Disclosed documents contradict Gonzales claim of limited role in US Attorney firings

[JURIST] Documents released Friday night by the US Department of Justice [official website] show the direct involvement of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive] in a November 27 meeting to fire eight US Attorneys [JURIST news archive], contradicting claims made by Gonzales last Tuesday that while he was aware that his then-Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson [profile] was "involved in the process of determining who were the weak performers... [Gonzales] was not involved in seeing any memos, [and] was not involved in any discussions about what was going on." According to the disclosed documents, Gonzales' aides presented a five-step plan to Gonzales for implementing the firings. It is not immediately clear whether Gonzales approved the plan during the meeting or at a subsequent date. The documents show that Sampson's dismissal plan was submitted to the White House on November 15 and was approved by former White House counsel Harriet Miers [official profile] on December 4, three days before the eight US Attorneys received phone calls saying that they were being fired, without explanation.

The Justice Department released more than 280 pages of e-mails, calender pages and memos under Congressional pressure for more details on how the firings were handled, which have been criticized as being politically motivated [JURIST report]. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee authorized subpoenas [JURIST report] for Miers, Sampson, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove [official profile] and several DOJ aides. The Senate Judiciary Committee also authorized subpoenas [JURIST] for the officials to testify and provide documents to that committee. AP has more. The New York Times has additional coverage.

 

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