Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Subversion of justice watch: major damage control begins

This thing is moving fast! The Washington Post's more detailed account of the White House involvement in the firings of the U.S. attorneys today: "Firings Had Genesis in White House." Plus updates: Gonzales's press conference today and coverage.

This looks bad. Very bad. Kyle Sampson, the chief of staff to Gonzales resigned yesterday. And Gonzales is clearly trying to hang responsibility for the firings on Sampson. With a bunch of deserved responsibility for the mess being attributed to Harriet Miers, now long gone as well.

Chuck Schumer is on this like white on rice:
"We were told by the attorney general that he would, quote, 'never ever' make a change for political reasons," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has been investigating the dismissals. "It now turns out that this was a falsehood. As all the evidence makes clear that this purge was based purely on politics."

Schumer, who called for Gonzales's resignation on Sunday, warned that the resignation yesterday of Gonzales' top aide, D. Kyle Sampson, will not absolve Gonzales, the nation's top law enforcement official, of blame in the widening scandal.

"In fact, it raises the temperature," Schumer told reporters on Capitol Hill. "Kyle Sampson will not become the next Scooter Libby, the next fall guy." I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, vice president Cheney's former chief of staff, was convicted last week of lying about his role in the leak of an undercover CIA officer's identity. Some Libby supporters and others assert he was a "fall guy" for misdeeds by others in the Bush administration.
And a big shout out, as usual, to Senator Pat Leahy:
"The White House and the Attorney General have dodged Congress's questions and ducked accountability as if they still were dealing with a rubberstamp Congress," Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement. "They are discovering that those days are gone.

"I am outraged that the Attorney General was less than forthcoming with the Senate while under oath before the Judiciary Committee," Leahy added. " . . . The President of the United States and the Attorney General are responsible for setting the moral standard for this Administration. Apparently this matter does not bother them but it does bother me, and we will summon whoever we need in our hearings to get to the bottom of this."
Ah, congressional hearings and subpoenas for Republicans in the spring...just what's needed to get out of the winter doldrums...:)