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Those pesky gaps…

It’s Rose Mary Woods all over again (for those of you too young to remember her place in history, click here)…

Can you believe this — there’s an 18-day gap in the email data dump released by the Justice Department regarding the Gonzales/U.S. attorney firing scandal. The gap is between November 15 and December 4, 2006. The calls to fire the U.S. attorneys went out on December 7th, but the original idea was for those calls to occur on November 15th, according to Josh Marshall. Emails during that period clearly would be of interest to the House Judiciary Committee.

Tony Snow didn’t handle the question of the gap very well at the press briefing.

Q Now there’s one e-mail from November 15th that says, from Mr. Sampson to Harriet Miers, I believe, who will determine whether this requires the president’s attention?

MR. SNOW: Right.

Q And then there’s a gap in e-mails. Was there any, perhaps any e-mails about the president in there? And did the president have to sign off on this? Because the question was raised —

MR. SNOW: The president has no recollection of this ever being raised with him.

…Q Tony, just for the record, this gap between mid-November and early December, is there a gap because there are no e-mails pertaining to this situation between then, or are there more e-mails to come out between then?

MR. SNOW: That I don’t know. Like I said, that’s why I think you need to go back and ask the Department of Justice. They’ve done the document production. We have not been in charge of it. I would refer questions to them.

Q Just to follow, could you say again for the record that the president has no recollection of ever being asked about any of this?

MR. SNOW: Yeah, the removal of — yes, that is correct.

He didn’t handle the rest of the questions about the response to the prospect of subpoenas, or what the President has to hide either. It’s laughable.

Q So were his advisers really advising him on this, or is this really privileged communication involving the president and his advisers if the president wasn’t looped in, you’re saying, on this decision. So were other people —

MR. SNOW: Well, that’s — that also falls into the “intriguing question” category.

Q Well — but I mean —

MR. SNOW: No, you’re asking — you’re asking me to — look, Ed, there are a number of complex legal considerations in here and I’m not going to try to play junior lawyer. These are the sort of things that people are going to have an opportunity to talk about.

Q Well, you have it both ways. You’re saying the president wasn’t in the loop —

MR. SNOW: No —

Q — but you just cite executive privilege for the president’s communications.

MR. SNOW: No, what you are saying is are conversations that didn’t take place privileged? Well, no, they didn’t take place.

Q So what are you protecting?

MR. SNOW: No, we’re not — what we’re trying to do is to protect the ability of the American people see folks in Washington get at the truth without, in fact, engaging in the kind of unseemly partisanship that has too often been a factor in recent political life.

I highly advise that you read the whole tortuous meltdown. This is a White House in crisis.


Checking out the Blend archives, it looks like the White House has a penchant for delay (and destroy?) when it comes producing evidence when their asses are in the fire.  Read more after the flip.In July 2005 post related to the leak of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, Bushies more like the Nixon WH every day, I wondered whether Gonzales held a shredding party. (SFGate):

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said on Sunday that he immediately told White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card — but delayed telling others — when the Justice Department launched an investigation into who leaked the identity of a CIA operative.

Gonzales, who at the time was White House counsel, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he waited until the next morning to discuss the issue with President Bush and to formally notify the rest of the White House staff, requiring them to preserve any materials connected to the investigation.

…A New York Times columnist reported on Sunday that Gonzales was notified about the investigation on the night of Sept. 29, 2003, but waited 12 hours before telling the White House staff about the inquiry.

Asked about the report on CBS, Gonzales said his office was notified about the investigation at about 8:00 p.m. and that he had his staff “go back to the Department of Justice lawyers and ask them, ‘Do you want us to notify the staff now, immediately, or would it be OK to notify the staff early in the morning?”‘

“And we were advised, go ahead and notify the staff early in the morning, that would be OK,” Gonzales said. “Most of the staff had gone home. No one knew about the investigation.”

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding