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Third US Attorney time line markup page


March 6, 2007: Hearings held, fired Attorneys testify

Hearings were held in which the fired attorneys testified. During the March 6 testimony, former Arkansas attorney Bud Cummins testified to Congress (both the House and Senate) that he received threats from a senior Justice Department official that “warned him on Feb. 20 that the fired prosecutors should remain quiet about their dismissals.” [1] Cummins described the threats in an email to the other US Attorneys involved [2]. According to several of the fired U.S. Attorneys, this action amounts to “obstruction of justice.” [3]

During the March 6 testimony, fired Washington attorney John McKay said that Rep. Doc Hastings’ (R-Wash) senior staffer, Ed Cassidy, called him to inquire about whether or not any investigations were underway regarding voter fraud in the hotly-contested Washington gubernatorial race in 2004 (won by Democrat Christine Gregoire). [4]

During the call, McKay reminded Cassidy that calling to recommend a federal investigation would be improper. According to McKay, Cassidy "agreed it would be improper" and ended the call. McKay immediately told his staff about the call and agreed with them that "I had stopped Mr. Cassidy from doing anything improper." He continued, however, that he "was concerned and dismayed by the call." [5]

Also during his testimony, McKay said that when he made a bid to be a federal judge in 2006, he was asked by former White House counsel Harriet Miers and deputy counsel William Kelley to explain "criticism that (he) mishandled the 2004 governor's election." [6]

Additional hearing recap

"The New York Times reports that the former federal prosecutor in Maryland, Thomas M. DiBiagio, says that he was forced out in early 2005 because of political pressure stemming from public corruption investigations involving associates of the state's Republican governor.

  • Representative Doc Hastings releases a statement saying, 'Neither I nor any member of my staff - past or present - ever contacted anyone at the White House or the Department of Justice about whether John McKay should be removed as U.S. attorney or whether he was qualified to be a federal judge.'
  • U.S. Attorneys Daniel Bodgen (NV), Paul Charlton (AZ), Bud Cummins (AR), David Iglesias (NM), Carol Lam (CA), John McKay (WA), and Justice Department official William Moschella testify before Congress. All the fired prosecutors testify that they were never told they were being asked to step down because they performed poorly. Moschella admits that none of the prosecutors were told or warned about the supposed deficiencies in their performances before they were asked to step down.
  • Iglesias testifies that Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) called to question him about his office's corruption investigation of a prominent state Democrat shortly before the 2006 election.
  • McKay testifies that Rep. Doc Hastings' (R-WA) chief of staff called him after the 2004 election to ask whether his office was investigating allegations of Democratic voter fraud.
  • Cummins testifes that DoJ official Michael Elston called him on February 20th to say that if the fired prosecutors continued speaking out, the DoJ would have to release negative information about them.
  • Charlton and Bogden both testify that they were told by DoJ official Bill Mercer that they were being fired to make room for another Republican to build his/her resume."[7]

March 7, 2007: Domenici hires attorney

On March 7, 2007, Domenici hired Lee Blalack, formerly an attorney for former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-Calif.), as his legal counsel. [8]

March 7, 2007: Gonzales calls matter an "overblown personnel matter"

Alberto Gonzales called the scandal over the firings an "overblown personnel matter" in a USA Today editorial. Gonzales explains of the prosecutors that "they simply lost my confidence."[9]

March 7, 2007: McNulty meets privately with Committees, denies knowledge of firing process

Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty met privately with members of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, and claimed that he had only “limited knowledge” of the firing process.[10]

March 8, 2007: Gonzales does not oppose limiting interim prosecutors' tenure, Senate confirmation

In the midst of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, U.S. Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, speaking for the administration, agreed on March 8, 2007 to not oppose legislation limiting the term of interim prosecutors.[11] Gonzales also explained that the Bush administration would not oppose requiring all U.S. Attorneys to be confirmed by the Senate.

March 11, 2007: White House acknowledges Rove role in passing complaints to DOJ

The White House acknowledged that Karl Rove had passed complaints about some U.S. Attorneys from the White House to the Department of Justice.[12]

March 12, 2007: Sampson resigns

D. Kyle Sampson, who had reportedly led effort to fire the attorneys, resigned March 12, 2007, after he acknowledged that he mishandled the representation of the actions taken by the Department of Justice.[13] Among the information withheld was that the White House had been considering firing all 93 U.S. Attorneys as early as February 2005. Two weeks later he offered testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that directly contradicted Gonzales' claims of not being involved in the firings.

