Sen. Leahy moving foward with Patriot Act discussion. And now on to Sen. Schumer.
SEN. SCHUMER QUESTIONS: You realize that if he were fired as USAtty, and that there was a general consensus that he couldn't continue as Special Prosecutor. Sampson says that he doesn't know that for a fact. (CHS says: Despite what Schumer says, there are provisions for that to continue, but that's an argument for another day.)
Was Miers comfortable with you being in charge of the firing of USAs after you made that statement? Sampson says "I don't know." Schumer says that it makes him think that Sampson's judgment ought to have been called into question for this job. Sampson says that he realized it was inappropriate immediately after he said it.
Schumer — did it occur to you that the same thought process that caused you to question the Fitzgerald suggestion might apply to the question of USAs such as Carol Lam, who were putting public corruption cases forward. Sampson says no. (Schumer going on the "public perception of trying to stop an investigation." Sampson not getting where he's going on this.)
Now there is a bit of a dance on the Rove interest in Griffen being appointed and the DoJ letter that said he wasn't. Sampson says he drafted the letter thinking that he wasn't sure that Rove was interested. Says he circulated it widely to be certain that others thought it was accurate as well. Schumer pointing out various inconsistencies between what Sampson just said and his own e-mails on this point.
Sampson says that he doesn't remember any conversations with Rove or any of the people who worked for or with him – he doesn't think it happened — whether Rove had anything to do with the suggestion that Fitzgerald be fired. Schumer points out that that's not exactly a definite answer. (CHS notes: on my HDTV, it sure looks like Sampson's bald spot is getting quite pink as this line of questioning is going forward.)
SEN. HATCH QUESTIONS: Vouching for how forthcoming that Sampson has been, and then saying that Lam being fired for prosecuting a political corruption case is just hooey. Don't you think, Mr. Sampson? Sampson says "to my knowledge, it did not." (CHS notes: well, that wasn't exactly definitive either, was it.) Hatch then putting forward some smack Iglesias talking points forward, fromhis appearance on Meet The Press. Was the Iglesias firing a "political hit?" Sampson says "not to my knowledge…I don't remember anyone…uhhh…I don't remember anything of the sort."
Now they are discussing the political/performance criteria being an artificial distinction. Sampson says they were singled out because there were questions about them raised, and some of those factors might be considered political. Was Iglesias asked to resign because of performance? Sampson says yes. Hatch now walking through the GOP talking points of what the meaning of Performance Issues and Political are. (CHS notes: Hatch is wearing a particularly unattractive bright orange tie today with a bright blue and white striped shirt and gray suit. I needed to say that for the record because on the new HDTV, it is particularly egregious.)
Hatch now vouching for the Goodling taking of the 5th as being appropriate and that no inference maybe drawn thereon. (In response to the Whitehouse comments earlier.) (CHS notes: Hatch would be absolutely correct if he were talking about an accused, but Whitehouse may be correct with regard to just a witness who is not an accused. It's kind of a fine argument line there, and the attorneys in the reading audience can haggle thereon.)
Hatch: were these USAs fired for political reasons to thwart an investigation or prosecution? Sampson says "to my knowledge, no."
Hatch: Let's talk about the insertion of a Patriot Act provision. Was your question about end-running the change in procedure — DoJ documents say it began at least as early as 12/03. DoJ did not ask for this change in the Patriot Act be made until 2005. Was your initiative to change Patriot Act motivated in any way by the desire to change USAs? Sampson talks about a district in South Dakota, and some issue with an appointment there. Sampson says that was the impetus to seek the change.
Now back to Sen. Feinstein. And, my apologies gang, but I have to go and pick up The Peanut from preschool shortly. If someone can keep this up in the comments as the hearing is ongoing, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks much!
By Christy Hardin Smith @ 12:21 pm
***BREAKING: The Senate GOP has objected to the Judiciary Committee hearing continuing during open business on the Senate floor. It's a procedural maneuver allowed under the rules. The Judiciary Committee will be in recess until further notice.***
***Back up and running again. Well, "confusion in the cloak room" is a new one on me. *g* (H/T Raw Story.)
1:55 pm ET: Hearing back in session. Sampson clarifying whether he spoke to Bush about this issue. Remembered at lunch that he had spoken to Bush sometime in 2005 at a "meet and greet" for Roberts in 2005. Leahy says he appreciates the clarification because he was also there. Kyl asks if Leahy had words with the President — and Leahy reponds that he did, and with the Vice President on occasion. (Laughter in the gallery.) Kyl says they won't go into what words.
SEN. KYL QUESTIONS: Going to ask some questions about USA in AZ, Paul Charlton. Sampson thinks he is a fine man and a great lawyer. Primary reason he was asked to resign? Policy reasons with the department? Concerns related to death penalty and recording of interrogations, department-wide policy. Kyl says that Charlton had a running dispute on death penalty issues and wanting the FBI to record confessions which was cntrary to FBI policy. Did Charlton continue to press his point of view after the AG had made his decision? Sampson said yes, and he thinks that the term "underperformance" has led to confusion. Kyl says there is a difference where there is a policy decision, and where you suggest that it was "underperformance" — wouldn't you agree that this is almost a challenge for any good lawyer to come forward and challenge that characterization? Sampson says yes.
Kyl says it should have been characterized as policy differences, and not as underperformance? Sampson says yes.
To his knowledge there was no one waiting to be appointed for that spot once Charlton was asked to step down? Sampson says no, and to his knowledge no one yet set for that postiion. Any suggestion in AZ that Charlton be removed for any political corruption case pending? Sampson says to his knowledge, no. Lack of involvement? Sampson says no — he was aggregator of input and resources, and he doesn't recall anyone putting those reasons forward with regard to Charlton.
In e-mail (#61) you wrote "Sen. Kyl is fine." Were you aware that I asked McNulty to reconsider that request for resignation? Sampson says that he wasn't aware of that — to his knowledge that Kyl understood that this was the decision. Kyl says that the AG called him 12/7 — Kyl says that he expressed shock and dismay about Charlton being dismissed, and when Kyl met with McNulty at his request, asked McNulty to reconsider and ask Charlton to reconsider. Sampson not aware of that.
#168 and #169: Were you involved? Looking for copies of the document for Sampson to review. Sampson says he didn't prepare this document. Judiciary in the House prepared this, Kyl thinks. Something about Charlton working outside proper channels — Sampson thinks it was prepared by DoJ in advance of testimony, in preparation for testimony with regard to Charlton's firing. Some vague recollection about something dealing with Ashcroft. Kyl thinks this may have been with regard to some questions that Kyl was asking to get more resources for Charlton.