Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Megs to Turd Blossom: you're creepy
The would-be first daughter vows to take Twitter back from the creepy people (like Rove, who'se ... hehehe ... following her ...) while a snarky Slater says Meghan, you ARE the creepy people.

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posted by JReid @ 9:58 AM  
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Karl Rove: Master of the universe
It's one of those wonders of nature that Karl Rove is still walking around among us, a free man. The guy who was instrumental in everything from election theft and phony voter fraud searches to political prosecutions to outing a CIA agent, who got five shots at getting his grand jury testimony right (in the Plame affair) and STILL managed to avoid the leg irons, and who was in the room during probably every criminal activity that took place in the Bush White House for eight years, has gotten a deal -- yes, a DEAL -- in order to comply, at long last, with a Congressional subpoena. (Harriet Miers got one too. At issue: the U.S. attorney firings.)

A lesser warlock would be in the jail under the Senate building by now...

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posted by JReid @ 9:07 AM  
Sunday, March 01, 2009
Is it a coincidence...
...that ABC News added Bush flak (and contempt of Congress candidate) Karl Rove to its "This Week" roundtable lineup, while the advertising between segments is from BP, Bank of America and Chevron?

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posted by JReid @ 11:56 AM  
Friday, January 30, 2009
Mining the Huffpo: the Bush blotter
Two must-read articles on the HuffPo, both having to do with the legal twists and turns of the former president.

First up: Bush's last minute end run around accountability, in the form of letters issued to memebers of his now defunct administration, attempting to immunize them against probes by Congress:
Michael Isikoff reported for Newsweek that while many of us were fomenting about Bush preemptively pardoning at-risk members of his administration, he and his lawyer Fred Fielding (White House Counsel) were concocting one last expansion of executive privilege. Four days before he left office, Mr. Bush authorized Fielding to write letters to Harriet Miers and Karl Rove giving them "absolute immunity" from Congressional inquiry and prosecution. Preemptively. In perpetuity. Absolute and irrevocable.

The letters set the stage for what is likely to be a highly contentious legal and political battle over an unresolved issue: whether a former president can assert "executive privilege" -- and therefore prevent his aides from testifying before Congress -- even after his term has expired.

These letters were delivered before Congress or any prosecutor had initiated action against Miers and Rove. Clearly Bush sought to inoculate Rove and Miers from all attempts to prosecute them for their actions during his administration. Only when John Conyers (Chairman, House Judiciary Committee) subpoenaed Mr. Rove did the letters come to light. Waving his letter in the air, Karl Rove refused to appear before the committee.

Read the full Isikoff piece here. Meanwhile, Dick Cheney gave his own set of interviews, all but daring the new administration to charge him with a war crime for ordering torture, he says, at Bush's behest. Wonder if he has a letter, too...

Next up: Slate uncovers a college thesis by none other than Liz Cheney (the non-gay Cheney offspring, who apparently was an inspiration to her father in more ways that one. The thesis was called "The Evolution of Presidential War Powers 1988." ...
In 1988, while Dick Cheney was Wyoming's sole representative in the House of Representatives, his daughter's senior thesis was quietly published in Colorado Springs. The 125-page treatise argued that, constitutionally and historically, presidents have virtually unchecked powers in war. Thirteen years before her father became vice president, she had symbolically authored the first legal memorandum of the Bush administration, laying out the same arguments that would eventually justify Guantanamo and extraordinary rendition, wiretapping of American citizens, and, broadly, the unitary theory of the executive that shaped the Bush presidency.

Elizabeth's thesis contains such gems as the justifiable fabrication of enemy attacks to launch pre-emptive wars, and other nuggets of the founding father's hidden intent:
Elizabeth Cheney begins her survey at the Constitutional Convention. Contrary to today's middle-school mythology, she tells us, fear of enabling a tyrannical monarch was not foremost in the Founding Fathers' minds. Rather, they did not want to repeat the failure of the Continental Congress' attempts to manage the war for independence. Our constitutional architects, she argues, believed they could not "foresee every possible future use of American armed forces" and, as a result, wanted a commander in chief endowed with great latitude in wartime.

For Cheney, Thomas Jefferson established the path presidents would and should take when dealing with Congress. In engaging American warships against Barbary pirates, Jefferson "chose to inform Congress of his actions at his own convenience." When he did, he fabricated an attack on an American ship to secure their support.

Scary stuff. Read the full story here.

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posted by JReid @ 11:07 PM  
Monday, January 26, 2009
Conyers tries again
John Conyers discovers his gavel, now that the Bushies have left town.

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posted by JReid @ 11:10 PM  
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Redrum? GOP IT guru's crash death 'timely'
From RawStory, and slowly leaking into the "regular media," could it be a classic case of "die before you testify...?"

The death of Republican "IT guru" Mike Connell last Friday in a fiery plane crash has been the subject of intense speculation online about whether it might have been murder -- but very little of that speculation has made it into the national media. Now one local TV station in Connell's home state of Ohio is acknowledging that there are questions about his death.

"Well, this sounds like a made up story," Scott Taylor of 19 Action News in Cleveland began. "One man rigging state elections to help his boss, President George Bush. After it's done, power players in Washington say 'Get rid of the guy.' Do I believe it? No -- for now."Taylor noted that "bad weather could have played a part in the crash" but "some in Washington have a different opinion."

"Some say Connell was about to reveal embarrassing details involving senior members of the Bush Administration," Taylor explained, "including their involvement in destroying incriminating emails and rigging elections. Connell died on impact, and was only 3 miles from the Akron-Canton Airport. He was an experienced pilot. Was it an accident, or murder?"

Connell had played a central role in two separate Bush administration scandals. He had created the website for the Ohio secretary of state's office which some have linked to suspected election fraud during the 2004 presidential race. He also set up the domains which White House staff used for their off-the-books emails concerning the firing of US Attorneys, emails which are now said to have been destroyed. In a press release cited by 19 Action News, the website Velvet Revolution revealed that "a person close to Mr. Connell has recently been discussing with a VR investigator how Mr. Connell can tell all about his work for George Bush. Mr. Connell told a close associate that he was afraid that the George Bush and Dick Cheney would 'throw [[him] under the bus.' A tipster close to the McCain campaign disclosed to VR in July that Mr. Connell’s life was in jeopardy and that Karl Rove had threatened him and his wife."

19 Action News also reported on Sunday that Connell had previously been warned by a friend that his plane might be sabotaged and had canceled two flights because of suspicious problems.


Watch the 19 Action News piece here (or here:)



Connell had been called to testify in a federal civil rights lawsuit involving allegations of the rigging of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio. He had been warned off flying his plane (he was an expert pilot.) Meanwhile, Bradblog reports that the lead attorney in the vote rigging case says he is pressing on with the case.

This case is full of weirness, and now some in the blogosphere are warning Al Franken to stay on the ground, and filling in more blanks about Connell:

Connell told various sources that he was being threatened by Rove. He canceled at least two previous flights due to mechanical failure. A father of four, his decision to fly from a highly restricted airport in Maryland remains a mystery. Connell reportedly did contract work for security-industrial agencies, like the CIA. Connell also openly acknowledged that he was the first IT contractor to move his servers behind the firewall of the US House of Representatves where he oversaw the websites of the House Judiciary Committee, Intelligence Committee, Ways and Means Committee, and Administrative Committee, arguably the four most powerful committees in the House.

Strange days indeed, but if the KGB can (allegedly) do it ...

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posted by JReid @ 12:26 AM  
Thursday, October 02, 2008
U.S. Attorneygate: it's official
The OIG's report confirms that the plan to fire U.S. attorneys who refused to play politics for the administration was hatched in the White House. Don't hold your breath for TV news coverage...

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posted by JReid @ 11:29 AM  
Thursday, August 28, 2008
McCain's auspicious day
Over to the other bloghouse for a look at John McCain's veepinations... (and Karl Rove's role in them...)

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posted by JReid @ 12:44 AM  
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Yes we can (make Bushies respond to subpoenas)
A federal judge puts the ixnay on otnay owingshay upyay in ongresscay... if you know what I mean...
WASHINGTON - President Bush’s top advisers are not immune from congressional subpoenas, a federal judge ruled Thursday in an unprecedented dispute between the two political branches.

House Democrats called the ruling a ringing endorsement of the principle that nobody is above the law.

In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates said there’s no legal basis for Bush’s argument and that his former legal counsel, Harriet Miers, must appear before Congress. If she wants to refuse to testify, he said, she must do so in person. The committee also has sought to force testimony from White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten.

Oh boy... Judge Bates: meet "terrorist watch list..."
“Harriet Miers is not immune from compelled congressional process; she is legally required to testify pursuant to a duly issued congressional subpoena,” Bates wrote. He said that both Bolten and Miers must give Congress all non-privileged documents related to the firings.

The ruling is a blow to the Bush administration’s efforts to bolster the power of the executive branch at the expense of the legislative branch. The Bush administration argued it was immune from such subpoenas, arguing that Congress can't force them to testify or turn over documents.

The report goes on to quote Nancy Pelosi as saying Dems plan to "act quickly and call Miers and Bolton to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, where they can claim executive privilege in person.
“We look forward to the White House complying with this ruling and to scheduling future hearings with Ms. Miers and other witnesses who have relied on such claims,” Conyers said in a statement. “We hope that the defendants will accept this decision and expect that we will receive relevant documents and call Ms. Miers to testify in September.”

Bates, who was appointed to the bench by Bush, issued a 93-page opinion that strongly rejected the administration’s legal arguments. He noted that the executive branch could not point to a single case in which courts held that White House aides were immune from congressional subpoenas.

“That simple yet critical fact bears repeating: the asserted absolute immunity claim here is entirely unsupported by existing case law,” Bates wrote.

Unless of course it gets to the Supreme Court, where Tony Scalia will find a way, and if Justice Kennedy is having a bad day? Zappo!

So of course now the question everyone is asking is, what does this mean for our good friend Karl Rove? Some thoughts on that here.

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posted by JReid @ 4:30 PM  
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Arrest this man (already)
Another day, another reason to clap Karl Rove in leg irons. This one from the Brad Blog:
Karl Rove has threatened a GOP high-tech guru and his wife, if he does not "'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio," according to a letter sent this morning to Attorney General Michael Mukasey, by Ohio election attorney Cliff Arnebeck.

The email, posted in full below, details threats against Mike Connell of the Republican firm New Media Communications, which describes itself on its website as "a powerhouse in the field of Republican website development and Internet services" and having "played a strategic role in helping the GOP expand its technological supremacy."

Connell was described in a recent interview with the plaintiff's attorneys in Ohio as a "high IQ Forrest Gump" for his appearance "at the scene of every [GOP] crime" from Florida 2000 to Ohio 2004 to the RNC email system to the installation of the currently-used Congressional computer network firewall.

Connell and his firm are currently employed by the John McCain campaign, as well as the RNC and other Republican and so-called "faith-based" organizations.

In a phone call this afternoon, Arnebeck could not publicly reveal specific details of the information that triggered his concern about the threats to Connell. The message to the IT man from Rove is said to have been sent via a go-between in Ohio. That information led Arnebeck to contact Mukasey after he found the reports to be credible and troubling.

"If there's a credible threat, which I regard this to be," he told The BRAD BLOG, "I have a professional duty to report it."

Brad has a lot more, including a copy of the email to Mukasey, and information that Rove may be linked to the "gaming of the Ohio election" in 2004:

The motion was made following the discovery of new information, including details from a Republican data security expert, leading Arnebeck towards seeking depositions of Rove, Connell, and other GOP operatives believed to have participated in the gaming of election results in 2004. A letter [PDF] was sent to Mukasey at the same time last week, asking him to retain email and other documents from Rove...

"Mr. Rove's e-mails from the White House to the Justice Department, the FBI, the Pentagon, Congress and various federal regulatory agencies are obviously relevant to the factual issues that we intend to address in this case," Arnebeck wrote last week to the Attorney General. "We are concerned about reports that Mr. Rove not only destroyed e-mails, but also took steps to destroy the hard drives from which they had been sent."

In his email to Mukasey today, Arnebeck writes: "We have been confidentially informed by a source we believe to be credible that Karl Rove has threatened Michael Connell, a principal witness we have identified in our King Lincoln case in federal court in Columbus, Ohio, that if he does not agree to 'take the fall' for election fraud in Ohio, his wife Heather will be prosecuted for supposed lobby law violations."

"This appears to be in response to our designation of Rove as the principal perpetrator in the Ohio Corrupt Practices Act/RICO claim with respect to which we issued document hold notices last Thursday to you and to the US Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform," the Ohio attorney writes, before going on to link to The BRAD BLOG's coverage of his press conference last week and requesting "protection for Mr. Connell and his family from this reported attempt to intimidate a witness."

Combined with his serial contempt of Congress, and his near death experience in the Valerie Plame case, what more evidence do we need that Karl Rove is a criminal? Does he have to shoot someone in the face? Run over them with his car? Oh, right ...

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posted by JReid @ 11:00 AM  
Friday, July 18, 2008
Greenwald and co say: send Karl Rove to jail
Watch the video, sign the petition.
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posted by JReid @ 1:08 PM  
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Arrest this man

The 110th Congress has already disgraced itself in any number of ways, by bowing and scraping to a lame duck president who nobody but them takes seriously anymore (the latest instance being the FISA bill.) If the Judiciary Committee, led by the incredibly underwhelming John Conyers (who talked tough on impeachment until he got the gavel,) fails to respond to the naked affront to its authority by Karl Rove, who blew off the committee today by refusing to respond to a lawful subpoena regarding his role in the politicization of the Justice Department and the political prosecution of the former governor of Alabama, then they aren't worthy of holding their offices. Either the Judiciary Committee enforces that subpoena, or they admit that, just like Dick Cheney planned it, the Congress is no longer a co-equal branch of the U.S. government, confirming that we are indeed living in a post-Constitutional age.

The outrageous behavior of the arrogant Bushies, including Rove, is made worse by the new attorney general, Michael Mukasey, who replaced the boob from Texas, Alberto Gonzales. Back in May, Joseph Palermo wrote the following about the timid Mr. Mukasey:
Not since the time of Richard Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell, who was the only Attorney General in American history to go to prison, has the head of the Justice Department behaved so abominably. Attorney General Michael Mukasey has chosen to obstruct Congress's subpoenas of executive branch employees despite evidence of criminal wrongdoing. Senators Charles Schumer and Diane Feinstein were the deciding votes that confirmed Mukasey. What were they thinking? Now Mukasey bucks normal procedure and refuses to begin grand jury investigations of Karl Rove's role in transforming the Justice Department into a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Republican National Committee.