March 12, 2007: Kyl threatens to block the passage of the Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007

As late as March 12, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) indicated that he would block the bill if it came to the floor of the Senate, [14]

March 13, 2007: Gonzales defends DOJ

In a press conference, Gonzales defended the DOJ and his own actions: "I acknowledge that mistakes were made here. I accept that responsibility and my pledge to the American people is to find out what went wrong here." Regarding specific actions prior to the firings, Gonzales explained, "[I]n an organization of 110,000 people, I am not aware of every bit of information that passes through the halls of the Department of Justice, nor am I aware of all decisions....I was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on."[15]

March 14, 2007: Firings attributed to "lax voter-fraud" investigations

The Administration offered "lax voter-fraud" investigations as additional explanation for the firings. According to a May 14, 2007, report by the Washington Post based off of newly released Department of Justice documents and interviews, nearly half of the attorneys who were slated for removal were targets of Republican complaints that they were lax on voter fraud, including efforts by presidential adviser Karl Rove to encourage more prosecutions of election. [16]

March 14, 2007: Released emails show communication on RNC email servers about firings

E-mails released on March 14, 2007, showed that Jennings had "communicated with Justice officials about the appointment of Tim Griffin, a former Rove aide, to be the U.S. attorney in Little Rock. Jennings used an e-mail account registered to the Republican National Committee, where Griffin had worked as an opposition researcher."[17]

According to RNC spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt, "As a matter of course, the RNC provides server space and equipment to certain White House personnel in order to assist them with their political efforts," Eggen and Kane wrote.

"The revelation of the gwb43 e-mails illuminates the widespread exploitation of nongovernmental e-mail by Bush White House officials, which initially surfaced in the investigations and trial of convicted Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff," Blumenthal wrote. "Under the RNC's domain a myriad of e-mail accounts flourish, including the ones used by Rove's office to conduct his business with Abramoff. Among these accounts are ones for Republican Senate campaigns, for and the like, and, curiously, for The latter e-mail account serves the Web site of the defense fund of Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice. amounts to an in-kind contribution from the RNC."

Lots more on CP USA emails page

March 14, 2007: President Bush issues first public comments on firings

In President Bush's first public comments on the firings, he said that he maintained confidence in Gonzales, but that "I'm, frankly, not happy about it... Al was right, mistakes were made, and he's going to go up to Capitol Hill to correct them."

Bush vaguely explains that he had spoken with Gonzales about the U.S. Attorneys at some point: "And I did receive complaints about U.S. attorneys. I specifically remember one time I went up to the Senate and senators were talking about the U.S. attorneys. I don't remember specific names being mentioned, but I did say to Al last year -- you're right, last fall -- I said, have you heard complaints about AGs, I have -- I mean, U.S. attorneys, excuse me -- and he said, I have. But I never brought up a specific case nor gave him specific instructions."[18]

March 14, 2007: First Republican Senator calls for Gonzales' resignation

Senator John Sununu (R-N.H.) calls for Gonzales to resign, becoming the first Republican Senator to do so.[19]

Additional whole page of comments from Senators about AG resign or not

March 15, 2007: Additional subpoenas issued

The Senate Judiciary Committee widened the number of approved subpoenas to include several Department of Justice and White House officials.

March 15, 2007: Kyl relents threat to block legislation

As late as March 12, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) indicated that he would block the bill if it came to the floor of the Senate, [20] but had relented his threat by March 15. [21]

March 15, 2007: Second Republican Congressman calls for Gonzales' resignation

Senator Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) calls for Gonzales' resignation, becoming the second Republican Senator to do so.[22]

March 16, 2007: Sampson's attorney explains Sampson's actions, contracts Gonzales

Bradford Berenson, Sampson's lawyer, released a public statement contradicting statements Gonzales had made regarding Sampson's resignation: "Kyle did not resign because he had misled anyone at the Justice Department or withheld information concerning the replacement of U.S. Attorneys," but instead because he did not "organize a more effective political response." Regarding DOJ officials' unawareness about communication with the White House, Berenson added: "If this background was not called to Mr. McNulty or Mr. Moschella's attention, it was not because any of these individuals deliberately withheld it from them but rather because no one focused on it or deemed it important at the time."[23]

March 18, 2007: Leahy decries White House "half-truths"

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, stated that he was "sick and tired of getting half-truths" from the White House on this issue.

