Monday, March 26, 2007

Former Top Justice Official to Contradict Gonzales Statements


.......... But Sampson will set off some fireworks by contradicting a key assurance that Gonzales made to Congress and the American public last Tuesday that he was not in the loop during the long deliberations leading up to the firings.

Gonzales probably spoke to Sampson 20 times a day, and had a morning management meeting daily on a range of issues with Sampson and other key officials also involved in the U.S. Attorney deliberations. Gonzales had delegated the replacement plan for U.S. Attorneys largely to Sampson and was monitoring it at "the 30,000 feet level," Sampson's associate says. But Sampson will testify that the Attorney General not only discussed the idea while he was still White House counsel and signed off at the end, but also was "aware of the arc of the whole process" in between, says this source. "The idea that there were no discussions on this overall issue," says the source, "the Attorney General could not have meant to say that."

While Sampson's testimony won't implicate White House officials, it won't rule out their involvement - including Rove's - in the selection of the fired U.S. Attorneys either. In fact, it will only give Democrats in Congress new fodder to demand the testimony under oath of Rove and other key Bush officials, something Bush has so far said he won't tolerate, citing executive privilege. Sampson is likely to testify that although he exchanged E-mails and had discussions with then-White House counsel Harriet Miers and her deputy William Kelley, what happened "behind the curtains," in the White House, was largely invisible to him.

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