Karl Rove is free to "analyze" American politics for us on Fox News, and in the pages of The Wall Street Journal and Newsweek; he appears on discussion panels and charges $40,000 a pop for speaking gigs; he signed a book deal estimated to be worth $8 to $12 million; and now he thumbs his nose at the Congress, defying its subpoenas. It's as if he thinks he's above the law and above his fellow citizens. And to top it off Rove's enabler and co-conspirator is the Attorney General himself.

Mukasey's refusal to do his job shows he is a willing accomplice in undermining the Constitutional powers of the House of Representatives as a co-equal branch of government. Can anyone think of an action more "un-American" than dismantling the "checks and balances" that James Madison and other founders so carefully put in place in 1787?
Palermo added that:
It is fitting that our current Constitutional crisis finds Karl Rove as its centerpiece. No human being has done more damage to our republic in the last hundred years than Karl Rove. He masterminded three of the slimiest, rottenest, most dishonest and divisive elections in American history; elections that brought to power a craven gang of white collar criminals who proceeded to destroy the ability of the government to function (except as a conveyor belt of cash for cronies), lied us into an illegal war in Iraq, collapsed the economy, and made torture and the suspension of habeas corpus synonymous with American "ideals." Karl Rove thinks he can tell Congress to go fuck itself. He must not be allowed to walk away Scot free from his crimes and misdeeds.
... he then went on to suggest Congress hire Dog the Bounty Hunter. Um ... yeah...

Dog aside, the committee can do a number of things, and should probably do them all, sooner rather than later.
  • They can file a lawsuit against Rove, as was done with Harriet Myers
  • They can find him in contempt of Congress
  • And having found him in contempt, they can have the Sergeant at Amrs arrest his roly-poly behind. 
As an editorial in the Concord Monitor put it:
If lawmakers fail to do so promptly, the law itself will lose its meaning and Congress will lose what little respect the public has for it. ...

...Rove is now a private citizen. In his role as a political wag, he has said that he never discussed the Siegelman matter with the White House. That makes his assertion of executive privilege all the more ludicrous. Rove has offered to testify by e-mail, or if he can do so not under oath and with no recorded transcript. But it is Congress that makes the rules, not Rove, his lawyer or the president.

Many Americans choose which laws to obey and which to flout. When caught, they can claim all they want that the law doesn't apply to them or plead that their boss told them not to talk. Those people generally wind up behind bars. If he continues to thumb his nose at Congress and the rule of law, that's what should happen to Rove.
Amen.

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posted by JReid @ 1:00 PM  
Friday, May 23, 2008
But can you make him show?
John Conyers' House Judiciary Committee finally serves Karl Rove, only he says that his former bosses at the White House still won't let him testify. Who knew presidential prerogatives stretched that far? The bottom line:
Representative John Conyers Jr. of Michigan, the committee chairman, said the subpoena was necessary because Mr. Rove had explicitly declined an invitation to appear voluntarily. Mr. Conyers and fellow committee Democrats say they want to question Mr. Rove about the dismissals of several federal prosecutors and ask whether he knows anything about the decision to prosecute former Gov. Donald E. Siegelman of Alabama, a Democrat.

Mr. Siegelman, who was convicted on a bribery charge, was released from prison in March pending an appeal after an appeals court ruled that he had raised “substantial questions” about his case.

Mr. Rove’s lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, in a letter to Mr. Conyers this week, said the chairman was “provoking a gratuitous confrontation.” Mr. Luskin asserted that Mr. Rove would not appear because he had been directed not to do so by the White House. Although Mr. Rove has left the White House and is now a political commentator, Mr. Luskin said that Mr. Rove “in these matters is not a free agent” and must comply with instructions from the White House not to testify.

Mr. Conyers has argued that Mr. Rove may not himself invoke any privilege on behalf of the White House but that President Bush could do so.

Mr. Rove’s lawyer also noted that the House committee was engaged in a similar conflict with Harriet E. Miers, the former White House counsel, who has also declined to provide voluntary testimony about the dismissals of the federal prosecutors and has defied a subpoena. That issue has landed in federal court, and Mr. Luskin said the Rove matter should await the resolution of that case.

Mr. Conyers, in a letter to Mr. Luskin on Thursday, said that the request to Mr. Rove was wider than the one to Ms. Miers because it also sought information about the Siegelman prosecution.

Several Democrats have asserted that Mr. Siegelman’s prosecution was encouraged for political reasons by Republicans in Washington. Mr. Siegelman served nine months of a seven-year sentence before being released pending an appeal.

Mr. Rove has denied any role in the Siegelman prosecution in comments to journalists, but Mr. Conyers is seeking to put him under oath. The subpoena demands that Mr. Rove appear before the committee on July 10.


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posted by JReid @ 12:15 AM  
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I think they call it "churzpah" ...
So Karl Rove, magically transformed from a lying, scheming, one step ahead of the jailer Bush operative to a respectable columnist and political pundit -- overnight! -- is now dispensing some advice to his new charge, John McCain, via the newly Foxified Wall Street Journal. First, the MacGyver story:
Mr. Day relayed to me one of the stories Americans should hear. It involves what happened to him after escaping from a North Vietnamese prison during the war. When he was recaptured, a Vietnamese captor broke his arm and said, "I told you I would make you a cripple."

The break was designed to shatter Mr. Day's will. He had survived in prison on the hope that one day he would return to the United States and be able to fly again. To kill that hope, the Vietnamese left part of a bone sticking out of his arm, and put him in a misshapen cast. This was done so that the arm would heal at "a goofy angle," as Mr. Day explained. Had it done so, he never would have flown again.

But it didn't heal that way because of John McCain. Risking severe punishment, Messrs. McCain and Day collected pieces of bamboo in the prison courtyard to use as a splint. Mr. McCain put Mr. Day on the floor of their cell and, using his foot, jerked the broken bone into place. Then, using strips from the bandage on his own wounded leg and the bamboo, he put Mr. Day's splint in place.

Years later, Air Force surgeons examined Mr. Day and complemented the treatment he'd gotten from his captors. Mr. Day corrected them. It was Dr. McCain who deserved the credit. Mr. Day went on to fly again.
All that's left is John McCain making a flying machine out of his pants and, on the strength of his lung power alone, blowing himself and his fellow captive clean out of Vietnam... Next, Rove throws out some ideas for our boys down in Gitmo:
Another McCain story, somewhat better known, is about the Vietnamese practice of torturing him by tying his head between his ankles with his arms behind him, and then leaving him for hours. The torture so badly busted up his shoulders that to this day Mr. McCain can't raise his arms over his head.
Are you taking notes, CIA interrogators...???

Finally, we have Cindy McCain as Angelina Jolie:
n 1991 Cindy McCain was visiting Mother Teresa's orphanage in Bangladesh when a dying infant was thrust into her hands. The orphanage could not provide the medical care needed to save her life, so Mrs. McCain brought the child home to America with her. She was met at the airport by her husband, who asked what all this was about.

Mrs. McCain replied that the child desperately needed surgery and years of rehabilitation. "I hope she can stay with us," she told her husband. Mr. McCain agreed. Today that child is their teenage daughter Bridget.

I was aware of this story. What I did not know, and what I learned from Doris, is that there was a second infant Mrs. McCain brought back. She ended up being adopted by a young McCain aide and his wife...
Well I'll bet Karl Rove didn't put together a push polling smear campaign to tell South Carolina voters in 2000 that the goodly McCain aide had an illegitimate black child. Nope. Rove reserved that tactic for McCain, the man whose specialness he's touting today, in order to throw the election to George W. Bush.

"I was aware of the story..." give me a break!
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posted by JReid @ 1:39 PM  
Friday, March 28, 2008
Freed Alabama governor sees Rove in the rear view mirror
From today's New York Times:

Freed Alabama Ex-Governor Sees Politics in His Case

By ADAM NOSSITER

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Former Governor Don Siegelman of Alabama, released from prison today on bond in a bribery case, said he was as convinced as ever that politics played a leading role in his prosecution.

In a telephone interview shortly after he walked out of a federal prison in Oakdale, La., Mr. Siegelman said there had been “abuse of power” in his case, and repeatedly cited the influence of Karl Rove, the former White House political director.

“His fingerprints are smeared all over the case,” Mr. Siegelman said, a day after a federal appeals court ordered him released on bond and said there were legitimate questions about his case.

Mr. Rove has strenuously denied any involvement in the conviction of the former governor, who was sentenced to serve seven years last June after being convicted in 2006. He could not immediately be reached for comment today.

Mr. Siegelman served nine months while his lawyers appealed a federal judge’s refusal to release him on bond, pending the ex-governor’s appeal of his conviction. That refusal was overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit on Thursday.

The former governor, a Democrat, said he would “press” to have Mr. Rove answer questions about his possible involvement in the case before Congress, which has already held a hearing on Mr. Siegelman. On Thursday, the House Judiciary Committee signaled its intention to have Mr. Siegelman testify about the nature of his prosecution.

In June of 2006 he was convicted by a federal jury here of taking $500,000 from Richard M. Scrushy, the former chief executive of the HealthSouth corporation, in exchange for an appointment to the state hospital licensing board. The money was to retire a debt from Mr. Siegelman’s campaign for a state lottery to pay for schools, and the ex-governor’s lawyers have insisted that it was no more than a routine political contribution.

On the telephone outside the prison today, Mr. Siegelman said he had confidence that the federal appeals court, which will now consider his larger appeal, would agree with his view of the case — that he was convicted for a transaction that regularly takes place in American politics.

Otherwise, Mr. Siegelman said, “every governor and every president and every contributor might as well turn themselves in, because it’s going to be open season on them.” ...

Yeah, and next, they'll have to investigate that CBS station that blacked out '60 Minutes' at a most inopportune moment...

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posted by JReid @ 8:01 PM  
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Mr. Know-it-all?

Every so often, something happens -- sometimes big, sometimes small -- that forces you to contemplate the possibility that George W. Bush isn't a stupid as he seems to be. ... that somehow, he actually does know what's going on around him, and that worse, he is in on it. This used to happen to me with Ronald Reagan from time to time -- those moments when you got the feeling that he may have only seemed senile, but in fact, was the mastermind behind all the bad things being done in his name (Iran Contra was such a moment, but looking back, I'm leaning more toward his being used by people like Ollie North and Elliot Abrams...)

This is that kind of moment for GWB, and it comes courtesy of a doughey, sweaty little Texan named Scott, who used to work at the White House... Today, the company that's publishing his "tell all" book issued a couple of tantalizing paragraphs related to Scott's role in the cover-up following the outing of CIA covert agent Valerie Plame. Bloomberg picks it up from there:

Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan writes in a memoir that he unintentionally misled the public about the leak of a CIA operative's name because of misinformation given to him by President George W. Bush, political adviser Karl Rove and other top officials.

A three-paragraph excerpt from the book released today by the publisher doesn't give details of what the president told McClellan. The case eventually led to the indictment and conviction of Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.

``I stood at the White House briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby,'' McClellan, 39, wrote. ``There was one problem. It was not true.''

McClellan wrote that he ``unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff, and the president himself.''
The White House, through its current flaks, has of course denied that Georgie would EVER ask anyone to lie, much less about the leaking of classified information -- something he claimed back in 2003 he knew not a thing about. As for McClellan -- the White House is implying that "he thinks the paragraphs were taken out of context." How Dana Perrino knows what Scott McClellan thinks is not explained, unless of course Dick Cheney is somewhere in a secret location, to which poor Scott has been dragged, bound and gagged, and is now telling him what he thinks.

What's intriguing about the McClellan eruption is that it brings us back to the fundamental question that Patrick Fitzgerald was never able to answer for us during the Plame leak investigation, because of the sand thrown in his eyes by the perjurious Scooter Libby: namely, who inside the White House knew that Scooter Libby was peddling classified information that the White House hoped would discredit Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who had blown the whistle on the Bush administration's foreknowledge of the emptiness of their charges about Iraq and yellowcake from Niger. Who knew, and who may have ordered Libby, and perhaps others (Newsweek's new golden boy Karl Rove comes to mind... kudos to the editors at Time, by the way, for having higher standards...) to leak Plame's identity, outing and endangering her and anyone who worked with her, and blowing years of weapons intelligence that had been gathered by her through the CIA front company Brewster Jennings.

Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby clearly suggests that he believes that the vice president was involved -- perhaps even the key player in the treasonous game of hardball. But McClellan's little paragraphs open the door to the possibility that the culprits in the unprecedented betrayal of a covert agent by her own government -- something brand new in American history -- may have gone all the way to the top.

Funny, that.

A reporter on MSNBC tonight suggested that the book is "Scottie's revenge," and says that McClellan left the White House bitter and angry at having been misused by the White House in the Libby affair. David Gregory disagreed with the revenge thing (he would, he doesn't often go out on a limb when it comes to politics...) but he did agree that McClellan left the White House a bitter man. He certainly seems to be putting some distance between himself and the 22 other administration officials involved in either the leak itself, or the cover-up. ... including one rather dim, but maybe not-so dumb ... George W. Bush. More on the case against Bush in the Plamegate affair from Thinkprogress here.

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posted by JReid @ 10:12 PM  
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Rove's legacy ... such as it is

From James Carney at TIME sume it up nicely:

... What often distinguished Rove from other strategists was his sweeping vision. He is encyclopedic in his knowledge of the smallest details of electoral politics — of precincts and turnout models, county activists and regional issues — but he always had a broader idea about where he, and Bush, were going, and where they would take the party. As long ago as 1998, his stated project with Bush was to remake the G.O.P. into a permanent governing majority of the kind the Democratic Party enjoyed from 1932 through 1968. He would do it by winning over Latino voters and breaking the Democrats' grip on seniors and — of course — pounding voters at every turn with the argument that only Republicans could be trusted with America's national security in such perilous times.

His plan was for nothing less than a broad realignment of American politics. But the plan failed terribly after Bush's reelection. Not only has Iraq gone disastrously, dragging down the President's popularity and making even staunch Republicans skittish, but some of the policies Rove was more directly responsible for — the vast expansion of Medicare, the mutation of the G.O.P. into a party of big government, the spectacular failure of Bush's effort to "reform" Social Security through partial privatization — have all weighed heavily on the G.O.P., turning it for the first time since Ronald Reagan took office in 1981 into a party in retreat. In the 2006 mid-terms, Rove assured nervous Republicans that they could win again if they maligned their Democratic opponents as soft-headed and weak on terror. And they heeded his advice. But the old strategy didn't work; Democrats swept to power in both houses of Congress. Rove insists — as he does in today's Wall Street Journal to Paul Gigot — that Republicans lost because of corruption and overspending, not because of Bush and the war. But even most Republicans don't seem to believe that. ...
Well. That's about all there is to say about that.

