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Gonzo Speaks

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing "starring" beleaguered Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, begins this morning. Watch it on C-Span3 and CNN (for now), or, on line here.

Give us your thoughts on the hearings.

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Bush Justice Dept. Political Even In the Hiring Of Interns

Via Kevin Drum, "Liberal" intern applicants summarily rejected by Gonzo Justice Dept.:

After choosing potential candidates to interview, the division personnel forwarded their lists to the Office of Attorney Recruitment Management for what was traditionally final approval. This is no longer a final step, however, because the list had to go higher — to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. When the list of potential interviewees was returned this year, it had been cut dramatically. ....When division personnel staff later compared the remaining interviewees with the candidates struck from the list, one common denominator appeared repeatedly: most of those struck from the list had interned for a Hill Democrat, clerked for a Democratic judge, worked for a "liberal" cause, or otherwise appeared to have "liberal" leanings. Summa cum laude graduates of both Yale and Harvard were rejected for interviews.

But Gonzales tells us that the Justice Department does not make decisions based on political considerations. As usual with Gonzo, the exact opposite of what he says appears to be the truth.

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Bush Justice Department Acted To Favor GOP Electoral Prospects

Via Josh Marshall, McClatchy reports:

For six years, the Bush administration, aided by Justice Department political appointees, has pursued an aggressive legal effort to restrict voter turnout in key battleground states in ways that favor Republican political candidates.

The administration intensified its efforts last year as President Bush's popularity and Republican support eroded heading into a midterm battle for control of Congress, which the Democrats won.

And Attorney General Gonzales says his department does not based policies on politics. Riiiiight.

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Alberto Gonzales Opening Statement Available

Christy at Firedoglake notes that the Department of Justice has released AG Gonzales' opening statement for Tuesday's Judiciary Committee hearing on the U.S. Attorney fireings. C-Span has it in full here.  (PDF)&nbsp.

He says he has nothing to hide and nothing improper occurred. Some quotes:

I know that I did not, and would not, ask for a resignation of any individual in order to interfere with or influence a particular prosecution for partisan political gain.

I also have no basis to believe that anyone involved in this process sought the removal of a U.S. Attorney for an improper reason. Based upon the record as I know it, it is unfair and unfounded for anyone to conclude that any U.S. Attorney was removed for an improper reason.

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Alberto Gonzales: The Lawyers Behind the Hearing

Legal Times has a profile of the Judiciary Committee lawyers who are framing Tuesday's hearing at which Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will testify.

Preet Bahara is Sen. Schumer's chief counsel.

Bharara leads a small team of Senate lawyers that includes Jeremy Paris, a former Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld associate, and Jennifer Duck, the chief counsel to Judiciary Committee member Feinstein. On the House side, Republican Daniel Flores is handling duties for ranking Judiciary Committee member Lamar Smith, R-Texas, while Mincberg is leading the investigation for committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich. One of Mincberg's deputies, Robert Reed Jr., is also a former assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia.

In advance of Gonzales' April 17 hearing, Bharara, representing Senate Democrats, and three other lawyers -- representing Senate Republicans and House Democrats and Republicans -- spent two full days querying top Justice officials behind closed doors.

Bahara is a former AUSA from the Southern District of New York.

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Gonazales' Big Lie: "I Value Their Independence," Firings Not Political

Some self-helper, I can't remember who, wrote a book "Don't sweat the small stuff." Alberto Gonzales should have read it.

When it comes to credibility, I think this statement about the U.S. Attorney firings says it all:

"I value their independence, their professionalism, what they do in the community, and these decisions were not based on political reasons," Gonzales said.

Those of us who toil in the federal courts, particularly in criminal cases, know how it works. The job of U.S. Attorney is a political plum. It's awarded based on recommendations from the district's senators, it almost exclusively goes to a member of the President's party and very often it's based on the person's contributions, including fundraising efforts, to the successful presidential candidate.

That's the way the system has always worked for both parties. The position of U.S. Attorney is an administrative job -- very few of them actually try cases.

I haven't read anyone on either side of the aisle reporting differently. Alberto Gonzalez chose to pretend otherwise. I hope it sinks him.

The document dump Friday showed a chart of U.S. Attorneys to be fired and potential replacements that listed their political loyalty and their membership in the conservative Federalist Society. That totally belies Gonzales' statement.

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Gonzales and the Smoking Chart

Uh-Oh. Firedoglake reports things just got a lot worse for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his former sidekick, Kyle Sampson. As spotted by a commenter at Daily Kos in today's document dump, Set 5 p 14. (pdf) (2/12/07 From Monica Goodling):

"This is the chart that the AG requested. I'll show it to him on the plane tomorrow if he's interested"

He requested the chart. But when? When it was made? The chart (scroll down from the email on page 14) shows the fired U.S. Attorneys and their proposed replacements, some of whose names have been redacted.

Gonzales testified under oath he did not have this information and was not involved in the replacements. Kyle Sampson said he did not have a list. Here's a list, from January, 2006.

Are dates a factor here?

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American People: Go Gonzo Go! Away

Please go away Gonzo, so says an LATimes poll of the American People:

Most Americans believe Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales should resign because of the controversy over his office's firing of federal prosecutors, and a big majority want White House aides to testify under oath about the issue, the Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg Poll has found. The survey, conducted Thursday through Monday, found that 53% said Gonzales should step down [36% say he should not]

Here's the reason why Gonzo will be gone after the 17th:

Senate and House Democratic leaders have asked White House aides to testify under oath about the firings, in part to answer questions about the roles of Gonzales and Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist. Bush has rejected those requests, but the poll found that 74% of the public believes his aides, including Rove, should comply.

The string has been played and Rove matters more than Gonzo to Bush. To resist testifying, Bush will neeed to serve up Gonzo. Then the Media can start the wankery, saying "enough, no more witchhunts." Richard Cohen is already warming up for that.

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House Subpoenas More Documents, Gonzales Names New Chief of Staff


It's been a busy day in PurgeGate. The House, frustrated with Alberto Gonzales and the Justice Departments pussy-footing over document turnover, has issued a subpoena for more of them.

The department has released more than 3,000 pages of e-mail messages and other files. But, the senators wrote in a letter to Mr. Gonzales, “We are concerned that additional documents relevant to the committee’s investigations are missing or have been withheld.”

What's missing?

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Alberto Gonzales Resignation Contest: Free Ice Cream

True Majority, a group begun by Ben and Jerry's ice cream, is offering a free year's worth of ice cream to the reader who accurately predicts the date and time Alberto Gonzales will step down as Attorney General.

Gonzales is now in DC, having canceled a family vacation, to be prepped for his testimony,before a Senate panel on April 17.

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Kyle Sampson Contradicts Alberto Gonzales on PurgeGate

Via Atrios.com

Specter asked about Attorney General Gonzales' "candor" in saying earlier this month that he was not a part of any discussions on the firings. He asked about the November 27, 2006 meeting "where there were discussions" and Gonzales allegedly attended. Was Gonzales' statement about taking part in no discussions accurate?

"I don't think it's accurate," Sampson said. "He recently clarified it. But he was present at the November 27 meeting."

"So he was involved in discussions in contrast to his statement" this month? Specter asked.

"Yes." Sampson replied.

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On Monica Goodling's Taking the Fifth


The blogosphere is all over the map on whether Monica Goodling has the right to invoke her 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination and refuse to testify before a Congressional committee investigating the firing of U.S. Attorneys.

I think she has the right to take the 5th. And, here's what a TalkLeft reader, who happens to be a former high-ranking Justice Department official during the Clinton Administration, whom I have known for many years and have the utmost respect for, writes in to say:

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PurgeGate Shows Bush's Isolation

When Robert Novak's Republican sources weigh in against Bush and Gonzales, it's worth a read.

"Gonzales never has developed a base of support for himself up here," a House Republican leader told me. But this is less a Gonzales problem than a Bush problem. With nearly two years remaining in his presidency, Bush is alone. In half a century, I have not seen a president so isolated from his own party in Congress -- not Jimmy Carter, not even Richard Nixon as he faced impeachment.

Republicans in Congress do not trust Bush to protect them. That alone is sufficient reason to withhold statements of support for Gonzales, when such a gesture could be quickly followed by his resignation under pressure. ....

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More on the Fired U.S. Attorneys Who Opposed the Death Penalty

Bump and Update: The LA Times is on the three fired U.S. Attorneys who opposed the death penalty.

Original Post:

Fired Margaret Chiara and the Death Penalty

On February 24, I wrote about the possibility Michigan U.S. Attorney Margaret Chiara was fired because of her anti-death penalty beliefs.

Quoting the Washington Post,

Chiara -- who had once studied to be a nun -- is personally opposed to capital punishment....Another of the fired U.S. attorneys, Paul K. Charlton of Phoenix, also clashed with Washington over the death penalty.

The Washington Post today has more on Chiara's firing and it isn't pretty for the White House. She was well-respected by the judges, federal prosecutors and defense lawyers in her district.

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Two Fired U.S. Attorneys and Senators Discuss Gonzales

Two of the fired U.S. Attorneys were on Meet the Press this morning. They said they believe they were fired for political purposes, there's a cloud over the Justice Department.

Two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senators Dick Durbin and Arlen Specter, said Alberto Gonzales' credibility is at stake.

Now the attorney general's statement of just a few days ago has been contradicted by a fact,'' Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.,) said of Gonzales on NBC News' Meet the Press today. "He was involved in a meeting… It really raises a question of credibility.

"This shadow, this cloud, across the U.S. attorney offices all across the country has to be lifted,'' Durbin said, adding of Gonzales: "I don’t believe he enjoys the confidence of the American people or the Congress.''

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