Gonzales subpoenaed for DOJ documents on US Attorney firings

[JURIST] The US House Judiciary Committee issued a subpoena [PDF text] to US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] Tuesday for US Justice Department documents relating to the firings of eight US Attorneys [JURIST news archive]. In a letter accompanying the subpoena, committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) noted that the DOJ's "incomplete response" to the committee's request for documents "falls far short of what is needed for the Subcommittee and Committee to effectively exercise their oversight responsibilities in ascertaining the truth behind the very serious concerns that have been raised regarding this matter." AP has more.

The subpoena comes the day after four senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter [press release with text] to Gonzales, requesting additional undisclosed documents in that committee's investigation of the firings and claiming the DOJ failed to turn over relevant documents despite repeated calls from the Senate Judiciary Committee. The letter from US Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Charles Schumer (D-NY), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) [official websites] suggests that the DOJ has been less than forthright in disclosing documents:

[W]e are concerned that additional documents relevant to the Committees' investigations are missing or have been withheld....

Given that this was a process that extended over more than two years and involved staff from both the Department of Justice and the White House, and involved consideration of a number of U.S. Attorneys, there would seem to be other documents that would comment upon the reasons some U.S. Attorneys were chosen for removal and others were not. For example, there are press reports that the former U.S. Attorney in San Francisco had multiple evaluations and was the subject of significant discussions. Documents reflecting those multiple evaluations and significant discussions have not been produced to date. This raises a question about whether we have seen all similar documents about others selected for replacement or left in place.
In addition, the letter identifies specific undisclosed documents such as a chart provided by former Gonzales aide Monica Goodling to former chief of staff Kyle Sampson [official profile], who both resigned in the wake of the scandal, that was described in an e-mail that was turned over to the committee. The letter also outlines several document requests and poses questions from the committee concerning its disclosure procedures.

Last Thursday, Leahy sent a letter [press release with text] to White House counsel Fred Fielding seeking undisclosed documents relating to the firings from President George W. Bush. Last Monday, Leahy rejected attempts [JURIST report] by the Bush administration to move up the date that Gonzales is scheduled to testify. In March, Sampson told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the prosecutors were fired for political reasons [JURIST report] rather than for poor performance as the DOJ has claimed [JURIST report]. The New York Times has more.

 

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