Sunday, April 15, 2007

DOJ Official Contradicts Gonzo Statements

Attorney General Gonzales tried to save his job with a lame op-ed in today's Washington Post in which he claimed "nothing improper" had taken place in the Prosecutor Purge.

And yet, his underlings keep contradicting his excuses:

The former Justice Department official who carried out the firings of eight U.S. attorneys last year told Congress that several of the prosecutors had no performance problems and that a memo on the firings was distributed at a Nov. 27 meeting attended by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, a Democratic senator said yesterday.

The statements to House and Senate investigators by Michael A. Battle, former director of the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys, represent another potential challenge to the credibility of Gonzales, who has said that he never saw any documents about the firings and that he had "lost confidence" in the prosecutors because of performance problems.


Gonzales and his deputy, Paul J. McNulty, initially told Congress that the firings were due to "performance-related" problems. Subsequent e-mails and other documents released by Justice showed that most had positive job reviews, that they and other U.S. attorneys were ranked on whether they were "loyal Bushies," and that Gonzales was more deeply involved in the process than he has sometimes acknowledged.

The statements by Battle, who left his job last month, are the first details to emerge from more than 20 hours of interviews with four top Gonzales aides over the past two weeks by staff members on the House and Senate Judiciary committees. The last of those interviews was conducted yesterday with Sampson, who testified publicly last month that he was only an "aggregator" of information on the firings and that ultimate responsibility rested with Gonzales.

Battle told investigators that he was "not aware of performance problems with respect to several" of the prosecutors when he called to fire them, Schumer said in a conference call with reporters yesterday.

Schumer said Battle also contradicted Gonzales's assertion at a March 13 news conference that he had not seen any documents or participated in any discussions about the firings. A memo related to the dismissals was passed out at a Nov. 27 meeting attended by Gonzales and others, Battle told investigators.

"Mike Battle remembers a memo was distributed," Schumer said.

The contradictions keep coming in Gonzogate.

I wonder what former Gonzo chief of staff Kyle Sampson told the House and Senate Judiciary Committees yesterday.

It was revealed on Friday that Sampson had possibly perjured himself before Congress when he testified last month that no successors for the purged prosecutors were considered before they were fired. Friday's DOJ document dump showed that Sampson himself had named possible successors for the purged attorneys a year before the firings.

I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall at the Sampson testimony on Saturday.

This thing keeps spreading.

Tuesday is sure going to be must-see TV.

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