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posted by JReid @ 7:28 AM  
Monday, August 13, 2007
The turd blossom files
As he heads out the door, Karl Rove has a few things on his agenda...



1. Avoid pesky inquiries from Congressional judiciary committees...


2. Avoid questions about whether departure is related to pesky inquiries from Congressional judiciary committees...


3. Write book about how rich and deep the Bush legacy will be ... try to find a publisher willing to classify it as non-fiction...


4. Don't read the newspaper editorials... except Gigot. Always read Gigot...


5. Wait by phone for call from Hollywood star-cum-Reagan redux...


6. Burn effigy of key Democrats on White House lawn ... be sure to douse by dawn... While at it, burn some effigies of ingrate Republicans, too...

7. Take one last whiff of the boss' cologne ... God, he exudes more charisma than any one man should be allowed... er ... he's ah-aight...


8. Have White House staffers edit Wiki page to remove negative inferences...


9. Fix 2008 presidential election ... that bitch Hillary must not win... Perhaps get U.S. attorneys to come up with something spicy on her...


10. Go in for one last hug with the Big Guy ... perhaps show a little thigh, just to be coquettish...




(Sigh.) I'm gonna miss the White House...


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posted by JReid @ 9:23 PM  
Bush to wave bye-bye to brain
Karl Rove, who cut his political eye teeth trashing the military service of World War II hero George McGovern, under the tutelage of Watergate indictee Donald Segretti, will step down from his post as George W. Bush's brain at the end of the month. While Democrats may be sad/glad to see Turd Blossom go (particularly since he's not going out in handcuffs) you've got to assume that he's leaving in order to return to his first love: scorched earth presidential campaigning. No telling what nefarious schemes he'll hatch to try and derail the Dems' best shot at the White House since the 1992 Boomer coup. Oh, and he's expected to write a book. That should be interesting... wonder what he'll write about his gay father, who dumped his mother in order to hang at the Rainbow Cactus?

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posted by JReid @ 6:50 AM  
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Executive privilege, the sequel
Now it's Karl Rove's turn to hide under Fred Fielding's skirts.

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posted by JReid @ 8:29 AM  
Saturday, June 02, 2007
But will it stick?
Karl Rove is implicated in what appears to be the politicized prosecution of a Democratic political figure by one of Alberto's finest, during a heated re-election, which also happens to contain a fishy recount. TIME reports:

In the rough and tumble of Alabama politics, the scramble for power is often a blood sport. At the moment, the state's former Democratic governor, Don Siegelman, stands convicted of bribery and conspiracy charges and faces a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Siegelman has long claimed that his prosecution was driven by politically motivated, Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys.

Now Karl Rove, the President's top political strategist, has been implicated in the controversy. A longtime Republican lawyer in Alabama swears she heard a top G.O.P. operative in the state say that Rove "had spoken with the Department of Justice" about "pursuing" Siegelman, with help from two of Alabama's U.S. attorneys.

The allegation was made by Dana Jill Simpson, a lifelong Republican and lawyer who practices in Alabama. She made the charges in a May 21 affidavit, obtained by TIME, in which she describes a conference call on November 18, 2002, which involved a group of senior aides to Bob Riley, who had just narrowly defeated Siegelman in a bitterly contested election for governor. Though Republican Riley, a former Congressman, initially found himself behind by several thousand votes, he had pulled ahead at the last minute when disputed ballots were tallied in his favor. After the abrupt vote turnaround, Siegelman sought a recount. The Simpson affidavit says the conference call focused on how the Riley campaign could get Siegelman to withdraw his challenge.

According to Simpson's statement, William Canary, a senior G.O.P. political operative and Riley adviser who was on the conference call, said "not to worry about Don Siegelman" because "'his girls' would take care of" the governor. Canary then made clear that "his girls" was a reference to his wife, Leura Canary, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Alabama, and Alice Martin, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.

Canary reassured others on the conference call — who also included Riley's son, Rob, and Terry Butts, another Riley lawyer and former justice of the Alabama supreme court — that he had the help of a powerful pal in Washington. Canary said "not to worry — that he had already gotten it worked out with Karl and Karl had spoken with the Department of Justice and the Department of Justice was already pursuing Don Siegelman," the Simpson affidavit says. Both U.S. attorney offices subsequently indicted Siegelman on a variety of charges, although Leura Canary recused herself from dealing with the case in May 2002. A federal judge dismissed the Northern District case before it could be tried, but Siegelman was convicted in the Middle District on bribery and conspiracy charges last June. ...
Of course all of the parties named are denying it, with the exception of the White House, which, intrestingly enough, has no comment. More from TIME:

Canary was appointed by President George H. W. Bush to serve in the White House as special assistant for intergovernmental affairs, and then named chief of staff of the Republican National Committee. Later in the 1990's he also worked closely with Karl Rove in a successful series of campaigns to get Republicans elected to Alabama's state courts.

In an interview with TIME, Simpson confirmed that the "Karl" cited in her sworn statement was Karl Rove. "There's absolutely no question it was Karl Rove, no doubt whatsoever," she said. She also said she has phone records to back up the date and duration of her phone calls.

Though Simpson's legal work primarily involved research for companies seeking federal government contracts, she says she also did "opposition research" on Siegelman as a volunteer in Riley's campaign in 2002. A lifelong G.O.P. supporter, she says she has long been friendly with Riley's son, Rob Riley, whom she met at the University of Alabama and worked with on various legal cases.

In her interview with TIME, Simpson said the participants in the conference call expressed growing concern that Gov. Siegelman would refuse to give up his challenge to the vote count. According to Simpson, Rob Riley said, "Siegelman's just like a cockroach, he'll never die, what are we going to do?" At that point Canary offered reassurance by citing Rove's news from Justice Department.

Simpson said she had long been troubled by the conference call conversation, and even consulted an official of the Alabama State Bar Association to determine whether she could disclose it publicly without violating her obligations as a volunteer working for the Riley campaign. She was told, she said, that she was free to speak of the matter.

Simpson said she grew more concerned about the matter after Siegelman's conviction last June. She says she told several friends about the conference call ; one of them, Mark Bollinger, a former aide to a Democratic attorney general in Alabama and in the Alabama Bureau of Investigation, has given his own affidavit, obtained by TIME, swearing that Simpson had told him of the conference call and Rove's alleged statements.
Hm. Wouldn't I love to see those phone records ... And what about the timing?

The federal investigation of Siegelman culminated in a criminal prosecution that became public not long after Siegelman announced that he would run again for governor of Alabama in 2006. Partly because of the investigation, Siegelman failed in his bid for the Democratic nomination.

So why hasn't this story hit the mainstream, television media? Could it be that reporters and senior management at the big three networks and their cable offspring are just too protective of, and close to, Karl and friends (every Washington reporter appears to be on a first name basis with him.) Could it be that they have decided, on their own, that Karl news isn't really news? It's too "inside the beltway," it won't go anywhere anyway (remember Plamegate?) Or maybe, they just assume that nobody cares.

Either way, stories like this are ones you only find linked to by blogs, or possibly on "Countdown." That, my friends, is why Karl Rove is untouchable. Not because his criminality isn't real or known, but because the Fourth Estate is playing on his team.

Other stories you won't hear on "Hardball" or the nightly news:


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posted by JReid @ 8:00 PM  
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
On your way out the door...
Alberto Gonzales proves that he's not only the most incompetent attorney general in memorable U.S. history, he's also one of the sleaziest:


WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Tuesday he relied heavily on his deputy to oversee the firings of U.S. attorneys, appearing to distance himself from his departing second-in-command.

Gonzales' comments came the day after Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said he would step down by the end of summer, a decision that people familiar with his plans said was hastened by the controversy over last year's firings of eight prosecutors.

"At the end of the day, the recommendations reflected the views of the deputy attorney general. He signed off on the names," Gonzales told reporters after a speech about Justice Department steps to curb rising violent crime.

"The one person I would care about would be the views of the deputy attorney general, because the deputy attorney general is the direct supervisor of the United States attorneys," Gonzales said.

McNulty, reached in San Antonio after Gonzales' remarks, declined to respond.

The uncomfortable moment capped weeks of strain between the two men and their staffs, a rift that grew as a result of the firings that Congress suspects were politically motivated. It also raises questions of whether McNulty's resignation also was ordered, despite his insistence that it was his own decision to step down. ...
Just days ago, Gonzales couldn't tell the House Judiciary Committee who on earth could have been responsible for the firings, but he was pretty sure it was Kyle Sampson's fault. Now, conveniently, the culprit is the latest departing deputy. And as for McNulty being to blame, he has already testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and said in one on one meetings with Senator Chuck Schumer, that he was given bogus reasons for the purge, which conveniently allowed him to go before congress and market the "performance related reasons" shillery, which he promptly took back in subsequent conversations with Chuch Schumer:

McNulty has acknowledged approving, last October, the list of prosecutors who were ordered to leave. But documents released by the Justice Department show he was not closely involved in picking all the U.S. attorneys who were put on the list -- a job mostly driven by two Gonzales staffers with little prosecutorial experience.Gonzales ultimately signed off on the list. He said he was reassured by McNulty as recently as March that the firings were justified.
Really? Well it seems McNulty tells a different story:
Despite his own misleading statements before Congress, McNulty is the wrong man to go in this scandal. On Feb. 6, 2007, McNulty told a Senate panel that most of the ousted prosecutors were fired for "performance-related" issues. But as the performance records of the fired attorneys became public, it was revealed that nearly all of them held positive job evaluations from the Department of Justice. One fired U.S. attorney -- Nevada's Daniel Bogden -- said that in a phone conversation with McNulty prior to his firing he was told performance "did not enter into the equation" as a reason for his dismissal. McNulty also told Congress that "the decision to fire the eight U.S. attorneys in December was made solely by the Justice Department. He was furious, aides said, after learning later that [Gonzales' chief of staff Kyle] Sampson had been talking to the White House about potential firings since at least January 2005." McNulty acknowledged providing inaccurate information to Congress about the dismissals, "but blamed the errors on inadequate preparation by others more deeply involved in the removals."

McNulty's testimony raises more questions about the account given to Congress by the attorney general. In his February testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, McNulty acknowledged during contentious testimony that fired U.S. attorney Bud Cummins had been let go simply because the administration wanted to name former Republican National Committee operative Timothy Griffin in his place. In that hearing, Schumer asked, "So, in other words, Bud Cummins was fired for no reason. There was no cause?" McNulty answered, "No cause provided in his case, as I am aware of it." That revelation sparked additional inquiries as Congress sought to determine whether the other firings were aimed at interfering with ongoing cases. One day after his testimony, a Justice Department spokesman sent an email to other aides saying Gonzales was "extremely upset" that McNulty acknowledged the true cause for the firing. While McNulty's testimony "infuriated" Gonzales, "eventually, McNulty's position proved to be correct."
Also, McNulty he says that before his initial congressional testimony, he was coached on what to say by none other than Karl Rove.

Meanwhile, WaPo's Dan Froomkin calls it:

The orders from the White House to any number of embattled senior administration officials appear to be the same: Hunker down, admit nothing, offer no appearance of panic and whatever you do, don't resign.

The penalty for violating those orders came more clearly into focus this morning. Just hours after Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty announced his resignation, his boss publicly stabbed him in the back.

McNulty, widely considered to have played only a supporting role in the controversial firings of U.S. attorneys last year, did his bosses the kindness yesterday of citing "financial pressures" as his reason for abruptly ending his long career in public service in the midst of a scandal.

But Attorney General Alberto Gonzales wasted no time in planting the knife. Although Gonzales has previously been vague to the point of cluelessness about the genesis of the firings, suddenly this morning the ambiguity was gone.
Hey, that's what I said...

Word has it McNulty got out of Dodge because he was sick of being linked to the Gonzogate scandal, something about which he may have had only cursory knowledge.

But that didn't stop Gonzo from stabbing him in the back.

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posted by JReid @ 7:07 PM  
Monday, May 14, 2007
McNulty to quit
Deputy attorney general tenders his resignation, leaving Albertcito to face the fury of Congress on his own.

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posted by JReid @ 8:01 PM  
Who fired the Gonzales Eight?
It would seem to be an obvious answer, given the nickname given the group of eight U.S. attorneys fired with the approval of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (that would be the GONZALES EIGHT...)
But as Gonzo's most recent testimony before the House Judiciary Committee demonstrates, he either had no idea why he was approving the firings, or he knew and now won't say. Mr. Gonzales claims that while he "takes full responsibility" for dumping the eight attorneys as part of what's being called the Pearl Harbor day massacre, he has no idea who recommended the eight to be let go. Like a children's game, Florida Rep. Robert Wexler walked Gonzo through a list of people who Gonzales says didn't do it:

It wasn't George W. Bush...
It wasn't Dick Cheney...
It wasn't Alberto Gonzales...
It wasn't Kyle Sampson...
It wasn't former Deputy Attorney General James Comey...
It wasn't Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty...
It might have been Kyle Sampson ... but of course Fredo doesn't know for sure because he hasn't talked to him about it, even though he signed off on the firing and Sampson was supposedly in charge of the ... never mind... let's just hear from the idiot:

Gonzales: Out of respect for the integrity of this investigation and the investigations occurring at the Department of Justice, I have not made that inquiry with respect to other fact witnesses.

Wexler: But you were OK with firing them, but you won't tell us who made the recommendation to fire them.

Gonzales: I think I was justified in relying upon the senior leadership in the department ... Let me just say this: I did not make the decision with respect to Mr. Iglesias ...

Wexler: I know. You haven't made any decision ... You have been very clear about that.

Gonzales: I accept full responsibility for this.

Wexler: But you won't tell us who put Mr. Iglesias on that list?

Gonzales: You would have a better opportunity to access ...

Wexler: I would?

Gonzales: The committee would, the Congress.

Wexler: Are you the attorney general? Do you run the Department of Justice?

Why no, Mr. Wexler, Monica Goodling runs the Department of Justice, on behalf of the Republican Party. Immunity, anyone?

Oh, and who recommended the firing of the Gonzales Eight? Clearly it was Karl Rove, and it was done because of Rove's and various GOP Congressmen's complaints that the attorneys wouldn't play ball in Rove's phony voter fraud scheme to influence the 2006 midterm elections. But the administration would rather leave Albertcito twisting in the wind until the very end in order to save Turd Blossom.

