Please keep comments on point and think before you post — the faster the comments go, the faster I have to start a new thread, and that disrupts the flow of the liveblogging.  Thanks.


SEN. CORNYN QUESTIONS: I've known you for a long time, and I think you are a nice guy, but this investigation has been realy deplorable.  You say that the process is flawed and that you made mistakes in managing it.  How should you have done this, if at all?  AG says that the review was apporpriate, frankly — we should make improvements.  Looking back, would have had the DeputyAG more involved.  Should have told Sampson who to consult with, and should have said who should be included.  "I should have told him the factors that I thought were important."  (CHS notes:  Yeah, you think?  you think that your subordinate, charged with firing USAs, ought to have known what your concerns were before he put together a list of people to be fired from their jobs?  Jeebus.)   USAs do not want a formal evaluation process — they want to report directly to the DAG and to others in the chain.  Instituting a formal process wouldn't be fair to the President — but it ought to have been more structured as a process.  Cornyn then goes on to the Clinton replacement of USAs.  Going itno all the rationalizations on this — says that McNulty said that a four year rationale was fronted and wouldn't that have been a better rationale "thanks for your four years of service and now it is someone else's turn."  AG says that once they said performace, they should have defined that.  (CHS notes:  the employment lawyers in the audience are now sitting with their mouths open in astonishment.  That is an appalling statement.)  Cornyn says that invariably when someone's performance is placed at issue, they feel obliged to defend themselves — and because of doing this publicly, they have had to do so publicly.  Then scolds the House for looking into the fact that there may be other questions about other USAs and related politicization matters.  Cornyn now getting into the two jailed border patrol agents due to many constituent questions about it.  AG says it is hard for him to answer questions about this case.  Trusts judgment of the prosecutor, and that the jury agreed with the prosecution on this, but gosh border patrol agents sure are brave and swell.  These border patrol agents broke the law and tried to hide their crime.  AG says the department will fully coooperate on this if you have additional questions.  Cornyn wants an oversight hearing on this prosecution.

SEN. LEAHY FOLLOWS UP:  Sen. Cornyn asked about the 93 prosecutors Clinton replaced, and Leahy makes the point that Carter replaced Ford's, Reagan replaced Carter's, Bush I replaced most of Reagan's, Clinton replaced Bush's and then Bush II replaced Clintons's — so that isn't unusual at the start of a Presidential term of office is it? 

SEN. FEINGOLD QUESTIONS:  Goes back to the Georgia Thompson prosecution.  Feingold goes over the appeals court criticism of the weakness of this case, and asks about how the public is asking questions of politicization of the process.  AG says this was a career prosecutor and atarts making excuses.  Feingold makes point that he's not asking about this specific prosecutor but rather talking about how this overall was mishandled and how that now taints the entire process whether or not there was wrongdoing — and how that impacts USAs across the country.  AG demurs.  When can we expect a response to the letter and the request for production of documents letter?  AG says it's a recent request (CHS notes:  that has been an ongoing and outstanding request for months), and they are working on it.  Feingold says he hopes they do.  Then asks about how he followed up with Sampson on how he should or should not consultwith the WH and folks in the DoJ?  AG says he told Sampson to check with WH and senior folks at the DoJ.  Feingold asks if he checked back with Sampson?  I don't recall.  Did you ask for specifics from Sampson on how this was done and decisions were made?  I don't recall, but I don't recall being surprised by 5 names on the list?  Did you talk with Dep. AG McNulty about whether he was comfortable with the process?  I don't recall such a conversation, but afterwards I may have.  Did you tak with the head of the EOUSAs or anyone else about whether the process was appropriate that Sampson had undertaken?  AG says he recalls talking with Sampson.  Did you request a written memo or report giving justifications of each of these firings?  No, didn't ask.  Given that you had so little effort in making the decisions of the basis of these firing recommendations, and that you had so little involvement in the process itself, you had no basis for saying that you had lost confidence in these USAs' performace, did you?  Those recommendations, I thought, were the consensus view of our senior leadership.  Feingold then takes him to task for allowing a statement to sit out there that had no factual basis, harming the reputations of these individuals.  AG says that he is not aware of any information out there in the documents given to Congress as well as in any statement given that there was anything improper involved.  Feingold says he appreciates that sentiment, but that the AG doesn't know today how these decisions were made, do you?  AG says that he thinks these were the right decisions but that they should have been made differently.  Feingold says he's going to take that as a "no" to the question he actually asked.  That various justifications have been made up after the fact doesn't cut it with me.  Gonzales says that there is some documentation that they have found on all of these USAs.  There may be other evidence or information in the minds of other fact witnesses that you have access to, that I don't have access to, that says otherwise.  Feingold says that there is no information in the record that you had any of this information in front of you when you made the decisions — that the information provided to the COmmittee does not show that.

SEN. SESSIONS QUESTIONS:  A lot of us were concerned about your press conference at the DoJ, and you stated that you were not involved — and then in a later presser you said you didn't recall being involved in decisionmaking.  But Sampson has testified that there was a final meeting where this was discussed in sme detail and that you were present.  AG says that he has searched his memory, but he has no recollection of the meeting, but his calendar shows that he was there and that there were others there:  Moschella, Battle, Goodling, Sampson, and AG.  Sessions says that this wan't that long ago — November of last year.  AG says Nov. 27th.  Sampson says that he understood that it was a big decision, and that there might be political ramifications.  AG says that he can only testify as to what he recalls.  At some point Sampson gave him the recommendations and that the AG at some point understood what they were, but he doesn't remember them now.  Sessions points out that there are significant differences between AG's recollections and those of Battle, among others.  AG says he was also tied up with National Meth Awareness Day and other things during that period of time.  You indicated that you made a call to Sen. Kyl — AG says that was on Dec. 7th, the day that the plan was being implemented.

With regard to Iglesias, there were concerns about vote fraud in New Mexico.  Feingold has raised questions as has Cornyn.  Nothing wrong with questioning the judgment of a USA — but I think that USAs were entitled to someone talking to them about the problems.  Iglesias should have had someone talk to him about the problems — someone should have met with him to ascertain his judgment on particular matters.  Sessions says that perhaps it is difficult, but if you had a problem with how Iglesias or someone else is doing, they ought to have an opportunity to explain themselves.  Apparently there was a suggestion from Miers that everyone ought to be fired and start fresh — AG says he doesn't remember if it was Miers idea or someone else's.  AG says that he rejected the idea.  New appointments were to be made under the new no oversight provision in the Patriot Act.  Gonzales now saying that he never liked this idea — that the officials needed to be approved by Senate, that this made them stronger to get outside confirmation.  Thinks that provision was a dumb idea.  Talks about Griffen and discussions with Sen. Pryor.   Says Pryor was not going to support Griffen.

SEN. LEAHY FOLLOWUP:  Says that AG doesn't recall the meeting where the decisions was made, so how does he know that he made the decisions?  AG says that he recalls making the decision.  Leahy says they'll certainly get back to this.

New thread will be up here momentarily.

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com