Monday, April 16, 2007

ABC News: EXCLUSIVE: Gonzales Contradicts His Own Testimony

ABC News: EXCLUSIVE: Gonzales Contradicts His Own Testimony:

"'AG [Attorney General] has given additional thought to the San Diego situation and now believes that we should adopt a plan' that would lead to her removal if she 'balks' at immigration reform, Sampson wrote."

"If she balks on any of the foregoing or otherwise does not perform in a measurable way … remove her," Sampson wrote of Gonzales' suggested plan. "AG then appoints new U.S. [attorney] from outside the office."
Justice Department official William W. Mercer told congressional investigators on April 11 that he attended a meeting with the attorney general days later to discuss Lam's situation, according to congressional sources. During the meeting, Mercer told Gonzales he was "very concerned" with the problems regarding Lam.

In an e-mail released in the recent document dump from Capitol Hill, Mercer's calendar includes a notation for a 3 p.m. meeting on June 5 -- four days after Sampson's e-mail -- with the attorney general, Sampson, Mercer and Jeff Taylor. The subject of the meeting is listed as "Immigration Enforcement/San Diego USAO [U.S. attorney's office]."

Interestingly, in an e-mail six months earlier, Sampson listed Taylor, who was then a top aide to Gonzales, as a possible replacement for Lam's seat. Taylor was later appointed U.S. attorney in Washington.

ABC News via Think Progress

Update from NY Times:

In his interview, Mr. Sampson said under oath that Mr. Gonzales took part in discussions last fall about David C. Iglesias, who was removed as the United States attorney in New Mexico, as well as in a June 2006 meeting that addressed concerns about Carol C. Lam, the United States attorney ousted from her job in San Diego, said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York. Mr. Sampson made similar statements in public testimony to the Judiciary Committee on March 29, but appeared to offer more specifics in the interview.

Mr. Gonzales said in an interview with NBC News on March 26 that he did not recall a White House meeting held in the fall. White House officials confirmed the meeting and that President Bush raised concerns at it about a lack of aggressive voter-fraud investigations in three states, including New Mexico.

“I don’t remember that conversation,” Mr. Gonzales said in the NBC interview. “During the process there may have been other conversations about specifically about the performance of U.S. attorneys. But I wasn’t involved in the deliberations as to whether or not a particular United States attorney should or should not be asked to resign.”

Mr. Schumer said Monday that Mr. Sampson recalled that in early March, Mr. Gonzales had told him about the White House conversation — the first time, Mr. Sampson said, that he learned of the president’s concern. Mr. Sampson’s lawyer, Bradford A. Berenson, declined to comment on the interview.

According to Mr. Schumer, Mr. Sampson said he believed Mr. Gonzales had attended a June 2006 meeting in which Ms. Lam’s removal was discussed. Another official, William W. Mercer, the acting associate attorney general, recalled with greater certainty that Mr. Gonzales was at the meeting, Mr. Schumer said.

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