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posted by JReid @ 8:22 AM  
Friday, May 04, 2007
Gonzogate turning into Rovegate?
The closer the Gonzalesgate scandal moves to White House advisor Karl Rove, the more tenuous Albercito's job prospects have got to be. I missed the mark on Alberto Gonzales losing his job by last month's end, but I still believe the White House will cut him loose at a convenient time, all the better to protect Rove from a nasty subpoena.

The latest news from the WaPo drags us closer to that moment:
WASHINGTON -- A senior Justice Department official who testified about performance shortcomings of several fired U.S. attorneys has told congressional investigators he was coached the day before at a White House meeting attended by political adviser Karl Rove.

The witness, Associate Deputy Attorney General William Moschella, said he was urged during the dinner hour meeting on March 5 to publicly specify reasons for the dismissals, according to a transcript of the investigators' April 24 interview with him.
Until the March 6 hearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee, Justice Department officials had said publicly only that some of the firings were based on performance, offering no specifics. At the hearing, Moschella laid out detailed criticism of each of five fired prosecutors' specific performance.

Moschella's boss, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, told investigators in an April 27 interview that he also was at the March 5 White House meeting and that Rove was there. McNulty recalled Moschella being told to be sure to lay out the justifications for the firings, according to the transcript of his interview by investigators.
Deputy White House spokeslady Dana Perino was at the meeting, too, but of course, being a press secretary and all, she has no idea who else was there or what was said...

Meanwhile, there's news on the former number two at Justice, James Comey, the man made famous, at least in my book, for showing common sense hesitation on the Bushian NSA warantless wiretapping program while he stood in for an ailing John Ashcroft (who was famously accosted in his sick bed by none other than Al Gonzales, then the White House counsel, along with Andy Card. The two wanted the seriously ill Ashcroft to overrule Comey's objections and let the warrentless eavesdropping on Americans go forward. Apparently Comey was not let in on the plans to fire the U.S. attorneys who had refused to play ball with Bush and Gonzo's election rigging voter fraud scheme. Perhaps after all the NSA nastiness "back in the day," Albertcito just didn't trust Comey to play ball...

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posted by JReid @ 8:23 PM  
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Paging Monica Goodling
Fifth Amendment Monica gets immunity for her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on the Gonzalesgate affair. And it just gets worse for the Bushies:

By 21-10, the House oversight committee voted to issue a subpoena to Rice to compel her story on the Bush administration's claim, now discredited, that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.

Moments earlier in the committee chamber next door, the House Judiciary Committee voted 32-6 to grant immunity to Monica Goodling, Gonzales' White House liaison, for her testimony on why the administration fired eight federal prosecutors. The panel also unanimously approved — but did not issue — a subpoena to compel her to appear.

Simultaneously across Capitol Hill, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved — but did not issue — a subpoena on the prosecutors' matter to Sara Taylor, deputy to presidential adviser Karl Rove.

And in case Gonzales thought the worst had passed with his punishing testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the chairman and top Republican issued a new demand: Refresh the memory that Gonzales claimed had failed him 71 times during the seven-hour session.

"Provide the answers to the questions you could not recall last Thursday," Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and ranking Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, wrote to Gonzales on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Fredo, as Dubya calls Albertcito, is learning to handle the sting of rejection:

...Gonzales tried Wednesday to mend fences on Capitol Hill. He met with a key critic, Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., who has complained that Gonzales was not truthful with him over the dismissal of Bud Cummins, the former U.S. attorney in Little Rock, Ark.

But his outreach apparently didn't take.

"I reiterated with the attorney general, face-to-face, that I think he should resign," Pryor told reporters in a conference call after meeting with Gonzales in Washington. "I think it's the best thing for the Department of Justice and it's probably the best thing for him personally and the administration."
Owie.

Meanwhile, there's more on the dirt that the Justice Department was up to when it was supposed to be looking out for the interests of the American people...

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posted by JReid @ 4:04 PM  
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
The steel trap
The Bush administration is digging in. With the president's approval ratings and credibility in the toilet, and his legacy hanging by a thread because of the incompetence of Iraq, compounded by the incompetence of Katrina, the incompetence of running the economy, immigration policy, etc., etc., etc., the administration has chosen to barricade itself in, and swing wildly at all comers like a bear with one leg caught in a steel trap, whether it's on Alberto Gonzales, on Iraq war funding, on timetables, or on Congressional oversight in any form (they don't want it, duh...)

So which fights can the White House win, if the Democrats dig in, too, and as the mechanisms of oversight inevitably kick in? I see the walls slowly closing in on this administration, but I am becoming increasingly convinced that they plan to hunker down, Nixon style, and cling to one another as the ship goes down. First, the walls falling. Let me count the ways:

1. Iraq propaganda. The lies of Iraq are now glaringly obvious, and perhaps the most egregious is the lies about heroism, by Jessica Lynch, by Pat Tillman -- both legitimate heroes due to their service, but each of whom were used cynically by a Pentagon desperate to sell the war to an increasingly skeptical public. Tillman's brother testified before Congress today, along with the a fellow Ranger who was with the former NFL star when he was cut down by friendly fire, and who was ordered not to tell Tillman's brother, Kevin (who was in a nearby convoy in the same Army convoy) what he knew, and of course, Ms. Lynch, who to her credit, refused to play along with the administration's glorification of her back in the early days of the war, in 2003. Their words about the administration were damning.

2. Investigation of Karl Rove. Finally, Rove becomes the direct target of an investigation, this time by the Office of Special Counsel, which, incidentally, has the power to subpoena White House officials, with the exception of the President and Vice President, according to former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, who filed the complaint which got the ball rolling. Rove is being probed for possibly violating the Hatch Act, by firing Iglesias while the latter was performing his service in the Reserves. Rove is also being looked at for the alleged distribution of RNC email accounts to White House staffers to do political work they shouldn't have been doing on taxpayer time.

3. Albertogate. The Bushies are circling the wagons around the attorney general, but increasingly, the wagons are few and far between. Sources inside and outside the White House -- Republican sources -- are apparently privately pushing for him to go. One reason Bush may be hanging on tight: if Alberto resigns, the White House may fear that the Dems will next set their sights on Mr. "Don't Touch Me, Sheryl Crow!"

4. War funding. President Bush threw down the gauntlet on war funding and timetables today, in his own, Bushly sombar way, announcing unsurprisingly that he will veto the bill passed by the Congress to fund the war. The Bushies have clearly made the decision to try and throw Iraq over to the Dems, by making them the scapegoats for cutting off the funds. It seems to me that the Democrats have no choice but to come back fighting, too. If they fold, they give the Bushies ammunition to keep being recalcitrant, and to continue defying the will of the American people. Seemingly odd strategic choice: deployiing Five Deferrments Dick to take shots at Congress over matters of war. But for the White House to put forward the supremely unpopular veep, clearly indicates that they are no longer playing for the support of the American people (they probably understand that such support is lost to the ages) -- they are desperately kow-towing to the most extreme elements of their base, who love Cheney, and who want to see George W. Bush fight like a man.

By the way, here's what the president is vetoing, and Democrats should never let him forget it, not for a single day:
The bill approved $123.2 billion, with the vast majority — $96 billion — going to the Defense Department, mostly to continue military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also included a $1 billion increase for the National Guard and Reserve and $1.1 billion for improvements to military housing. The bill also has $5.75 billion for programs overseen by the State Department, with $3.2 billion of that for Iraq.
More on the bill here.

Update: Further proof that the White House has abandoned the vast majority of the American public, and is now playing strictly to the crazies: the rhetoric of the forward men for the Iraq project is getting more and more desperate. Beyond the despicable and cowardly Cheney, there's also the criminal Tom Delay, who went straight for the "treason" card, and the idiotic Bush sycophant Glenn Beck, who bet the farm this week, saying per the ThinkP headline: "Iraq Withdrawal Would Be ‘America’s Most Shameful Act Of Immorality Since Slavery’... right...

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posted by JReid @ 7:49 PM  
Monday, April 23, 2007
Miss Piggy takes on the Warming Sisters. Oh, and Rich Little? Not funny...
The White House correspondents dinner is history, and the big news? Not the comedian. Not this year. Rich Little just didn't bring the funny. In fact, correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall Mr. Little ever being funny ... no?


But I'll tell you who did: Laurie David and Sheryl Crow, hereafter to be known as the global warming Thelma and Louise... The two women attempted to accost Karl Rove to take his temperature on global warming, and instead were shooed away by Her Majesty with a haughty "don't touch me!" (What? No "bitches"???) All questions about why any man wouldn't want to be touched by Sheryl Crow might want to consult the nearest cast of La Cage a Folles... bitches...


The spat has become quite the talk on the blogosphere. Limbaugh is havingquite a field day with it, along with Ms. Crow's apparent "one sheet of toilet paper" rule. And no, Rosie, absolutely no one wants to picture your ass. (shudder!) Of course, what Crowe advocates: "only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where two to three could be required"... makes perfect sense ... if you're a chihuahua... otherwise, you're going to need at least two to five...


But back to Karl Rove. Miss Piggy apparently felt slighted by the intrusion on Her Majesty's dinner, to which the successor to Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan, perhaps best known as Seniorita Douchebag, declares: respect the president ... ! ... er... his pudgy friend.


And for God sakes, let Sanjaya eat!!!

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posted by JReid @ 8:37 PM  
Saturday, April 07, 2007
Goodbye, Goodling, see you in at the hearings!
Monica Goodling, pictured with Karl Rove

Another story I didn't get a chance to put up yesterday: The surprise unsurprising resignation Friday of former Alberto Gonzales aide Monica Goodling, the Messiah Bible college and Pat Robertson-founded law school alum and apparent firing queen of Gonzogate, who had asserted that she would refuse to testify before the House and Senate judiciary committees and would instead assert her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination (something about which many lawyers are quite dubious...) making her the first Justice Department official in the history of the body to do so and remain employed.

Goodling, who was the Justice Department's White House liaison, becomes the third administration official to resign over the firings of the Gonzales 8, Karl Rove look-alike Kyle Sampson and former director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys Michael Battle having gone before. Goodling's abrupt resignation, no reason given, won't get her off the hook. John Conyers has indicated he still intends to call her before the House Judiciary Committee, as early as next week. Ditto for Pat Leahy on the Senate side. As some legal analysts have said on cable-chat, the committees should call Ms. Goodling before them, and make her take the Fifth on television. Or as others have suggested, subpoena her, and throw her in jail for contempt of Congress if she refuses to appear. Running away from your job won't get you off the hot seat, dear.


Meanwhile, the Muckrakers take a peek into what an actual "loyal Bushie" in the U.S. Attorneys office looks like...

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posted by JReid @ 3:30 PM  
Sunday, April 01, 2007
Poor Orrin Hatch
Apparently, he was the only GOPer willing to play the president's bag man on Gonzalesgate. He's on Meet the Press right now embarrassing himself, trying to carry the administration's water, and being picked clean by Pat Leahy. (Hatch even did his best fulmination, going after Carol Lam as failing to do her job in southern California, and then when it got really hot, Hatch played the race card, pointing out that Gonzales is "the first Hispanic attorney general of the United States." And when confronted with his own intervention to stymie the firing of a U.S. attorney in his home state, (a man named Warren) he seemed frankly flabbergasted. It was a near Pat Roberts performance for Hatch, who comes off as an unexpurgated hack and White House shill.

Unfortunately, Tim Russert continues to lose my respect, by his glaring failure to point out to the audience that Kyle Sampson, the doughy Karl Rove lookalike whose testimony last week made it plain that Alberto Gonzales lied in his March 13 press conference when he said he played no role in the firings, used to work for Hatch.

It's a shame that a sitting United States Senator would sell himself so cheap (hell, these guys don't even get paid to do the Sunday chat shows.) It's an even greater shame that someone in Russert's position would play such a Senator's enabler.

Then came a wierd moment when Russert asked Hatch if the president came to him and asked him to replace Gonzales as attorney general, would he do it. Hatch aw shucks'd it pretty well, but clearly, he would make a perfect replacement, in that he would be as much the president's water boy as Gonzales ever was. In other words, there wouldn't be a dime's worth of difference between Alberto and Orrin.

Back to reality, Pat Leahy had the line of the morning, when he responded to one of Hatch's shill sessions by stating that it seems Orrin remembers what day today is. (April fools!) But on the subject of Hatch as the next A.G., Leahy did that line one better, and gave an interesting window into Orrin's possible motivation for playing hand puppet to the White House this morning:

RUSSERT: Would Senator Hatch be an acceptible replacement for Mr. Gonzales?

LEAHY: The rumor on the Hill this week is that he was actively running for it ... but I'm gonna have to leave that to him...
Fascinating...

Meanwhile, on the other end of the dial, Mitch McConnell proves he can't even make the okey dokey dance look good on Fox ...

And the WaPo goes inside the minds of White House attorney general pickers...

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posted by JReid @ 10:21 AM  
Sunday, March 25, 2007
I, scapegoat
With the White House doing the opposite of damage control by insisting that the president will hang on to Alberto no matter what, I'm finding it more and more interesting to start looking at the supporting cast in the Gonzogate melodrama. So while we're looking, we might as well start with the Lee Harvey Oswald of this tawdry tale...

So who is Kyle Sampson, and what is his strange relationship to the obscure Patriot Act provision that got us into this mess in the first place?

Sampson, a Utah Mormon, had been John Ashcroft's deputy when he was attorney general. He has been friends since law school (at the University of Chicago) with Dick Cheney's daughter Elizabeth (the straight one...) After Ashcroft stepped down following the 2004 election, Gonzales helped guide nominee Alberto Gonzales through Senate confirmation, and would later do the same for President Bush's SupCo nominees. And while he is now the administration's designated scapegoat, Sampson's hometown paper, the Salt Lake Tribune, and other news outlets report the following about his role in Gonzogate, picking up from the time of Ashcroft's post-election exit:


About that time, the suggestion was floated that a number of U.S. attorneys could be replaced with Bush loyalists. Sampson opposed wholesale change but by March 2005 sent a list of targeted prosecutors to White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
And then it gets interesting...

Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney for Utah Paul Warner announced in January 2006 he would become a federal magistrate, opening a spot Sampson had long sought.
An e-mail released Thursday suggests that Sampson may have tried to push Warner out of the job in early 2005 but was rebuffed by Hatch.

