to counsel people not to commit crimes; a good thing. On the other hand, if an attorney obtains knowledge of a future criminal action by the client in an otherwise privileged communication, that communication is not generally privileged, because protecting it is protecting the criminal of a crime, what I like to call a bad thing. There is a third posibility: The attorney providing counsel actually takes steps which assist in the commission of a crime. Then, the communication is not privileged and the lawyer is a criminal. If it turns out that these three government attorneys assisted with the production of falsified evidence that they knew would be provided to Congress in the course of a Congressional investigation, then they could well have violated 18 USC section 1505, which carries a penalty of five years imprisonment. To which the White House counsel's office is probably saying, "Thanks, Karl."

The third point that might apply here is how Bush's insanely overreaching claim of executive privilege might be involved. There is precious little case law on executive privilege, so many issues are uncertain. However, at least one case has stated that investigation of criminal activity would likely be one interest that could trump executive privilege. I don't think that even this pro-executive Supreme Court is ready to expressly rule that executive privilege includes the commission of crimes.

Posted by: anoregonreader on May 10, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

The explanation given to Waas doesn't wash. I think Gonzales is working hand and glove with Karl Rove. Gonzales has done nothing to implicate the White House. The whole pinhead defense has one and only one purpose--protect Karl Rove. You really think Alberto came up with that one on his own.

We are all getting set up for the emerging fall guy--Kyle Sampson. Notice those hidden emails nail Sampson to the wall.

The wild card is Monica Goodling. If I hadn't heard about the 40 minute crying jag, I would have bet she falls on her sword as well. Now I am not so sure.

Anyway, I don't think Kyle is going to get any pardon after Bush leaves ofice.

The first one who rats out Karl Rove and Harriet Meirs to the Senate Judiciary Committee won't become a guest at some DoJ facility. If Rove comes down, so does Bush. High stakes poker. Glad I am not Kyle Sampson or Monica Goodling. One of them is going away.

Posted by: Ron Byers on May 10, 2007 at 6:38 PM | PERMALINK

"Chris Oprison, an associate White House counsel"

"O'Prison" - well, we can hope.

Posted by: Zandru on May 10, 2007 at 7:07 PM | PERMALINK

mhr, I would like to complain to your supervisor about the sudden drop in the quality of your troll work.

Posted by: Disputo on May 10, 2007 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

In the age of terror and after six muslims are arrested for an alleged plot to kill US soldiers at Fort Dix, the loony left considers that some political e-mails are the real threat to the Republic. Posted by: mhr

Right. The pizza delivery boy and his paintball patrol.

Posted by: JeffII on May 10, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

mentally handicapped reject: In the age of terror and after six muslims are arrested for an alleged plot to kill US soldiers at Fort Dix, the loony left considers that some political e-mails are the real threat to the Republic.

Funny that - the resident drops to 28% in the polls and another hapless crew of wannabe's gets rounded up by the feds and flogged in the press as a grave threat.

The emails are a grave threat to the nation. They undermine the foundation on which the Republic stands. If Justice is not just, we defeated the Soviets in the cold war only to become something worse.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 10, 2007 at 7:29 PM | PERMALINK

"The emails are a grave threat to the nation. They undermine the foundation on which the Republic stands. If Justice is not just, we defeated the Soviets in the cold war only to become something worse."

Hear, hear. From north of Buffalo, it sure looks like the Republicans are in the Stalinist league. Reading responses to the Bush Admin (and local trolls) here is like reading George Orwell's essays on the British Stalinists in the thirties. Thank God for blogs to let in the light!

Posted by: Bob M on May 10, 2007 at 8:45 PM | PERMALINK

Recess appointments are in the Constitution.

On the other hand, Congress could probably find a way to never be officially in recess.

Or they could make the office expire if it became vacant during a recess of the Senate, with its responsibilities reverting to the President, until reauthorized by a new law. No vacancy to fill, no recess appointments.

