Friday, April 13, 2007

A.G.'s spokeswoman: 'We are trying to muddy the coverage up a bit'

Tasia Scolinos, the attorney general's spokeswoman, provided some insight into the Justice Department's public-relations activities in a March 5 message about the furor surrounding the removal of the prosecutors. Below is an excerpt from the documents that the committee released, with emphasis added to the part where Scolinos says she wants to "muddy the coverage":

In preparation for tomorrow's hearing where six of the dismissed US Attorneys will be testifying, we have drafted some talking points that we were going to insert into Will Moschella's testimony (the DOJ witness) that get out the message that although we stand by the decision to remove these folks the process by which they were informed was not optimal. Right now the coverage will be dominated by how qualified these folks were and their theories for their dismissals. We are trying to muddy the coverage up a bit by trying to put the focus on the process in which they were told - I suspect we are going to get to the point where DOJ has to say this anyway. First, it is true. Second, we are having morale problems with our other US Attorneys who understand the decision but think that these folks were not treated well in the process. I think from an internal management perspective it needs to be said.

We are also discussing internally if we can/should release more information about why these folks were let go if we can address the privacy act aspects. I think it cuts both ways - it does prolong the story in a sense because I suspect that the US Attorneys will just go away at some point when they feel they have vindicated their reputations. On the other hand, I don't know if the Senate Dems will let this go until it is all out in the open. Let me know your thoughts. Thanks.

(Interesting tidbit: Scolinos worked for Judge Lance Ito during the O.J. Simpson murder trial.)

Update at 2:34 p.m. ET: Right before another official testified about the firings on Capitol Hill, Scolinos wrote in a March 6 e-mail that she was "concerned that the format of this dribbling out in questions may muddy things a bit. The DAG said that they are actively working with the members to tee the right questions up but I am a bit concerned on this same point and am pushing Will to be aware of this when he is up there."

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