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AG Gonzales Testimony, Part III

puppet.jpgAttorney General Alberto Gonzales is testifying today before the House Judiciary Committee. The committee website is streaming video and C-Span3 is broadcasting it as well. During liveblogging, please stay on topic in the comments, and please try to hold yourself back from extraneous comments where possible to be kind to our servers. Thanks!

12:18 pm ET — Testimony resumes.

REP. JACKSON LEE QUESTIONS:  Rep. Jackson Lee is now proceeding to talk on and on and on about Texas jail rights cases which, while egregious and icky, have nothing to do with the USAtty matter before the committee.  (CHS notes:  My headache continues.)  Rep. Lee turned off her own mike inadvertantly, and is filibustering her own time by rambling on without anyone being able to understand what she is saying.  AG says obviously there have been serious allegations made with regard to politicization, and that the DoJ has made referrals for internal investigations.  These allegations have been made with reagrd to three political appointees at the DoJ.  (CHS notes:  yep, the pass the buck on responsibility strategy is alive and well today.)   

REP. CANNON QUESTIONS:  Going through some Margolis testimony and selectively reading the bits that make Gonzales look like he had a great idea to weed out weak performers in USAs offices.  Cannon going on and on about Margolis and his opinions of various USAs.  Doesn't like Iglesias.  AG says that these determinations were made by "senior leadership in the department" as problems that needed to be addressed.  AG says in hindsight that he should have had a more structured level of oversight of the process for the USA firings — would have ensured that there would have been at least one face to face meeting with the USAs to have a discussion about their performance.  Cannon says, "but you learned from this?"  AG says yes.

REP. WATT QUESTIONS:  Starts with questions about the firing of McKay.  Watt says that McKay was on the targeted firing list as early as 2005 on Sampson's list according to the documentation provided, so how have you said that he only got placed on the list in 2006?  Gonzales says he'll have to check on that.  Watt says that Sampson told them that theinvestigation on the Wales murder, that McKay was being "overly aggressive in pursuing" the case, and that this upset DoJ employees.  AG says that wasn't a reason in his mind that he "accepted the recommendation."  They now discuss the Wales investigation, the need for it to be thoroughly looked into, and how it would be wrong to stifle that investigation.  Going on to improper motivation for a termination being pressure put on a prosecutor to pursue a case against a Democrat that he declined to pursue as being an improper reason for termnation.  (CHS notes:  Since the AG has said he wasn't paying close enough attention to the process, how would he know what the rationale was for putting any of these people on the list given that he doesn't really remember what any of the reasons were for firing these people?)

REP. GOODLATTE QUESTIONS:  And now we are back to IP laws questions again.  (CHS notes:  cue the jeopardy theme…)  And now onto illegal gambling and untaxed and unregulated gambling sites on the internet.  (CHS notes:  Um…hello.  You can tax the income that someone makes on the gambling, but since you have outlawed internet gamblng you really have little to no incentive for someone to report that income since it is..erm…illegal.  And companies that run those sites have no incentive to start their companies here where they could also be taxed because, again, you've made it illegal.  But I'm sure the religious voters to whom you are pandering really appreciate that loss of tax income.  Ahem.)

REP. WATERS QUESTIONS:  Says she'd like to talk to AG about gangs, but she won't do that today.  Questions the AG's credibility.  Did you review the personnel files after the accusations about these firing occurring for political reasons and did you find any information that any of these USAs were ever notified or reprimanded or notified in any way of problems?  AG says he hasn't reviewed the files, but he doesn't think that they had.  Did you bring the unredacted documents with you that we have subpoenaed?  No, and I can't talk about them because I'm a fact witness.  Did you meet with the President to discuss this investigation of the USA firings?  AG says he wouldn't characterize this as politically motivated firings.  Did you meet with the President about document production?  I haven't met with the President to discuss document production.  What do you know — what would you like to tell us about the USA firings?  (CHS notes:  Rep. Waters is a tad bit frustrated with the non-answer answer dance.)  AG says that we have provided a lot of information to the Congress, and he's not involved on documentation information because he's recused himself from decisions on the documents due to being a fact witness. 

***Note to everyone:  I have to take The Peanut to a doctor's appointment at 3 pm ET, and will have to leave here earlier than that to get to the office on time.  Just wanted to give everyone a heads up.*** 

REP. KING QUESTIONS:  Doesn't agree with Rep. Waters' characterization, and now we are back to pending investigations before Congress.  (CHS notes:  He's referring to Rep. Mollohan, I believe — or perhaps Lewis.  There is a reference to Appropriations Committee, and both have been under investigation at one point or another.  But King is too weaselly to say which he is referring to by name, so I'm not exactly clear which one he means.  Did he say a particular name and I missed it somewhere?) 

REP. DELAHUNT QUESTIONS:  You have been a supporter of the Patriot Act?  Yes.  You have ability to detain individuals for terrorism reasons?  You can't delegate that decision to anyone else, correct?  Yes.  Delahunt getting into a specific case now — Luis Posada Corriles.  AG says that there are still ongoing matters in the Department and he doesn't want to jeopardize that.  Delahunt says that the judge was scathing in the release order.  (CHS notes:  Inference appears to be that someone at DoJ muffed the case.  Interesting.)

REP. ISSA QUESTIONS:  Issa now using his time to gripe about Carol Lam and individual cases to try and make his political pressure look noble and Carol Lam look like a slacker.  (CHS notes:  Not at all predictable.)  Issa asks because of this process, you may be gunshy about firing someone, and I want you to be more stringent in requiring USAs to do what i think they should do — so will you do that?  AG says this process has been liberating for him, in terms of talking with USAs about where they are falling short.  And now we're onto the "blame Clinton" portion of the program, with the how USAs are replaced at the start of a term — or not.  Issa calls the Bush Administration "less partisan."  (CHS notes:  totally credible coming from a non-partisan guy like Issa…yep.)

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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