Alberto Gonzales Testimony, Part VII
And a gentle reminder to please keep comments on topic to the proceedings — the more one-liners and off-topic comments that fill the thread, the faster I have to change up due to server load, and that disrupts the flow of the liveblogging. So please, think whether it is necessary before you comment — impulse control is our server's best friend. Thanks much!
SEN. KYL QUESTIONS: Kyl agrees with what Whitehouse says. AG says that the do not want to send the message that prosecutors should not follow the evidence and prosecute. Kyl asks whether there has been any difference in how things are prosecuted? AG says not to his knowledge, but that he has limited information on how this is handled in individual USA office, for good reason. Kyl then tweaks Schumer for what he regards as an incorrect conspiracy standard being raised. Kyl wants to thank the AG about crime victims rights — and wants to get the AG's help in setting up a meeting on that. And then talks about internet gaming prosecutions. (CHS notes: Talk about your off-topic blather…and it goes on and on and on.)
SEN. LEAHY QUESTIONS: Late last week, we learned that a number of e-mails, including those from Karl Rove, were on RNC servers and that they may have been lost. Rove's attorney (Luskin) has suggested that Patrick Fitzgerald might have those e-mails from his investigation. If the DoJ has that information, what would we have to do to get those e-mails? Gonzales doesn't know about this. Leahy asks whether the committee could get those? We aren't talking about e-mails from the President, he doesn't use e-mail as I understand it? Gonzales says if they were transmitted over RNC servers, the WH might still have an interest. The WH Counsel's office responsible for this, you were there for 4 years, what was the policy and practice for WH employees using RNC and other outside e-mail accounts to use official WH/government business? AG says that there were a few people who used outside equipment — done to avoid problems with the Hatch Act. Intent of the policy was for those e-mails to be used for non-governmental purposes but if there were governmental transactions, that the communication ought to be preserved. AG says he thinks that the policy was that it should have been preserved — printed or forwarded througha government server. WH spokesperson has said close to 50 people had this equipment? As WH counel did you audit this or review it at all? Is anyone investigating this issue now? AG says that he thinks the counsel's office may be looking to see what happened here based on what he's said, but hasn't spoken to the WH Counsel's Office about this. Leahy says that you have been AG since 2005, have you done anything to make sure that Mr. Rove or his deputies have not used outside accounts for official government business. What was Goodling's role in choosing attorneys for termination? AG says he doesn't know everything she did. She, in essence, supported Mr. Sampson — she was WH liaison for the office. Have you told us all that you can recall, because there is a loack of discussion about conversations with Miers and Rove, among others? The AG says that he suspects that the committee members know more about what happened than he did with their review of al the materials. Ag says that he's told the committee everything he can remember. AG can't recall specifically the President telling him to fire a USAtty. Leahy says he wants to know which statement is the accurate one — goes through a litany of statements which all contain conflicting information. Which is the accurate statement? AG says that he hasn't intentionally said different things, and he accepts responsibility for his misstatements.
SEN. SPECTER QUESTIONS: Wants to talk about VT and threats to public safety. Wants to talk about amendments to law. (CHS notes: Am detecting a new GOP off-topic questioning strategy designed to emphasize all of the issues that the AG has to deal with on a day to day basis. It is the Scooter Libby my hard job hurts my brain defense all over again.) Now on to National Security Letters and the Patriot Act powers being misused. What have you done to make certain that these problems have been corrected? AG says he has asked the FBI and the national security division to work together to find out what happened — involved in the oversight and auditing of field offices so we have a better idea of what is ongoing. (CHS notes: Beacause, you know, another study by committee really fixes the problem, doesn't it?) Specter now goes on to FISA information provided to Leahy and himself — saying that the regular proceeding would be followed instead of the bypass that the President was doing of the Court. Specter says he would like to know the specifics and details to provide probable cause in light of the tremendous number of interceptions involved here, and more specifically of the quality of the factors required to establish probable cause on communications coming from outside the US in…and what is the apporach for the legislative changes. Want responses in writing.
SEN. FEINSTEIN QUESTIONS: I want to know how this list was compiled. Sampson said he didn't put people on the list — "I was the aggregator." Ballard said he had "no input." Mercer didn't know — said he just expressed concerns as they came up — and Gonzales testified this morning that he didn't know. Feinstein says that she wants to know how this list was compiled. AG says he doesn't recall. AG doesn't recall seeing this document, nor does he recall the meeting at which it was distributed. Republican Senators get the call where there is one in that particular state, in states where Democrats are Senators, the "political lead" gets the call. Not the Democratic Senator. "The talking point is that the Administration made the decision to seek the resignation." Feinstein says we still do not know who selected the individuals who were on that list. AG stammers and then says that he expected that Sampson would talk to folks at the Department and elsewhere and then would come to him with a recommendation. (CHS Notes: which doesn't really answer the question, now does it?) Feinstein says that 7 of the 8 were involved in public corruption prosecutions — and no one knows to this moment who recommended their dismissal. Feinstein says that Rove was involved with the Cummings dismissal, the President involved in Iglesias, and that Miers mentioned something about Deborah Yang from LA — now she resigned and wasn't part of all this. How could you say as little as 3 weeks ago that the WH didn't play a role in adding ot taking off names? AG says just because the President expressed a problem with a particular attorney, that the AG doesn't see that as influencing the process. Feinstein goes on to discuss the EARS reports and the fact that these prosecutors have stellar peer reviews. How did these people get on this list? AG: Gosh, I sure would like to know the answer to that question. But I don't know and all I can tell you is that I don't know the answer. (CHS notes: the aw shucks answer on this is less than credible, to put it mildly.) Feinstein says that it seems to her that the AG would want to know the answer to that — these people were very young and sometimes very ideological people. Battle says that when he called these USAs, it was a shot out of the blue — they had not been told there were problems, and these people were told "you must leave." AG says they should have done this differently. With regard to Lam, the AG says he thinks Lam knew that there were concerns from Congress. Feinstein cuts him off and says that if she were employed by the DoJ, she would want to know what her boss was thinking about her work, not what some outside person was thinking.
SEN. HATCH QUESTIONS: In an aggrieved tone, "I think we would all agree, you would agree, that this was poorly handled…how often do you have to be flagellated about this?" Going on about the AUSAs actually handling the cases, not the USA. (CHS notes: Hatch continues with his lead the witness pattern of questioning.) Why were some of the USAs not removed — crossing this line is wrong, Hatch says, in a very disgusted tone of voice, just horribly improper. AG says that the perception issue is something about which he is very concerned. Now asking office of professional responsibility to look into this matter — AG says this is very serious, he's recused himself of oversight in this matter. Hatch just wants to be sure that there is evenhandness about this.
SEN. LEAHY QUESTIONS: I just want to be sure — does the OPR operate outside political interference? AG says yes. Leahy asks whether they are subject to political influence? AG not certain what you are saying. Leahy says that he's thinking about the OPR look into the NSA domestic spying and decisionmaking, and that the investigation was curtailed because the President cut off their access to the information.
NOTE: I need to run and pick up The Peanut from preschool in a little while. I will pause the hearing on my DVR and resume when I get back. Just wanted to give everyone a heads up on this. Mr. ReddHedd is, unfortunately, stuck in a meeting and unless he gets out early, I'll have to go around 4:30 pm ET and will be back as quickly as I can.