With Warner stepping aside in 2006, Sampson lined up the support of Gonzales and others, but Hatch recommended Brett Tolman, a former assistant U.S. attorney in Utah who was working for the Judiciary Committee at the time for Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter.

Tolman, who ultimately got the job, had in March 2006 added language to the Patriot Act renewal, at the Justice Department's request, to allow the White House to replace U.S. attorneys without Senate consent.

So Tolman wrote the provision that allowed Gonzo to mount his political purge of U.S. attorneys, and then Tolman became one of the newly minted U.S. attorneys... interesting...

As for Sampson, he could be giving voluntary sworn testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee as early as this week.

Meanwhile, Hill Republicans are continuing to walk away from Alberto, and the right wing blogosphere is starting to skate on Gonzo as well. The Carpetbagger ferrets out a few good examples, including the very succinct Ed Morrissey:
Have we had enough yet? I understand the argument that if we allow the Democrats to bounce Gonzales, they’ll just aim for more, but Gonzales made himself the target here with what looks like blatant deception. I don’t think we do ourselves any good by defending the serially changing stories coming out of Gonzales’ inept administration at Justice. One cannot support an Attorney General who misleads Congress, allows his staffers to mislead Congress, and deceives the American people, regardless of whether an R or a D follows his name or the majority control of Congress.
... and the always sane Rick Moran of Right Wing Nut House:
I will brook no excuses by commenters that Gonzalez “misspoke,” or “forgot,” or “got a note from his mother” that gave him permission to lie, or other excuses from the ever dwindling number of Bush diehards who visit this site . He is the frickin’ Attorney General of the United States fer crissakes! If there is anybody in government who needs to tell the truth, it is the guy responsible for enforcing the laws of land.
I give these righties credit for intellectual honesty. Maybe one of them will wrestle the Kool-Aid out of the hot little hands of the die-hard Bushies at Wizbang. Hell, even Michelle has gone south on Gonzo, (I'd hate to think it was because he's so suspiciously Mexican, Mizz Malkin) though she hasn't seen fit to blog about the controversy in a week ... and Miss Twit is positively apoplectic over the dropped P.R. ball (but of course, not about the lying...)

Back to the 'Bagger, who asks the right pertinent questions:
* A Republican leadership staffer told Roll Call this week, “We are not throwing ourselves on the grenade for them anymore. There’s now an attitude of ‘you created this mess, you’ve got to get yourself out of it.’”

After watching conservatives back Bush on everything from Iraq to Plame to illegal NSA wiretaps to Katrina, have we finally found the one thing the right isn’t willing to defend? And if so, isn’t it safe to assume the political pressure on the White House will be even more intense?

And if that’s so, exactly how bad is this going to get for the Bush gang?
I'd say rather worse, until they learn the central lesson of public relatons: when you're caught in a crisis in which you don't control the variables (i.e., there's more information out there that could come out to bite you, and you don't control it,) the best way to stanch the bleeding is to stop fighting, apologize, and give your critics something big. In this case, the thing to give the critics would be Gonzales' head, and the more the White House resists, the more protracted this scandal will become. I suspect that before the White House has to relent to allowing Bush's Brain to be put under oath (which will further escalate this scandal) they'll throw Alberto overboard.

The clock is still ticking...

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posted by JReid @ 7:56 PM  
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Suffer the children
NBC News is reporting that the Senate Judiciary Committee has written a letter to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, asking the Bushies to reiterate whether their lame, no-transcript, no oaths, private "meet and greet" offer is their final offer.

Meanwhile, Albertcito says he must stay on as attorney general ... for the children...
GONZALES: I’m not going to resign. I’m going to stay focused on protecting our kids. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done around the country. The department is responsible for protecting our kids, for making our neighborhoods safe, for protecting our country against attacks of terrorism, to going after gangs, going after drug dealers. I’m staying focussed on that. ...
Ah, the children. Thank God they've got Alberto to take care of them. Let's just hope they're "Bushie" enough to actually merit his aid...

Oh, and the Senate OK'd the issuance of subpoenas today, just like the House did yesterday.

And guess who the next Senate Judiciary Committee star witness is going to be? Hellooooo, Kyle Sampson!

Meanwhile, TPMM rounds up a few hot takes on where this thing could go next...

Prevous:

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posted by JReid @ 4:35 PM  
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Fall into the gap
Someone dig up Dick Nixon.
First spotted by a commenter on the blog Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall reports there is an 18-day gap in the over 3,000 emails released by the Department of Justice pertaining to the attorney firing scandal.

The gap covers the days between November 15 and December 4, 2006. So far, only one email has been found dated within the 18 days among those released in Monday night's document dump. The lone email, from November 29, 2006, was one forwarded by Justice official Michael Elston to a fellow staffer asking for an attached review document to be printed.

"The firing calls went out on December 7th. But the original plan was to start placing the calls on November 15th," notes Marshall. "So those eighteen days are pretty key ones."

Politico reporters Mike Allen and John Bresnahan also picked up on the gap. They surmise that the missing communication covers "a critical period, as the White House and Justice Department reviewed -- then approved -- which U.S. attorneys would be fired, while also developing a political and communications strategy for countering any fallout from the firings."
This damned thing just gets better and better...

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posted by JReid @ 8:57 PM  
A warning to the White House
"There are enough disgruntled employees at Justice ... that the information is going to come out. The White House needs to decide if it's going to come out 'drip, drip, drip' or if they're going to get it all out." -- Senator Chuck Schumer, appearing on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on Wednesday

Chuck Schumer did his best Tony Soprano tonight, commenting on the White House's ridiculous 'offer the Congress can't accept' -- which can be paraphrased as "sure, you can talk to our staffers, but you can't record it, create transcripts, or put them under oath"...

Clearly, the Dems aren't going to go for that okey-doke. And the White House is sounding awfully desperate with those "please accept our generous offer" entreaties.

Why?

Because they know, just as Schumer knew when he made the above comment to Keith, that there will be more disclosures.

Case in point:
As former U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins has written, "Once the public detects partisanship in one important decision, they will follow the natural inclination to question every decision made, whether there is a connection or not."

Today, the nonpartisan congressional watchdog Democracy 21 sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty asking whether there had been political interference in the investigation and prosecution of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

"Based on issues that have been raised in the firing of the eight U.S Attorneys , we're all in a position to want some assurance that there hasn't been political interference in the case," Fred Wertheimer, Democracy 21's president, told me. "This still remains the worse congressional corruption scandal in 30 years. There are lesser players who have been convicted. But there are still big players here, including sitting and former members of Congress whose cases apparently have not yet been resolved. "
And case in double point:
In a detailed, 10-page letter to Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) signed by Kathleen Sullivan, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, and Paul Twomey, a lawyer for the Democrats, they argue that the investigation, which targeted prominent operatives in the Republican Party, was stalled and mishandled.

On Election Day in 2002, Republicans schemed to jam the phone banks for Democratic get out the vote efforts. Two Republicans involved in the plan pled guilty, and James Tobin, formerly the New England Regional Political Director for the Republican National Committee, was convicted for his role. The case took years to play out; the first guilty pleas in the case were not until the summer of 2004, and Tobin was not indicted until after the 2004 election.

One of the reasons the investigation was stalled, Democrats argue, is that "all decisions had to be reviewed by the Attorney General himself" -- first John Ashcroft and then Alberto Gonzales. To back up that claim, the Democrats say that lawyers working on the case were told by prosecutors that delays in the case were due to the extreme difficulty in obtaining authorization from higher levels at DOJ for any and all actions in the case.

A lawyer for one of the Republicans in the case backs up that claim. John Durken, the lawyer for Allen Raymond, a Republican whose consulting firm managed the jamming, says that the lead prosecutor in the case told him during one meeting that Ashcroft was involved in every decision. "He said, 'Every decision in this case goes all the way up to Ashcroft’s desk.'" Durken told me that such a fact didn't "surprise" him, given the political nature of the case.

... The Democrats' other grievances, which they lay out in the letter, are 1) that the Justice Department bogged the investigation down by assigning only one FBI agent to the case -- and that agent was part-time 2) that the DoJ's refusal to prosecute the organziations responsible for the jamming, the New Hampshire Republican Party and the Republican National Committee, violated Justice Department guidelines, and 3) the DoJ failed to follow leads that led to higher-level Republican involvement.

Drip ... drip ... drip...

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posted by JReid @ 8:41 PM  
Here come the subpoenas
... the House acts.
Dividing along partisan lines, a subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee has voted to authorize subpoenas for Karl Rove, Harriet Miers, and other senior White House aides as part of the congressional investigation into the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys.

The commerical and administrative law subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.), also authorized document subpoenas for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, White House Chief of Staff Jashua Bolton, and White House Counsel Fred Fielding.

Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) now can issue the subpoenas whenever he wants, although he indicated at the hearing that Democrats were still negotiating with Fielding on getting Rove. the White House deputy chief of staff, and Miers, the former White House counsel, to testify under oath before the panel on the firings.

"We don't have a timetable" for issuing the subpoenas, Conyers told reporters following the hearing.

Conyers, Sanchez, and other Democrats on the Judiciary have rejected an offer by Fielding to allow Rove, Miers, William Kelley, deputy White House counsel, and J. Scott Jennings, a special assistant to President Bush in the White House political affairs office, be interviewed informally by members and committee staff. Under Fielding's proposal, those interviews would not take place under oath, and a White House lawyers would be present.

Sanchez complained that Fielding's proposal "allows limited access to witnesses, no access to key documents, and no testimony under oath. We have worked toward voluntary cooperation on this investigation, but we must prepare for the possibility that the Justice Department and White House will continue to hide the truth."

Conyers said having the subpoenas ready to go acts like "a backstop" in the panel's negotiations with Fielding, and he pointed out that the Justice Department had failed to meet a Friday deadline to turn over all documents in its possession related to the firings. Democrats complained that the 3,000 pages of documents turned over by Justice on Monday night are heavily redacted.

The Senate Judiciary Committee debates following suit tomorrow.

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posted by JReid @ 4:14 PM  
Ten steps to the door
It's here, it's now, it's "wow" ... it's the Gonzometer! Current setting for likelihood of Albertcito's unceremonious exit: 55 percent.

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posted by JReid @ 7:13 AM  
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Punt ... or kick?
Update: Here's a link to the text of Bush's presser today regarding Gonzalesgate. So far, Dubya is taking a defiant posture, although I detected more fight in him regarding Karl Rove than Al Gonzales at his feisty media avail.

Today I'm also announcing the following steps my administration is taking to correct the record and demonstrate our willingness to work with the Congress. First, the Attorney General and his key staff will testify before the relevant congressional committees to explain how the decision was made and for what reasons. Second, we're giving Congress access to an unprecedented variety of information about the process used to make the decision about replacing eight of the 93 U.S. attorneys.

In the last 24 hours, the Justice Department has provided the Congress more than 3,000 pages of internal Justice Department documents, including those reflecting direct communications with White House staff. This, in itself, is an extraordinary level of disclosure of an internal agency in White House communications.

Third, I recognize there is significant interest in the role the White House played in the resignations of these U.S. attorneys. Access to White House staff is always a sensitive issue. The President relies upon his staff to provide him candid advice. The framers of the Constitution understood this vital role when developing the separate branches of government. And if the staff of a President operated in constant fear of being hauled before various committees to discuss internal deliberations, the President would not receive candid advice, and the American people would be ill-served.

Yet, in this case, I recognize the importance of members of Congress having -- the importance of Congress has placed on understanding how and why this decision was made. So I'll allow relevant committee members on a bipartisan basis to interview key members of my staff to ascertain relevant facts. In addition to this offer, we will also release all White House documents and emails involving direct communications with the Justice Department or any other outside person, including members of Congress and their staff, related to this issue. These extraordinary steps offered today to the majority in Congress demonstrate a reasonable solution to the issue. However, we will not go along with a partisan fishing expedition aimed at honorable public servants.
Let's rewind that last paragraph ...

In addition to this offer, we will also release all White House documents and emails involving direct communications with the Justice Department or any other outside person, including members of Congress and their staff, related to this issue.Might I interpret that as a threat if I were a Republican member of Congress considering coming out against the attorney general? Yes, I might.
Okay, now, let's re-set. The president is going to prevent Karl Rove from testifying. He's going to protect him. Al Gonzales on the other hand, is going to the Hill, and apparently, Bushie is giving him one last chance to save his job. But will it work? Well, there's the latest reporting from the good folks at The Politico:

The White House and top GOP officials are bracing for a lengthy battle over executive privilege and the likely resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in the escalating fight over the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, several key Republicans said Tuesday.

With Democrats demanding public testimony of top White House aides, including Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and the White House insisting on private interviews only, the GOP officials said the controversy over the fired prosecutors is likely to intensify and prompt Gonzales to step aside.

President Bush on Tuesday called Gonzales, offering a public show of support. And White House press secretary Tony Snow said that news reports about a search for a replacement were "flat false."

But people involved in the process to sound out potential replacements for Gonzales said they had not talked to Snow. A GOP loyalist close to the White House said the process went on ice after Bush made his call to Gonzales. "They were reaching out," the operative said. "Now, we're in lockdown. We're just waiting. They've reached out to everyone they need to reach out to and are waiting to get a 'yes' from someone."

The operative assumption, the GOP source said, is that Gonzales will go but that he will do so on his own schedule. The first stage in finding a replacement is gauging who is available among the well-established lawyers under consideration, most of whom have previously been confirmed by the Senate. "I think it is going to come down to who is willing to take the job," said the source.

Meanwhile, support for Gonzales on Capitol Hill continued to wane. A member of the House Republican leadership, speaking on the condition of anonymity at a luncheon with 13 reporters, spoke scathingly of the "drip, drip, drip" produced by the furor over the attorneys.

"I can't imagine that he's going to be around a whole lot longer," said the House Republican leader. "It seems like a leak about developing a short list of replacements, combined with a direct call from the president, are sort of the two indications that your days are numbered. I just don't see him lasting through this current maelstrom.
So is Bush kicking Gonzales or punting? So far, he's punting?
Bush's call essentially leaves it up to Gonzales whether to try to hang on to his office at a time when Democratic lawmakers are gunning for him and many Republicans have given up on him.

A Republican source said Tuesday that Bush is "unmoved," and that Gonzales will not be pushed out or fired. Bush telephoned him from the Oval Office at 7:15 a.m., and aides said he "reaffirmed his strong support and backing" for his longtime friend and aide.
Tick ... tick ... tick...

