“Prepare to Withstand Political Upheaval”

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That line in former Justice Department official Kyle Sampson’s December 4, 2006, memo to the White House (where a copy went to then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers) pretty much sums up where things stand on the scandal surrounding the mass firing of U.S. Attorneys. The latest documents released by the Administration show that the White House instigated the move, and that the President himself had passed on complaints he had been hearing about individual prosecutors to Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales. The deepening involvement of Miers and Gonzales–aides whose service to Bush goes back to their Texas days, and who are known for their unquestioning loyalty–means that the White House is going to have to answer far more detailed questions about the Administration’s motives for getting rid of the U.S. attorneys. It also means that Karl Rove–who last week insisted that the whole episode was merely routine–is likely to be spending more time than he likes on Capitol Hill.

I’m also intrigued by another connection: According to a NY Times profile of Sampson today, he was in competition himself for a U.S. Attorney post in Utah. The name of the guy who beat him out for the job might sound familiar. He was Brett Tolman–who, as I reported in Swampland last week, was the person that Arlen Specter fingered as the Justice Department official responsible for giving the Administration its expansive new power to end-run the Senate in appointing U.S. Attorneys. It was done under a provision, little-noticed at the time, that was inserted into legislation reauthorizing the Patriot Act. That provision now appears certain to be undone by Congress.

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