March 19, 2007: Goodling takes indefinite Leave of Absence

Monica Goodling takes an indefinite Leave of Absence.[24]

March 19, 2007: Emails released with eighteen-day gap

The White House released 3,000 documents of correspondence with an eighteen-day lull between November 15 and December 4, 2006. (CP text)

March 19, 2007:Snow says nothing wrong with discussion of Lam's status

In a press conference, Tony Snow said there was nothing extraordinary about Sampson discussing the need to remove Carol Lam the day after she told DOJ she intended to execute search warrants against Foggo and Wilkes. Snow said emails demonstrate concern with Lam's immigration work beginning in January, 2005.[25]

March 20, 2007: White House offers private interviews without oaths or transcripts

The White House offered to grant members of Congress private interviews with administration officials without oaths or transcripts. Democrats rejected the offer.ref>Elana Schor, "Dems reject Bush offer on Karl Rove," The Hill, March 21, 2007.</ref>

March 20, 2007: Bush to oppose any effort to subpoena staffers

On March 20, 2007, the White House offered to grant members of Congress private interviews with administration officials, such as Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, and two of their deputies, conducted with neither oaths nor transcripts. Democrats rejected the offer and President George W. Bush vowed later that day to oppose any efforts to subpoena White House staff members. Meanwhile, Democrats continued to move forward in the subpoena process.[26]

March 20, 2007: Feinstein act passes Senate

On March 20, 2007, the Preserving United States Attorney Independence Act of 2007 passed the Senate by a vote of 94-2.[27]

March 20, 2007: White House offers compromise on staff testimony

White House Counsel Fred Fielding offers the Senate Judiciary Committee a compromise: White House staff members Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, William Kelley and Scott Jennings will testify as long as:

  • The testimonies are executed in a closed-door session,
  • No transcript is kept of the meeting, and
  • The staff members are not under oath.

Senator Patrick Leahy, representing the committee, rejects, the offer:

I don't accept his offer. It is not constructive and it is not helpful to be telling the Senate how to do our investigation, or to prejudge its outcome.... Instead of freely and fully providing relevant documents to the investigating committees, they have only selectively sent documents, after erasing large portions that they do not want to see the light of day. Testimony should be on the record, and under oath.[28]

March 20, 2007: President Bush holds a press conference to address the scandal

During a press conference on the scandal, President Bush:

  • Reaffirmed his support for Gonzales, while agreeing that Gonzales will return to the Congress committees to clarify recent information,
  • Confirmed the compromise presented by Fielding, and
  • Announced his intention to challenge Congress' right to subpoena non-Cabinet members of his staff.[29]

March 21, 2007: Subpoenas approved for top-level administration officials

The House Judiciary Committee approved subpoenas for top-level White House staff members.

March 21, 2007: Iglesias authors "Why I Was Fired" editorial

David Iglesias writes an editorial for The New York Times entitled, "Why I Was Fired."[30]

March 26, 2007: Goodling pleads the fifth, refuses to testify

On March 26, 2007, Monica Goodling, the senior counselor to Gonzales and Department of Justice liaison to the White House who was on an "indefinite leave of absence," refused to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Goodling threatened to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights to not incriminate herself, stating it necessary because of the political environment surrounding the investigations. Pleading the Fifth also implies a legal violation has occurred by that individual, necessitating the need to not self-incriminate.[31]

March 28, 2007: Committees urge release of all relevant White House emails

On March 28, 2007, Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) urged the White House to turn over all relevant e-mails to the House and Senate Judiciary committees for their investigations. The offer came up amidst allegations that White House staffers had been using private email accounts to conduct government business in order to keep the information private. [32]

March 28, 2007: Acting Assistant Attorney General explains contradictory testimony

"Acting Assistant Attorney General Hertling sends a letter to Congress admitting that assertions in his February 23rd letter to Senators, 'are contradicted by Department documents included in our production in connectino with the Committees' review of the resignations of US Attorneys.'