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posted by JReid @ 9:25 PM  
Showdown
The White House is preparing for a showdown with Congress over Gonzalesgate. The Bushies say they are willing to provide public enemies number 1 and 2 (Karl Rove and Harriet Miers), for "interviews" -- but not for testimony -- and not under oath. That won't wash with Pat Leahy and company. Not even a little bit.

According to updated reporting by The Politco's Mike Allen, the White House also ordered the search by GOP surrogates for possible Gonzales replacements to stop -- at least publicly, and at least for now.

Bush is making a tough sounding statement to the press right now, saying he will oppose any attempts to subpoena White House officials, and to avoid giving in to a "partisan fishing expedition." Apparently, Bush is taking his cues from right wing bloggers, who are urging him to fight back, rather than capitulate to the growing Gonzales scandal. The next step will be to begin reigning in renegate Republican lawmakers, who are joining to "dump Gonzales" bandwagon (the latest was Tom Tancredo today).

The saga continues...

Meanwhile, the Senate has already stripped the A.G.'s office of the power (via an obscure provision in the Patriot Act II which was inserted by an operative placed, probably by Karl Rove, into the staff of Arlen Specter) to appoint interim U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation. And the House Judiciary Committee is mulling stripping the FBI of some Patriot Act powers over its abuses of warrentless searches.

Back to Gonzalesgate. What's behind all the posturing? The WaPo's Dan Froomkin reports:

President Bush's message of support this morning for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has all the trappings of a carefully staged hail-Mary, with the president giving his friend one last chance to rally enough Republican support to ride out the storm.

But the indications remain that Bush may well toss Gonzales overboard, especially if that's the only way he can see to prevent the scandal from being pursued deeper into the West Wing.

Or, as Ed Henry reported on CNN this morning: "As one top Republican told me last night, a Republican close to the White House, saying basically the handwriting is on the wall for Gonzales. And the bottom line is if this White House has to choose between protecting Karl Rove or protecting Alberto Gonzales in order for this controversy to go away, they'll choose Karl Rove, protecting him. Because the bottom line is they can get another attorney general, they can't get another Karl Rove. He's got his hands in so many things here. He's the lead adviser to the president."

So what will win out? Republican pragmatism or a stubborn president who is now Alberto Gonzales' only supporter? And can Bush's loyalty make a severely wounded attorney general an effective judicial advocate when he has lost the confidence of literally everyone else?

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posted by JReid @ 5:49 PM  
Cunningham on the Lam
The Daily Background has begun sifting through the White House docu-dump and here's what they've found so far:
Exclusive: Cunningham complained about Lam to Attorney General before he plead guilty

Among the documents buried in the enormous document dump, The Daily Background has discovered, is an letter from 19 members of Congress to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales concerning then-US Attorney Carol Lam. Lam was at the time involved in a high-profile corruption investigation Republican Representative Randy “Duke” Cunningham.

The 19 members of Congress wrote Gonzales in October of 2005 complaining that they felt Lam was too lax on illegal immigration. One of the members of Congress who signed the letter complaining about Lam was Congressman Cunningham, who is now serving an eight year prison term after Lam successfully prosecuted him.

Barely a month after the 19 Congressmen (Cunningham included) requested to meet with Gonzales specifically to complain about Lam’s prosecution policy on immigration-related matters, Cunningham plead guilty to two felony counts of criminal conspiracy and tax evasion.

At the time Cunningham and the other 18 Congressmen complained about Lam, Cunningham was still claiming innocence in the corruption probe that had intensified just as the complaint to Attorney General Gonzales was made.

“The U.S. Attorney in San Diego has stated that the office will not prosecute a criminal alien unless they have previously been convicted of two felonies in the district” the letter of complaint read. Lam, the was the US Attorney for Southern California at the time, and had received favorable job reviews from the Department of Justice before she was fired after successfully convicting Cunningham.

The Department of Justice had previously said in a written review of her work that Lam was “An effective manager and respected leader… [her] Strategic Plan and District Priorities were appropriate.” One of Lam’s priorities was perusing the corruption investigation that saw Cunningham in prison and the indictments of three other alleged coconspirators.
More to come...

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posted by JReid @ 8:35 AM  
Albertcito
Poor Alberto ... he cooperated in a White House scheme to take out U.S. attorneys who weren't exhibiting sufficient loyalty to the president -- loyalty, apparently best shown by prosecuting Democrats and holding back on corrupt Republicans in advance of the 2006 midterm elections. Now, Alberto's head is on the chopping block, while the probably mastermind of the scheme, Karl Rove, will, as in the Scooter Libby debacle, get off scott free.

The latest developments:

First, from the outfit that broke this story in the first place, Joshua Micah Marshall's TPM Muckraker, we have last night's document dump by the Bush administration, which consists of 3,000 pages of emails related to the U.S. attorney purge. TPMM is asking its readers to help them sift through the pile. You can do so here.

Next, comes the increasing distance between the White House, Hill Republicans, movement conservatives, and hell, apparently everybody, from the increasingly isolated AG. Case in point:

Q You said this morning that you hope that -- the White House hopes that Alberto Gonzales stays as Attorney General. Your comment has been seen as a rather tepid endorsement. Has he --

MR. SNOW: No, I didn't --

Q Has he offered his resignation?

MR. SNOW: No, he hasn't. Let me -- a couple of things. And the President has not spoken to him since he spoke to him in Mexico. What I was trying to do is, you ask a hypothetical question about things that are going to happen over the next two years. None of us knows what's going to happen to us over the next 21 months, and that's why it's an impossible question to answer: Will somebody stay throughout? However, the reason I said, we hope so, is we hope so. He has the confidence of the President. But I do not -- as a pure and simple matter, nobody is prophetic enough to know what the next 21 months hold.

Q And there's backing away from him?

MR. SNOW: No.

Q There's full confidence?

MR. SNOW: Yes. ...
Sure Tony. You're really selling it. Now for the hottest news of the day, from The Politico:

Republican officials operating at the behest of the White House have begun seeking a possible successor to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, whose support among GOP lawmakers on Capitol Hill has collapsed, according to party sources familiar with the discussions.

Among the names floated Monday by administration officials are Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and White House anti-terrorism coordinator Frances Townsend. Former Deputy Attorney General Larry Thompson is a White House prospect. So is former solicitor general Theodore B. Olson, but sources were unsure whether he would want the job.

On Monday night, Republican officials said two other figures who are being seriously considered are Securities and Exchange Committee Chairman Chris Cox, who is former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and is popular with conservatives; and former Attorney General William P. Barr, who served under President George H.W. Bush from 1991 to 1993 and is now general counsel of Verizon Communications.

Republican sources also disclosed that it is now a virtual certainty that Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty, whose incomplete and inaccurate congressional testimony about the prosecutors helped precipitate the crisis, will also resign shortly. Officials were debating whether Gonzales and McNulty should depart at the same time or whether McNulty should go a day or two after Gonzales. Still known as "The Judge" for his service on the Texas Supreme Court, Gonzales is one of the few remaining original Texans who came to Washington with President Bush.

In a sign of Republican despair, GOP political strategists on Capitol Hill said that it is too late for Gonzales' departure to head off a full-scale Democratic investigation into the motives and timing behind the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

"Democrats smell blood in the water, and (Gonzales') resignation won't stop them," said a well-connected Republican Senate aide. "And on our side, no one's going to defend him. All we can do is warn Democrats against overreaching."
And as I've said before:

A main reason Gonzales is finding few friends even among Republicans is that he has long been regarded with suspicion by conservatives who have questioned his ideological purity. In the past, these conservatives warned the White House against nominating him for the Supreme Court. Now they're using the controversy over the firing of eight federal prosecutors to take out their pent-up frustrations with how he has handled his leadership at Justice and how the White House has treated Congress.

Complaints range from his handling of immigration cases to his alleged ceding of power in the department to career officials instead of movement conservatives.

Still believeing Tony Snow?

Meanwhile, the House Judiciary Committee is also working on the concurrent Gonzales scandal involving the White House's scuttling of a probe of the Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program by denying the necessary security clearances. Read John Conyers' letter to Gonzales on the subject here.

And read all of the HJC's letters to the White House and A.G. here.

Oh, and just when you thought it couldn't get any muckier, there's this:

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald was ranked among prosecutors who had "not distinguished themselves" on a Justice Department chart sent to the White House in March 2005, when he was in the midst of leading the CIA leak investigation that resulted in the perjury conviction of a vice presidential aide, administration officials said yesterday.

The ranking placed Fitzgerald below "strong U.S. Attorneys . . . who exhibited loyalty" to the administration but above "weak U.S. Attorneys who . . . chafed against Administration initiatives, etc.," according to Justice documents.

The chart was the first step in an effort to identify U.S. attorneys who should be removed. Two prosecutors who received the same ranking as Fitzgerald were later fired, documents show.

Fitzgerald's ranking adds another dimension to the prosecutor firings, which began as a White House proposal to remove all 93 U.S. attorneys after the 2004 elections and evolved into the coordinated dismissal of eight last year, a move that has infuriated lawmakers and led to calls for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to resign.

The Justice Department last night gave the House and Senate Judiciary committees 3,000 pages of new documents related to the firings, including one e-mail that says Gonzales was "extremely upset" by Senate testimony Feb. 6 from his deputy, Paul J. McNulty. Gonzales felt that "some of the . . . statements were inaccurate," the e-mail says.

Justice officials said Gonzales specifically disagreed with McNulty's statement that a Little Rock prosecutor was fired to make way for a GOP operative. They also said the new documents show that political motivations were not a factor in the firings.

The latest revelations came amid reports that the White House has already launched a search for Gonzales's replacement and that support for the attorney general among Republicans in Congress is fading fast. One GOP strategist with close ties to the White House said last night that it is likely Gonzales will leave and that White House counsel Fred F. Fielding already has potential replacements in mind. ...
I wonder how Fitzy would have been ranked had he actually indicted Karl Rove. So does Fitzgerald really suck?
Mary Jo White, who supervised Fitzgerald when she served as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan and who has criticized the firings, said ranking him as a middling prosecutor "lacks total credibility across the board."

"He is probably the best prosecutor in the nation -- certainly one of them," said White, who worked in the Clinton and Bush administrations. "It casts total doubt on the whole process. It's kind of the icing on the cake."

Fitzgerald has been widely recognized for his pursuit of criminal cases against al-Qaeda's terrorist network before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and he drew up the official U.S. indictment against Osama bin Laden. He was named as special counsel in the CIA leak case in December 2003 by then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who had recused himself.

Fitzgerald also won the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service in 2002 under Ashcroft.
But he just isn't "Bushy" enough.

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posted by JReid @ 6:53 AM  
Monday, March 19, 2007
Before the firing
New emails elucidate the sinster connection between Foggo, of the nine fingers, and the doom of one of the Gonzales Eight. Sayeth the WaPo:

The U.S. attorney in San Diego notified the Justice Department of search warrants in a Republican bribery scandal last May 10, one day before the attorney general's chief of staff warned the White House of a "real problem" with her, a Democratic senator said yesterday.

The prosecutor, Carol S. Lam, was dismissed seven months later as part of an effort by the Justice Department and the White House to fire eight U.S. attorneys.

A Justice spokesman said there was no connection between Lam's firing and her public corruption investigations, and pointed to criticisms of Lam for her record on prosecuting immigration cases.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said in a television appearance yesterday that Lam "sent a notice to the Justice Department saying that there would be two search warrants" in a criminal investigation of defense contractor Brent R. Wilkes and Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, who had just quit as the CIA's top administrator amid questions about his ties to disgraced former GOP congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

The next day, May 11, D. Kyle Sampson, then chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, sent an e-mail message to William Kelley in the White House counsel's office saying that Lam should be removed as quickly as possible, according to documents turned over to Congress last week.

"Please call me at your convenience to discuss the following," Sampson wrote, referring to "[t]he real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires."

The FBI raided Foggo's home and former CIA office on May 12. He was indicted along with Wilkes on fraud and money-laundering charges on Feb. 13 -- two days before Lam left as U.S. attorney.

The revelation that Lam took a major step in the Foggo probe one day before Sampson's e-mail message was sent to the White House raises further questions about the decision to fire her, Feinstein suggested.

"There were clearly U.S. attorneys that were thorns in the side for one reason or another of the Justice Department," Feinstein said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "And they decided, by strategy, in one fell swoop, to get rid of seven of them on that day, December the 7th."

A Justice spokesman yesterday referred questions about the meaning of the "real problem" e-mail to Sampson's attorney, Bradford Berenson, who declined to comment.

Meanwhile, the good folks at Talking Points Memo's TPMMuckraker, who have been way out ahead of the MSM on this story, have uncovered the apparent golden rule of firing U.S. attorneys: the better they are, the faster they go. On the David Iglesias ouster:

It's becoming one of the central rules of the U.S. attorney purge scandal: whatever "performance related" complaint the administration claims as the justification for a U.S. attorney's firing, it's actually an area of performance for which that U.S. attorney was lauded.

In this instance, the White House has said that U.S. Attorney David Iglesias of New Mexico was removed in part due to his handling of voter fraud complaints. That's backed up by the numerous instances of powerful New Mexico Republicans (including Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM)) complaining to Karl Rove, Alberto Gonzales, and President Bush about Iglesias' decision not to prosecute certain cases of voter fraud.

What does this mean? It means that Iglesias must have been lauded by the Justice Department for his handling of voter fraud cases. And not just lauded -- but cited as an example for U.S. attorneys across the country.
The post makes similar cases on the firings of attorneys Lam and McKay, and they conclude that:

One of the more remarkable aspects of this story, indeed, is that the fact that the Justice Department chose a small group of the most distinguished U.S. attorneys in the country and then tried to portray them as incompetent. As you can see, it's been a losing effort. And in every case where the cover story has been blown, it's revealed political motivations for the firing.
So what's next? Like Chuck Schumer, I predict that Al Gonzales won't be attorney general a week from now. As for this scandal, unfortuately for the Bush administration, it won't die with Gonzales' federal government career.

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posted by JReid @ 7:23 AM  
Friday, March 16, 2007
Gonzo!

My current co-host on the morning show does not believe that Alberto Gonzales will be fired, because the George W. Bush will hang onto his own, and will resist anything smacking of "justice." I predicted in my blog report yesterday, and again today, that Gonzales will not last two months, meaning he will be gone before April turns to May. Well now, I'm revising my prediction. Al Gonzales will not make it to tax day. Besides, for this White House, it's not about justice, even at the Justice Department. It's about politics. And trust me when I tell you that Gonzales will go.

Why?

