Sara Taylor, Part III
As with all liveblog threads, please keep comments to a minimum where possible, so that the servers can survive the onslaught. That includes holding back on one-liners and such — please — so that I don’t have to constantly cut liveblogging short to begin new threads. And now, to testimony…
11:35 am ET
SEN. DURBIN QUESTIONS (Cont’d.): Durbin asking about her work with Rove — Taylor says that she has worked directly for Rove for a little over two years, that she had multiple contacts with him daily in her job, and that it is fair to say that he was her boss. Then question about the WH committee that oversaw judicial and attorney appointments — Taylor says that she was aware of such a committee, but that she can’t answer any questions about it, including whether she ever attended any of their meetings.
Durbin then moves on to questions regarding the underlying issue in the USAtty firings, as he says — questions of voter fraud and elections. Were you involved in the Bush/Cheney re-election effort in the last election cycle. Says that Griffen worked for the RNC, and that Taylor worked with him in that capacity. Taylor says that she became familiar with the “vote caging” term through press articles and that she can’t discuss “vote caging” very well. Durbin asks if she is familiar with the process of what is done in that regard. Taylor says that’s sort of behavior has occurred in the past — Taylor says that she absolutely has not been involved in this, and says that Griffen has great character, she knows what has been said about him, and she thinks it is horrible to say that he would do anything like that — and people shouldn’t say that about her friend Tim.
SEN. WHITEHOUSE QUESTIONS: Is there anything in yoru employment agreement with the WH that requires you to honor executive privilege after you leave the WH? Taylor says that she doesn’t know, but she takes her oath to serve the Presidentvery seriously. Whitehouse says that he’d like her to research that question and get back to him with an answer — Taylor says she doesn’t recall signing an employment agreement, but maybe she did. (CHS notes: Would someone ask her if she also honors her oath to uphold and protect the Constitution and the laws of the United States?) Did you and Griffen do oppo research? Yes. Did it give you any hesitation that someone who chose that career path would be in any way inhibited to set aside the motivations and be a fully independent USAtty — to be able to set those partisan motivations askide? Taylor says no, that didn’t give her pause at all about Griffen — that his oppo research skills would be useful to him as a prosecutor.
Gets into midterm firings — is that a customary practice of Presidents? Taylor says that she doesn’t recall Reagan or Clinton doing that or, perhaps they did and did it in a way “that was much more artful.” Whitehouse says that the WH has acknowledged giving political briefings to more than a dozen Administrative agencies. The WaPo reported that Taylor gave a briefing at the EPA — tell us about this. Taylor says that she doesn’t recall the briefing, but her general speaking discussion woudl be to thank political appointees for their service; second, would tell them about the President’s upcoming schedule and focus on a particular issue area, and how they would fit into that; and, thirdly, give them an update on the “political landscape of America,” because all those folks were involved in politics in one way or another, and she would share with people what she thought about what was going on with politics. She says that President Clinton’s staff did them as far as she could tell from news accounts. Would these go into Congressional races? Taylor says she would talk about what was going on in the country, so if pople were focused on particular races, she’d talk about those individual Congressional races in terms of giving a broad overview of what was happening and what the impact would be of that in terms of the President’s desire to implement his policies. Taylor says they were meant to be informative for the employees — not to give them political marching orders for their job context. Would that include the specification or targeting of particular candidates? Taylor now hedges on answering. Taylor says that the purpose of those briefings was “to inform people,” not to tell them how to direct their activities based on her opinions. (CHS notes: Hello, splitting hairs much?)
SEN. CARDIN QUESTIONS: Most of the USAttys on the firing list were involved in investigations that were unpopular with the local GOP political establishment. There is concern that political considerations were the motivation for these firings. Would it be wrong to remove a USAtty because of political reasons? Taylor says she thinks so. (CHS notes: she looks tired and not happy to be there at this point.) Did you recieve phone calls or other forms of communication with regard to the USAttys that were fired? Taylor doesn’t recall getting communications about them. Taylor says that she doesn’t recall specific calls about specific USattys — says she got maybe 20 calls a day and maybe 300 e-mails per day complaining about various issues. Cardin doesn’t find her lack of recollection convincing.
Cardin points out that she is selective in her execution of the WH claim of executive privilege, and points out that she’s happy to answer questions that are helpful to the WH, but won’t answer the difficult ones. Taylor says she appreciates that this might be frustrating, but she’s doing the best she can on this. Taylor says that she doesn’t think anyone did anything wrong in these firings. And then cannot answer whether political considerations factored into the firings based on Fielding’s letter. Was your assertion that there was no wrongdoing based on internal deliberations? Taylor says she shouldn’t have answered the question.
20 minute recess.
Jane and emptywheel are now ready to go at the House Judiciary Hearing which will cover Presidential pardon authority. They are going to be liveblogging directly from the committee room in the Rayburn building. We’re going to turn over liveblogging to them at this point, and I’ll continue blogging the Taylor hearing — just behind the scenes. I’ll publish an updated transcript on the Taylor hearing later today so everyone will get a full glimpse of that questioning as well. It’s a full day of oversight today and we’re trying to snag all of it for you all that we can.
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