this story has no bottom!

Posted on Monday 30 April 2007

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales signed a highly confidential order in March 2006 delegating to two of his top aides — who have since resigned because of their central roles in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys — extraordinary authority over the hiring and firing of most non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department. A copy of the order and other Justice Department records related to the conception and implementation of the order were provided to National Journal.

In the order, Gonzales delegated to his then-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, and his White House liaison "the authority, with the approval of the Attorney General, to take final action in matters pertaining to the appointment, employment, pay, separation, and general administration" of virtually all non-civil-service employees of the Justice Department, including all of the department’s political appointees who do not require Senate confirmation. Monica Goodling became White House liaison in April 2006, the month after Gonzales signed the order.

The existence of the order suggests that a broad effort was under way by the White House to place politically and ideologically loyal appointees throughout the Justice Department, not just at the U.S.-attorney level. Department records show that the personnel authority was delegated to the two aides at about the same time they were working with the White House in planning the firings of a dozen U.S. attorneys, eight of whom were, in fact, later dismissed.

  • March 1, 2006 – Gonzales delegates hiring and firing in the DOJ to Sampson and WH Liason
  • March 6, 2006 – Patriot Act1 passes the Senate
  • March 7, 2006 – Patriot Act1 passes the House of Representatives
  • March 9, 2006 – Patriot Act1 signed by Bush [with Signing Statement]
  • April 2006 – Monica Goodling becomes DOJ WH Liason

1 containing a clause allowing the AG to appoint Interim USA’s indefinitely

Murray Waas has scored once more. Gonzales delegated the DOJ hiring and firing to the youth corps – Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling – right about the time that the piece was inserted into the Patriot Act allowing the Attorney General to appoint Interim U.S. Attorneys with an indefinite tenure. Alberto Gonzales sat through that whole Senate hearing without bringing this order up, nor for that matter did his Chef of Staff, Kyle Sampson. No wonder Sampson and Goodling resigned so quickly! No wonder Goodling is afraid of prosecution and invoking the 5th Amendment! With a clandestine signature and a little sleight of hand, the process for selecting a U.S. Attorney went from a Presidential nomination confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the hands of two young, inexperienced lawyers both connected to the political arm of the White House. Well, they did have to run it by the Attorney General, though he doesn’t recall the meeting.

Alberto GonzalesHarriet MiersKarl RoveKyle SampsonMonica Goodling

So, tell me that this sequence of events wasn’t orchestrated. Gonzales turns over the hiring and firing to underlings that are directly connected to the White House through Harriet Miers, the White House Counsel at the same time a change is inserted into the Patriot Act in a nightime committee meeting that Congress turns the appointments over to the Attorney General. The Senate has been taken totally out of the loop and doesn’t seem to have even known it happened. That’s planning! And with all the contraversy swirling around about these firings, Gonzales and his former Chief of Staff don’t bring up this order, instead drowning us in a sea of "I don’t recall"s. He doesn’t recall because he gave the process away to Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling, two thirty-somethings with no real experience as lawyers who were Republican Operatives, but he didn’t tell us about that. Un-frigging-believable!


In a new statement, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said the secret order “would seem to be evidence of an effort to hardwire control over law enforcement by White House political operatives,” and demanded that it be turned over to congressional investigators immediately:

This memorandum should have been turned over to Senate and House committees as part of requests made in ongoing investigations. I expect the Department of Justice to immediately provide Congress with full information about this troubling decision as well as any other related documents they have failed to turn over to date. Patrick Leahy

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