Because the A.G. is a political liability to the White House...

Because his continued presence is a danger to Karl Rove, in that his scandals draw Rove in...

...and Karl Rove never lets himself hang; he lets other people hang...

Because Alberto Gonzales misled Congress (read "lied to Congress") about the true nature of the Pearl Harbor Day U.S. attorney firings. Thus, he has lost the confidence of the Congress, Republicans included, and therefore he is no longer an effective water carrier for the president on Capitol Hill.

Because Fred Fielding knows better than to let this thing fester its way into a Supreme Court showdown.

And because for the White House, perhaps the only way to stop this train from rolling down the tracks, and eventually rolling over George W. Bush, is to get Alberto Gonzales out of Washington ... fast. Two words: George ... Tenet.

Gonzales will eventually be called into the West Wing by Dan Bartlett, and asked to fall on his sword, tender his resignation for the good of the president, and promised a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Tick ... tick ... tick.

Still don't believe me? Let's ask some Republicans:

National Review: "The administration’s supporters should consider whether the price of keeping Gonzales in office will be the surrender of important policies in order to try to appease his critics. ...Alberto Gonzales could yet become a liability on matters more important than he is."

Professional Clinton hater / civil libertarian Bob Barr (to Rolling Stone): "He should resign. This is the last straw in a whole series of — what was the name of the Lemony Snicket movie? — “Unfortunate Events” that have raised serious questions about the lack of leadership at the Department of Justice and there being too-cozy a relationship between an attorney general and the president."

Unnamed GOP strategist to CNN's Suzanne Malveaux: “Wolf, I have to tell you, I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are friends of those here at the White House and GOP strategists. They want Gonzales gone. They’re putting a lot of pressure on this president. One of them said, look, Gonzales has a constituency of one, and that is the president. But tonight, Wolf, White House officials who I’ve spoken to say that that is exactly the person who’s saving his job, that the president does not intend to let him go.”

Named GOP strategist Ed Rollins (on CBS News' The Early Show):
"It's certainly the President's prerogative but I would argue that he should go," Rollins said of Gonzales. "I think at this point in time they are losing support of Republican Senators by the day and the president desperately needs their support."

When asked what the best way is for the White House to move beyond the scandal, Rollins replied, "The best way is for Gonzales to resign and move on and put someone of great credibility in there."

Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher: "Even for Republicans, this is a warning sign … saying there needs to be a change," said Rohrbacher. "Maybe the president should have an attorney general who is less a personal friend and more professional in his approach."

Republican Senator John Sununu: "The president should fire the attorney general and replace him as soon as possible with someone who can provide strong, aggressive leadership prosecuting the war on terrorism, running the Department of Justice, and working with the president and Congress on important homeland security matters."

Republican Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon: ""For the Justice Department to be effective before the U.S. Senate, it would be helpful" if Gonzales resigned..."

Meanwhile, CBS News interviewed one of the fired prosecutors, David Iglesias, who is now charging a full on political purge in his case:
"I believe I was fired because I did not play ball with two members of the Republican delegation here in New Mexico. I did not give them privileged information that could have been used in the October and November time frame."

Another of the fired prosecutors, H.E. "Bud" Cummins, a lifelong Republican who was pretty soft on the administration during his Congressional testimony (and who was replaced in his post in Little Rock Arkansas in order to make way for Karl Rove's pet hatchet-man/dirt digger/voter suppression expert Tim Griffin, just as a certain Senator who used to be first lady of Arkansas is running for president...) has apparently changed his mind. His interview with TPM Muckraker takes a much harder line on the Bushies: "I've heard every one of the [Justice Department's "performance related" issues with the other dismissed US attorneys], and I'm completely convinced at this point that they are fabricated assertions, and that they were in no way on the table when the decisions to dismiss those seven USAs were made..." And in addition:
"I gave them the benefit of the doubt at the beginning of this. They told me directly that my case was completely different from the others, that there were significant performance issues involved in the other decisions, and if I saw, I'd agree that they'd have to go.

Now that I've seen the decisions, not only don't I see why they had to go, I see that [the charges of performance issues] are really not true."

And now, the piece de resistance: Al Gonzales' latest problem, via the reporting of the National Journal, is his apparent conflict of interest during the investigation of the NSA wiretap leaks:
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales reportedly advised President George W. Bush on a federal inquiry even after learning his own actions might be probed.

Citing government records and interviews, the National Journal reported Thursday that, shortly before he advised Bush in 2006 on whether to shut down a Justice Department investigation into the administration's warrant less domestic eavesdropping program, Gonzales learned that his own conduct would likely be a focus of the inquiry.

Bush shut down the Justice Department investigation in April 2006 by denying investigators security clearances they would have needed to examine the eavesdropping program.

It was unclear whether Bush knew at the time that the inquiry -- which was to have been conducted by the Justice Department's Office of Professional Responsibility -- would likely examine Gonzales' conduct, the newspaper said. Sources familiar with the matter told the Journal that if the probe had been permitted to continue, it would have scrutinized Gonzales' role in authorizing the eavesdropping program while he was White House counsel, and his oversight of the program as attorney general.

Tick ... tick ... tick, Alberto... and your little Harriet, too...

Related: Howard Kurtz on Gonzales' travails...

NPR with some of those fabulous emails.


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posted by JReid @ 8:25 PM  
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Gonzogate update: Rove's connection clarified
ABC News updates the Gonzales scandal, and the close connection between the Karl Rove political chop shop and the supposedly apolitical Justice Department:
March 15, 2007 — New unreleased e-mails from top administration officials show that the idea of firing all 93 U.S. attorneys was raised by White House adviser Karl Rove in early January 2005, indicating Rove was more involved in the plan than the White House previously acknowledged.

The e-mails also show that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales discussed the idea of firing the attorneys en masse weeks before he was confirmed as attorney general.

The e-mails directly contradict White House assertions that the notion originated with recently departed White House counsel Harriet Miers, and was her idea alone.

Two independent sources in a position to know have described the contents of the e-mail exchange, which could be released as early as Friday. They put Rove at the epicenter of the imbroglio and raise questions about Gonzales' explanations of the matter.

The e-mail exchange is dated early January 2005, more than a month before the White House acknowledged it was considering firing all the U.S. attorneys. On its face, the plan is not improper, inappropriate or even unusual: The president has the right to fire U.S. attorneys at any time, and presidents have done so when they took office.

The White House spin machine appears to have completely broken down on this one.

Meanwhile, Senator Schumer reacts to the new info.

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posted by JReid @ 6:37 PM  
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Throw Alberto from the train
The White House takes one small step away from Alberto Gonzales. Regarding Gonzales' press conference yesterday in which he refused to resign over the U.S. attorney firings:


[Gonzales’] appearance underscored what two Republicans close to the Bush administration described as a growing rift between the White House and the attorney general. Mr. Gonzales has long been a confidant of the president but has aroused the ire of lawmakers of both parties on several issues, including the administration’s domestic eavesdropping program.

The two Republicans, who spoke anonymously so they could share private conversations with senior White House officials, said top aides to Mr. Bush, including Fred F. Fielding, the new White House counsel, were concerned that the controversy had so damaged Mr. Gonzales’s credibility that he would be unable to advance the White House agenda on national security matters, including terrorism prosecutions.

“I really think there’s a serious estrangement between the White House and Alberto now,” one of the Republicans said. [Source: New York Times]
Meanwhile, the NYT reports that a single factor mattered more to the White House and A.G.'s office than any other -- not effectiveness, or competence, or aggressiveness, or skill, but rather loyalty. A familiar tune to anyone who has followed the Bushes, and not coincidentally, the key factor in both Harriet Miers and Al Gonzales getting their current jobs.

WASHINGTON, March 13 — Late in the afternoon on Dec. 4, a deputy to Harriet E. Miers, then the White House counsel and one of President Bush’s most trusted aides, sent a two-line e-mail message to a top Justice Department aide. “We’re a go,” it said, approving a long-brewing plan to remove seven federal prosecutors considered weak or not team players.

The message, from William K. Kelley of the White House counsel’s office to D. Kyle Sampson, the chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, put in motion a plan to fire United States attorneys that had been hatched 22 months earlier by Ms. Miers. Three days later, the seven prosecutors were summarily dismissed. An eighth had been forced out in the summer.

The documents provided by the Justice Department add some new details to the chronicle of the fired prosecutors but leave many critical questions unanswered, including the nature of discussions inside the White House and the level of knowledge and involvement by the president and his closest political aide, Karl Rove.

The White House said Monday that Mr. Bush and Mr. Rove had raised concerns about lax voter fraud prosecutions with the Justice Department. And several of the fired attorneys told Congress last week that some lawmakers had questioned them about corruption investigations, inquiries the prosecutors considered inappropriate. The documents do not specifically mention either topic.

While the target list of prosecutors was shaped and shifted, officials at the Justice Department and the White House, members of Congress and even an important Republican lawyer and lobbyist in New Mexico were raising various concerns.

In rating the prosecutors, Mr. Sampson factored in whether they “exhibited loyalty to the president and attorney general,” according to documents released by the Justice Department. In one e-mail message, Mr. Sampson questioned a colleague about the record of the federal prosecutor in San Diego, Carol C. Lam. Referring to the office of the deputy attorney general, Mr. Sampson wrote: “Has ODAG ever called Carol Lam and woodshedded her re immigration enforcement? Has anyone?” Ms. Lam was one of the seven fired prosecutors.

Two others, Paul K. Charlton in Arizona and Daniel K. Bogden in Nevada, were faulted as being “unwilling to take good cases we have presented to them,” according to another e-mail message to Mr. Sampson, referring to pornography prosecutions.

Another United States attorney, David C. Iglesias of New Mexico, was added to the hit list in the fall of 2006 after criticism from his home state, including a demand by Senator Pete V. Domenici, a Republican, to meet with the attorney general to discuss the performance of Mr. Iglesias’s office.

The fallout from the firings came swiftly, according to the documents. Within a day, messages were flying between the White House and the Justice Department about reaction to the dismissals. Administration officials were aware that the decisions were likely to be controversial, and the plan for carrying them out included a warning to “prepare to withstand political upheaval.” ...
And now that the upheaval has begun, the weak defense of Gonzales is what has commenced. It may not last. He may well suffer the same fate as the eight prosecutors he and the other Clones forced out.

Meanwhile the WaPo reports that when it comes to weathering scandals, George W. Bush is not the man he used to be.

Update: the Financial Times has more on "Fredo's" growing problem with those on his own side. And they editorialize about Gonzales' serial enabling of the president's imperial ways.

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posted by JReid @ 6:53 AM  
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Why is this man still in his job?
... no, not him (although that might not be such a bad idea) ... the one in the front...

So Alberto Gonzales has taken responsibility for the controversy over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys from across the country last December 7th. Good, so he should agree than, that the party responsible should resign. But so far, he is refusing to do so. Meanwhile, his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, has done just that.

As Chuck Schumer and others have said, Gonzales' main problem is that he somehow never got the memo (though he sent the Torture Memo) that he is now the lawyer for the American people, not for President Bush. He continues to act as his personal flunky, and as GWU constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley puts it, his chief enabler. Well, the enabling must stop. Gonzales is an incompetant A.G., and the extent to which he has allowed his office to become politicized -- complete with instructions from Karl Rove on which attorneys to fire -- makes him a disgrace to his office.

There is a cloud over the Justice Department.

It's time from George W. Bush to fire it.

Meanwhile, there's new information on the Pearl Harbor Day Massacre. Apparently, it preceded according to a carefully laid out five-point plan for getting rid of seven of them:

Entitled, "Plan for Replacing Certain United States Attorneys," the step-by-step instructions were sent by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, as an attachment to an e-mail. Sampson resigned Tuesday. The e-mail was released Tuesday by the House Judiciary Committee.

Steps 1 and 2: On Dec. 7, the Justice Department was to simultaneously notify the Republican home-state senators of the impending dismissals, as well as those dismissed.

In his calls to the prosecutors, Mike Battle, who oversees all 93 U.S. attorneys, was to say that the administration is grateful for their service but decided to "give someone else the opportunity" to serve in the post starting in Jan. 31, 2007, according to the memo.

Step 3 was prescient, its title underscored: "Prepare to Withstand Political Upheaval." It predicted the fired prosecutors would make "strenuous" efforts to save their jobs by appealing to other officials in the Bush administration. The memo contained responses to likely questions from those fired.

"Recipients of such 'appeals' must respond identically," the memo said, as follows:

"-What? U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president (there is no right nor should there be any expectation that U.S. attorneys would be entitled to serve beyond their four-year term).

"-Who decided? The administration made the determination to seek the resignations (not any specific person at the White House or the Department of Justice).

"-Why me? The administration is grateful for your service, but wants to give someone else the chance to serve in your district.

"-I need more time! The decision is to have a new acting or interim U.S. attorney in place by January 31, 2007 (granting "extensions" will hinder the process of getting a new U.S. attorney in place and giving that person the opportunity to serve for a full two years)."

Steps four and five directed Justice Department officials to name replacements and submit them for Senate confirmation.
The email was sent by Sampson, to Associate Attorney General William Mercer and White House officials William K. Kelley and Harriet Miers (wouldn't you know SHE'd be involved...)

And RawStory has more documents detailing the White House plan, including more on Miers' involvement...

A March 2005 attachment sent to former White House Counsel and onetime Supreme Court nominee Harriet draws lines through the names of US Attorneys described as "Recommend removing" because they are "ineffectual managers and prosecutors, chafed against administration initiatives."

In Jan. 2006, one e-mail notes that Senator Pete Domenici, the New Mexico Republican who recently had an ethics complaint filed against him, had contacted the Attorney General to "discuss the criminal 'docket and caseload' in New Mexico." The e-mail subsequently includes a detailed report on the activities of the US Attorney for New Mexico, part of which is a lengthy Power Point presentation.

A Sep. 13, 2006, e-mail, sent to Miers makes note of five US Attorneys "we now should consider pushing out," as well as one "in the process of being pushed out."

Sampson first makes note of his political concerns about the tactic in this message, saying "I am only in favor of executing...if we really are ready and willing to put in the time necessary to select candidates and get them appointed." The message also refers to sidestepping "home-State senators" and carrying out the plan "at less political cost to the White House."

Four days later, Miers promises to follow up. In her original Sep. 13 query to Sampson, she asks for "current thinking on holdover US attorneys."

On Sept. 20, Brent Ward, current head of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Obscenity Prosecution Task Force, wrote to Sampson and complained, "We have two US attorneys who are unwilling to take good cases we have presented to them." Sampson says replacing them should go through "normal channels."

