Monday, March 26, 2007

I didn't do anything wrong because I didn't do anything wrong

Nonsense and more nonsense

from MSNBC interview with Gonzales this afternoon:

Williams: The — so the list came to you toward the end for you to sign off on. But you were not involved in deciding who should be on or off the list during the process?

Gonzales: I was not involved in the deliberations during the process as to who-- who should or should not be — asked to resign.

Williams: If that —

Gonzales: I depended on the people who knew about how those United States attorneys — were performing — people within the department — who — who would have personal knowledge of — about these individuals, who would have, based upon their experience, would know what — what would be the appropriate standards that a United States Attorney should be asked to — to achieve.

Williams: Given that, then how can you be certain that none of these U.S. Attorneys were put on that list for improper reasons?

Gonzales: What I can say is this: I know the reasons why I asked you — these United States attorneys to leave. And it — it was not for improper reasons. It was not to interfere with the public corruption case. It was not for partisan reasons. I also — we also know that there's nothing in the documents that indicates that they were asked to leave for improper reasons. But all — but lastly, just to be sure, I have asked for an internal — review by the Office of Professional Responsibility, working with the Office of Inspector General. And, of course, the Congress is going to be doing its own review because I want to know as well if, in fact, there were improper reasons, we — we should know about it. And there will be accountability.

Williams: To put this question another way — if you didn't review their performance during this process, then how can you be certain that they were fired for performance reasons?

Gonzales: I — I've given — I've given the answer to the question, Pete. I know — I know the reasons why I made the decision. Again, there's nothing in the documents to support the allegation that there was anything improper here. And there is an internal — department review to answer that question, to reassure the — the American people that there was nothing improper that happened here.

Williams: Given that, how difficult is it going to be — you just said there's a shortage of documentation here. How hard is it going to be to make the case to Congress that they were not fired for improper reasons if there isn't a lot of documentation on the reasons they were put on the list?

Gonzales: I didn't — I don't think that I said there was a shortage of documentation. Listen, what I will say is this. The — the — the evaluations of individual United States attorneys is — is not solely contained within the documents.
Obviously, people have personal observations, personal views that may not be reflected in those documents. Those will — will be presented — to the Congress at the appropriate time.


from the same interview:

Williams: Can you answer some of the questions that have come up over the weekend? As you know, there was a — an email that came out Friday night that showed that ten days before the firings there was a meeting in your office which you attended to discuss the firings. And yet when you talked to us here at the Justice Department two weeks ago, you said you were not involved in any discussions about the firings. Can you — can you explain what seems like a contradiction?

Gonzales: Let — let me just say — a wise senator recently told me that when you say something that is either being misunderstood or can be misunderstood, you need to try to correct the record and make the record clear. Let me try to be more precise about my involvement. When I said on March 13th that I wasn't involved, what I meant was that I — I had not been involved, was not involved in the deliberations over whether or not United States attorneys should resign.

After I became attorney general, I had Kyle Samson coordinate a department review of the performance of United States attorneys. And I expected him to — to consult with appropriate Department of Justice officials who had information and knowledge about the performance of United States attorneys. From time to time, Mr. Samson would tell me something that would confirm in my mind that that process was ongoing.

For example, I recall him mention to me that — inquiry from the White House about where were we in — in identifying underperformers? And there are other similar type reminders that occurred during this process that I'm going to discuss specifically with the Congress. I was never focused on specific concerns about United States attorneys as to whether or not they should be asked to resign. I was more focused on identify — or making sure that the White House was a prop — was appropriately advised of the progress of our review.

And I was also concerned to ensure that the appropriate Department of Justice officials, people who know — knew about the performance of — of United States attorneys, that they were involved in the process.


U.S. News has a different story if its scoop turns out to be right (also from TPM, of course):

When Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee this Thursday about the controversial firings of eight U.S. attorneys, he's unlikely to throw any big bombs at the Bush administration that are of the magnitude of a direct link between Bush's political advisor Karl Rove and the dismissals, a close associate of Sampson's tells U.S. News. But Sampson will set off some fireworks by contradicting a key assurance that Gonzales made to Congress and the American public last Tuesday that he was not in the loop during the long deliberations leading up to the firings.

Gonzales probably spoke to Sampson 20 times a day, and had a morning management meeting daily on a range of issues with Sampson and other key officials also involved in the U.S. Attorney deliberations. Gonzales had delegated the replacement plan for U.S. Attorneys largely to Sampson and was monitoring it at "the 30,000 feet level," Sampson's associate says. But Sampson will testify that the Attorney General not only discussed the idea while he was still White House counsel and signed off at the end, but also was "aware of the arc of the whole process" in between, says this source. "The idea that there were no discussions on this overall issue," says the source, "the Attorney General could not have meant to say that."

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