Posted by: cmdicely on May 10, 2007 at 9:17 PM | PERMALINK

The emails are a grave threat to the nation. They undermine the foundation on which the Republic stands. If Justice is not just, we defeated the Soviets in the cold war only to become something worse.. by RG,BS

Well said.

And is'nt is strange how we slowly tend to become like ones we fought against.

It always amazes me to hear this administration lecture Putin on democracy and rule of law. And with no hint of irony either. Strange times...

Posted by: ppk on May 10, 2007 at 9:37 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry it should be "BG, RS" in my previous post. Got my initials mixed up.

Posted by: ppk on May 10, 2007 at 9:51 PM | PERMALINK

There should be a time limit for manufactured lefty scandals.

If you throw baseless accusations around for a period greater than 30 days and no real evidence develops, you should have to shut the f--- up.

Your fishing expedition netting you nothing, weenie libs.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on May 10, 2007 at 10:04 PM | PERMALINK

Yikes.

Now they're bringing in the third-string trolls.

Posted by: Disputo on May 10, 2007 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK

the whole story is definitely confusing, but that's the intent -- a bunch of smokescreens and incomplete information, including Gonzales' testimony.

But isn't it damning enough that, when asked if there was White House interference in DOJ affairs, a DOJ staffer wrote a letter answering in the negative -- then ran that letter by the White House for their approval? If Gonzales steps down, count on Bush to appoint Barbara Bush in his stead, and look for Jenna to replace Kyle Sampson.

Posted by: SkippyFlipjack on May 10, 2007 at 10:28 PM | PERMALINK

Anoregonreader - You have it just about dead on I would say.

Posted by: bmaz on May 10, 2007 at 10:31 PM | PERMALINK

Sportsfan, shut the fuck up. I recall an investigation into a land deal that squandered millions and resulted in...it was confirmed that the President got a blow job.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 10, 2007 at 10:41 PM | PERMALINK

ppk, most people still call me Globe or Global. I only started using my blogging identity here after kevin linked me a couple of times.

It's really funny to leave a comment somewhere else as Blue Girl, and get back a response to Global Citizen. (Happens more often than you might think.)

I bet that kinda confuses some of the newer lurkers sometimes, now that I think about it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 10, 2007 at 10:45 PM | PERMALINK

Well! And here I thought G.C. stood for Gastric Colitis.

Posted by: bmaz on May 10, 2007 at 11:01 PM | PERMALINK

mhr, YOU are the biggest threat to our republic. What the Muslims wanted to do remained theoretical. But you pollute the air of national thought every day with the garbage you exhale.

Oh, and hey, have you signed up yet. We're all waiting to see t=if you are prepared to die for your "ideals", or if you just want to send others in your place. Well?

Posted by: Kenji on May 10, 2007 at 11:10 PM | PERMALINK

Well, bmaz, I can be a pain in the ass.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 10, 2007 at 11:36 PM | PERMALINK

Aye. Have a wee bit o experience in that meeself.

Posted by: bmaz on May 10, 2007 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

I've met you.:)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on May 10, 2007 at 11:43 PM | PERMALINK

Bush is a liar. He hired liars to head up federal departments. They in turn hired more liars to work under them.

This is the bare-bones reason why this administration has lost the confidence of most of the country and most of the world.

No credibility here. No credibility abroad.

Oh, and the price of gas? Look at the value of the dollar worldwide. The wordwide lack of confidence in Bush and his lack of credibility in the world means that we trade more dollars for the same imports.

Lack of confidence in Bush is a primary part of the discussion to trade oil in petro-euros instead of petro-dollars. That my friends, indicates that the oil producing nations think that Bush's damage to us is going to last longer than his term in office. [and most of these people are insiders.]

/rant.

Posted by: jcricket on May 11, 2007 at 12:13 AM | PERMALINK


sportsfan 79: There should be a time limit for manufactured lefty scandals.


the gop look into white water took 10-years...

republicans: they can dish it out..but they can't take it..

Posted by: mr. irony on May 11, 2007 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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