Nearly two months later, on Nov. 15, Sampson writes to White House staffers again, including Miers, and repeats his concerns with "political upheaval that could result" and refers to circulating it "to Karl's shop," presumably referring to White House political adviser Karl Rove.

This e-mail includes an attachment with a detailed strategy plan for forcing out six US Attorneys in Arizona, California, Michigan, Nevada, Washington, and New Mexico; contacting senators (or the home-state Bush "political-lead" if there is no Republican senator in the state in question); preparations for "political upheaval;" and selection of "interim" candidates, which is followed by the normal US Attorney selection process. ...
Gonzales is now calling the firings "mishandled" ... but his problems go much deeper than that.

Perhaps most dire, Gonzales appreas to have lied to the Congress under oath, during his January 18 testimony under oath to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

These U.S. attorneys appear to have been fired because they wouldn't yield to political pressure in the carrying out of their duties. Gonzales approved this political putsch. The deputy fall guy isn't enough. Gonzales should be fired, yesterday.

Update: White House COS Dan Bartlett just gave a press conference in which he tried to spin the David Iglesias firing as justified by his not pursuing voter fraud cases vigorously enough. Not gonna wash, dear. Time for a special prosecutor.

Update 2: New evidence courtesy of TPMM indicates that Karl Rove's deputy, Scott Jennings, was also involved in the removal of members of the Gonzales Eight.

And bad news for Alberto: support for him among Republicans and conservatives so far appears to be weak. Remember when Bush was considering putting him on the Supreme Court? The antipathy from that period may not have died down...

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posted by JReid @ 3:53 PM  
Sunday, March 11, 2007
The Pearl Harbor Day massacre: the Rove connection
The firing of eight U.S. attorneys has links to the White House, and specifically to Karl Rove, who was personally asked to fire at least one of the seven who were dismissed last December 7th (the eight was forced out in October.) McClatchy Newspapers report:

WASHINGTON - Presidential advisor Karl Rove and at least one other member of the White House political team were urged by the New Mexico Republican party chairman to fire the state's U.S. attorney because of dissatisfaction in part with his failure to indict Democrats in a voter fraud investigation in the battleground election state.

In an interview Saturday with McClatchy Newspapers, Allen Weh, the party chairman, said he complained in 2005 about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to a White House liaison who worked for Rove and asked that he be removed. Weh said he followed up with Rove personally in late 2006 during a visit to the White House.

"Is anything ever going to happen to that guy?" Weh said he asked Rove at a White House holiday event that month.

"He's gone," Rove said, according to Weh.

"I probably said something close to 'Hallelujah,'" said Weh.

Weh's account calls into question the Justice Department's stance that the recent decision to fire Iglesias and seven U.S. attorneys in other states was a personnel matter - made without White House intervention. Justice Department officials have said the White House's involvement was limited to approving a list of the U.S. attorneys after the Justice Department made the decision to fire them. ...

..."The facts speak for themselves," Iglesias said, when he was told of Weh's account of his conversation with Rove.

Weh's disclosure comes as Congress investigates the circumstances behind the firings of the U.S. attorneys, most of whom had positive job evaluations, including Iglesias. Democrats have charged the Bush administration tried to inject partisan politics into federal prosecutions in order to influence election outcomes.

The saga continues, with more Conressional hearings this week.

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posted by JReid @ 1:42 PM  
Thursday, March 08, 2007
The case of the Gonzales Seven
On October 20, 1973, President Richard Nixon ordered then- attorney general Elliot Richardson to fire the special prosecutor, Archibald Cox, who had been appointed by Richardson to investigate the June 17, 1972 Watergate break-in. The Senate Judiciary Committee was in the midst of an investigation into the Watergate scandal. Wikipedia takes it from there:

Cox had earlier issued a subpoena to President Nixon, asking for copies of taped conversations which Nixon had made in the Oval Office as evidence. Nixon initially refused to comply with the subpoena, but on October 19, 1973, he offered what was later known as the Stennis Compromise – asking U.S. Senator John C. Stennis to review and summarize the tapes for the special prosecutor's office.

Cox refused the compromise that same evening, and it was believed that there would be a short rest in the legal maneuvering while government offices were closed for the weekend. However, President Nixon acted to dismiss Cox from his office the next night – a Saturday. He contacted Attorney General Richardson and ordered him to fire the special prosecutor. Richardson refused, and instead resigned in protest. Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus to fire Cox; he, too, refused and was fired by Nixon.

Nixon then contacted the Solicitor General, Robert Bork, and ordered him as acting head of the Justice Department to fire Cox. Richardson and Ruckelshaus had both personally assured the congressional committee overseeing the special prosecutor investigation that they would not interfere – Bork had made no such assurance to the committee. Bork complied with Nixon's order and fired Cox.

Congress was infuriated by the act, which was seen as a gross abuse of Presidential power. In the days that followed, numerous bills of impeachment against the President were introduced in Congress.
As the scandal mounted, and facing almost certain removal from office, Richard Nixon finally resigned his office on August 9. 1974. The firing of the special prosecutor, and the subsequent resignation of the attorney general, Mr. Richardson, and the dismissal of his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, would become known as the "Saturday night massacre." Nixon's defense of his actions would yield the classic Nixonian phrase, "I am not a crook." The Special Prosecutor statute followed soon after, and would live to bedevil nearly every future president.

Fast forward to 2007. The attorney general is now Alberto Gonzales, a longtime crony of President George W. Bush. On December 7, 2006, just one month after Republicans succumbed to a Democratic election sweep that handed the House and Senate to the former party out of power, Attorney General Gonzales fired seven U.S. attorneys -- all Bush appointees; and all either Republicans or registered Independents -- in what has come to be known as the "Pearl Harbor Day massacre." (An eighth had stepped down in October, under circumstances still under inspection.) Who were they, and why were they fired? Here's TIME Magazine's take:
The White House approves all U.S. attorneys, who function as the federal government's chief prosecutors in 93 jurisdictions around the country. As political appointees, they serve "at the pleasure of the President," and can be replaced, at least theoretically, at any time for any reason. But group firings in the middle a presidential term are highly unusual. Though Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisted to Congress that "I would never, ever make a change in a U.S. attorney position for political reasons," critics were outraged at the December dismissals, among them the firing of an Arkansas U.S. attorney to make way for Timothy Griffin, a prot駩 of White House political guru Karl Rove. The outcry forced Griffin to withdraw. Gonzales' top deputy later claimed the firings were necessary because of "performance-related" issues. But it was later revealed that all but two of the dismissed prosecutors had won outstanding evaluations for competence.
As for the identities, (six of the eight testified this week before teh House judiciary committee) they are:

1) David Iglesias (New Mexico) - according to TIME:

Iglesias ... testified that he felt "leaned on" by Sen. Pete Domenici over a case he was pursuing. Iglesias said the New Mexico Republican and former mentor hung up on him after learning Iglesias would not seek indictments in a criminal investigation of Democrats before the 2006 election. "He said, 'Are these going to be filed before November?'" Iglesias recalled. "I said I didn't think so... to which he replied, 'I'm very sorry to hear that.' And then the line went dead. "I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach," Iglesias testified. "Six weeks later I got the call that I had to move on." The ousted prosecutor also said that Heather Wilson, a Republican House member from New Mexico, had called him about the same issue.

Both Domenici and Wilson confirmed that they had gotten in touch with Iglesias, but denied pressuring him in any way. The Justice Department also acknowledged that Domenici had called Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his top deputy four times to complain about Iglesias' behavior, inquiring whether he was "up to the job."

Domenici has since lawyered up.

2) H. E. "Bud" Cummins (Little Rock, Arkansas) -
[Cummins] testified that he had e-mailed fellow ousted prosecutors last month, warning them of a threatening message conveyed by a senior Justice Department official. Cummins' e-mail, which was released publicly, quoted the Justice official as warning that if fired U.S. attorneys continued to talk to the media or volunteered to testify before Congress, the department "would feel forced to somehow pull their gloves off" and fight back. The DOJ denied the allegation.
In addition, once Cummins was ousted, his position was filled "on an interim basis" by a guy named Tom Griffin who is, surprise, surprise, a former aide to Karl Rove -- an aide who stated that he would step down if forced to face Congressional confirmation because of the "partisan circus" surrounding him. Cummins ouster to make room for a Rove aide has pushed Senator Mark Pryor of Arkansas to take an unusual seat -- in the House witness chair -- to testify that he felt misled about the reasons for Cummins' dismissal and could not support Griffin's nomination.

3) John McKay (Seattle) -
... declared that a top aide to Rep. Doc Hastings, the former Republican chairman of the House Ethics Committee, had called him to ask detailed questions about a politically charged investigation McKay was conducting into the disputed 2004 election of Washington state's Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire. Hastings and his aide have denied the allegation.
4) Carol S. Lam (San Diego) - She is the prosecutor who indicted Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, the defense contractor turned bribery suspect. Also:
Lam oversaw the probe that resulted in the guilty plea of then-Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, a Republican. Two others connected to that case, including a former senior CIA official, were indicted two days before Lam left the job on Thursday.
5) and 6) Daniel Bogden (Nevada) and Paul Charlton (Arizona) -
... were also in the midst of investigations targeting current or former Republican members of Congress when they were fired. And in New Mexico, Iglesias's office had been examining alleged wrongdoing involving state Democrats.
7) Kevin Ryan (San Francisco) - let go for reasons unclear.

As for the alleged eighth fire, TPM Muckraker has this to say:
Debra Wong Yang, the former U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles, Calif. Yang was overseeing the investigation into Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA). She announced her resignation in October 2006, but to date there hasn't been evidence that her departure was forced.
And what about the White House? The WaPo reported this week:
The White House approved the firings of seven U.S. attorneys late last year after senior Justice Department officials identified the prosecutors they believed were not doing enough to carry out President Bush's policies on immigration, firearms and other issues, White House and Justice Department officials said yesterday.

The list of prosecutors was assembled last fall, based largely on complaints from members of Congress, law enforcement officials and career Justice Department lawyers, administration officials said ...

...The seven prosecutors were first identified by the Justice Department's senior leadership shortly before the November elections, officials said. The final decision was supported by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and his deputy, Paul J. McNulty, and cleared with the White House counsel's office, including deputy counsel William Kelly, they said.
So far, the Judiciary Committee has begun hearings on the matter, which TPMM has been covering extensively.

Meanwhile, the Senate is preparing to push through legislatioon that would require the body to confirm any future U.S. attorneys, ostensibly, giving them a say in when they're let go.

The bedevilment has begun.

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posted by JReid @ 8:13 PM  
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Top 10 soundbites of 2006
It's been a swell year in news soundbites. So now, without further ado, here is the ReidReport list of the top 10 zingers, near misses and whoopsies of 2006.

#10. "I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."-- President Bush explaining to the hard-headed press corps in April that Don Rumsfeld was doing a fabulous job as defense secretary, and that he hears voices ...

#9. "This is the moment to say that there are things in life worth fighting and dying for and one of 'em is making sure Nancy Pelosi doesn't become the speaker." -- Fox News' resident angry Bushophile Sean Hannity, bolstering the GOP faithful the August before the midterm elections, by explaining to them that it might take a suicidal jihad to keep the Democrats from controlling the House of Representatives. And why not! After all, it would be an AMERICAN suicidal jihad...!

#8. "You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math. I'm entitled to 'the' math." -- Former electoral "genius" Karl Rove telling some snotty NPR host on October 24th that he sees tons more polls than stupid NPR does anyway, so he knows for sure that Republicans are going to hold the House and Senate ... not too long after the interview, the Republicans lost the House and Senate...

#7. "You know, education ... if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." -- Former presidential candidate John Kerry flubbing a joke, and with the cynical help of "friends" like John McCain and the media mob, throwing his presidential ambitions off what you might call, the permanent cliff...

#6. "I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies." -- Tortured radio and cable TV chat host Glenn Beck pleading with 100 percent American, U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota to reassure him that as an American Muslim, he's not secretly working with al-Qaida, as all Muslims tend to side with the terrorists, you know... deep down inside ... their little Muslim hearts...

#5. "Halfrican and, again, his father was -- his father was from Kenya, his mother's white. OK, now, I have nothing with mixed -- nothing against mixed-race people but, my point is, when this guy stands in front of a black audience, pretending like he was born and raised in the hood, and he can identify with their problems, he doesn't allow -- he is not, in my opinion -- 'cause my opinion is your average white guy -- he is not allowed to wear the African-American badge because his family are not the descendants of slaves, OK?" -- Obscure talk radio co-host Brian Sussman showing his ass to the man who could soon be the first African-American president of the United States, Barack Obama.

#4. "This fellow here with the yellow shirt ... Macaca or whatever his name is. ...so welcome, let's give a welcomoe to Macaca over here. Welcome to Virginia and the real world of America." -- Former Virginia Senator George Allen, putting a steak through the heart of his political career, and handing the Senate to the Democratic Party, just be being his lil' old racist self.

#3. "He's a nigger! He's a nigger!!!" -- Washed up comedic actor Michael Richards coming unglued at an L.A. nightclub, and jerking many Africna-Americans out of their closet Seinfeld fix, while simultaneously inspiring "Afro-American" comedians everywhere to give up the N-word. Way to make a difference, Kramer! And can I say, "Macaca!"

#2. "I went there for a massage" -- disgraced pastor Ted Haggard explaining why he was hanging out with a crystal meth-selling male gigolo in Denver, and giving cheating bastards everywhere the best excuse EVER for getting caught in flagrante! Put that one in your excuse baggies for later, Brangelina...!

#1. "Enough is enough!! I have had it... with these muthafuckin' snakes... on this muthafuckin' plane!!!" -- Big screen bad-ass Samuel L. Jackson, proving once again, why he, and he alone, is the soundbite king, this time as the star of the campy classic, "Snakes on a (muthafuckin') plane." Bitches!

And now, here's your bonus soundbite of the day. Enjoy!

"The irony is, what they really need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over " -- President Bush at the G8 summit this summer, chowing down on buttered rolls (like a holstein cow, or a prison inmate fresh out of solitary, you pick your visual...) discussing the vagueries of Middle East foreign policy with the U.K. prime minister, and introducing the Brit-deflating phrase, "yo, Blair!" into the universal lexicon. My, how Her Majesty's empire has fallen...

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posted by JReid @ 12:43 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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"I am for enhanced interrogation. I don't believe waterboarding is torture... I'll do it. I'll do it for charity." -- Sean Hannity
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