An email from Kyle Sampson shows him suggesting that the passage, "I am not aware of Karl Rove playing any role in the Attorney General's decision to appoint Griffin" be added to Hertling's letter. This is in contrast to Sampson's email claiming that the appointment of Tim Griffin was, 'important to Harriet, Karl, etc.'"[33]

March 29, 2007: Sampson testifies, refuting Gonzales' claims

On March 29, 2007, Sampson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Throughout the course of the hearing, Sampson stated that Gonzales knew of the plan, refuting Gonzales' earlier denial of previous knowledge, and that Iglesias, one of the fired attorneys, was not added to the list of attorneys to be fired until shortly before the 2006 November elections. [34]

March 30, 2007: Deal over private, transcribed interviews reached

The House Judiciary Committee and the Department of Justice reached an agreement to conduct private transcribed interviews with former and current DOJ employees.

March 30, 2007: Goodling reiterates plan to plead the fifth

Monica Goodling reiterates her plans to plead the Fifth to the House Judiciary Committee.

March 30, 2007: Responsibility for firings attributed to McNulty, says former Chief of Staff

Michael Elston, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty's Chief of Staff, met with congressional staff from both the House and Senate, and claimed that he called three fired US Attorneys at the direction of McNulty.[35]

April 3, 2007: Conyers asks for cooperation from Goodling

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers issued a letter asking for Goodling's cooperation.

April 4, 2007: Goodling's attorneys call investigation McCarthyist

Following pressure from Congress to openly testify about the scandal, Goodling's attorneys called the investigation McCarthyist.

April 6, 2007: Goodling resigns

On April 6, 2007, Goodling resigned from her position at the Department of Justice. [36]

User:Herschel Nachlis USA markup4

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles


  1. Email From Cummins to Attorneys
  2. Email From Cummins to Attorneys
  3. Susan Crabtree, "Senior aide implicated," The Hill, March 7, 2007.
  4. Laurie Kellman, "Fired Attorneys Allude to Justice Threat," The Guardian, March 7, 2007.
  5. "McKay: Hastings' office called about probing Gregoire's election," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 6, 2007.
  6. Paul Kiel, "Washington Republicans Chased Ousted Prosecutor," TPM Muckraker, March 7, 2007.
  7. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  8. Paul Kiel, "Domenici Lawyers Up," TPM Muckraker, March 7, 2007.
  9. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  10. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  11. "Gonzales Yields On Hiring Interim U.S. Attorneys," Washington Post, March 9, 2007.
  12. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  13. "Transcript from Sampson's Senate Judiciary Committee Testimony," Washington Post, March 29, 2007.
  14. Van Dongen, Rachel. "U.S. Attorneys Bill Still Faces GOP Opposition," Roll Call, March 12, 2007.
  15. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  16. Dan Eggen and Amy Goldstein, "Voter-Fraud Complaints by GOP Drove Dismissals," Washington Post, May 14, 2007.
  17. Dan Eggen and Paul Kane, reported Washington Post March 14, 2007.
  18. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  19. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  20. Van Dongen, Rachel. "U.S. Attorneys Bill Still Faces GOP Opposition," Roll Call, March 12, 2007.
  21. Kiel, Paul. "U.S. Attorney Bill Coming up Tuesday," TPM Muckraker, March 15, 2007.
  22. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  23. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  24. Laurie Kellman, Gonzales aide to invoke Fifth Amendment, MyWay News (Associated Press), March 26, 2007.
  25. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  26. Elana Schor, "Dems reject Bush offer on Karl Rove," The Hill, March 21, 2007.
  27. Yost, Pete and Lara Jakes Jordan. "Senate OKs Limits on Gonzales' Authority," Associated Press, March 20, 2007.
  28. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  29. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  30. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  31. Dan Eggen, "Aide to Gonzales Won't Testify," Washington Post, March 27, 2007.
  32. Jeremy Jacobs, "Judiciary Chairmen urge White House cooperation," The Hill, March 28, 2007.
  33. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  34. Dan Eggen and Paul Kane, "Ex-Aide Contradicts Gonzales on Firings," Washington Post, March 30, 2007.
  35. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.
  36. Susan Crabtree, "Despite resignation, Conyers still wants Goodling to testify," The Hill, April 6, 2007.

External articles

[1] Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.

External resources

  1. Will Thomas, "U.S. Attorney Purge Timeline," Talking Points Memo, May 14, 2007.