Last night, DOJ provided Congress with a list of Kyle Sampson documents it wasn't going to turn over. They begin on December 19, not long after the firings, and continue until March 8, when Sampson resigned. The withheld emails suggest some of the key issues the WH is trying to hide, particularly:
- Harriet Miers' involvement in the Cummins firing
- Efforts to pretend Gonzales had not told Pryor Griffin would be appointed with or without Senate approval
- The exchange between Domenici and Iglesias leading to the latter's firing
- The real reason behind Chiara's firing
- Efforts to withhold James Comey and the DOJ clique's testimony from Congress
Update: for those asking the grounds for withholding these documents, here is an excerpt from Richard Hertling's letter negotiating DOJ interviews. This is the follow-on to the email discussions listed in the last item below, no doubt, the terms on which DOJ will willingly allow the clique to testify.
The interviews may encompass queries about their knowledge of a) whether any resignation was related to concerns about acts or omissions of a U.S. Attorney with regard to office management, law enforcement priorities, policies, and/or particular law enforcement matters; b) whether any resignation was requested in order to facilitate the appointment of particular replacements; and c) the provision of incomplete or inaccurate information to the Committees about the requested resignations. Except as described above, questions about their knowledge of other matters, such as the judicial-nominee selection process, the Department's deliberations on responding to congressional and media inquiries on this matter, and pending law enforcement investigations and litigation, would be beyond the scope of these interviews. [my emphasis]
Presumably, Hertling used the same justification to withhold these documents--which would make it a separation of powers argument. But the list like the one they've now released may well be the first step towards subpoenaing them directly.
One more note: what doesn't show up in this list is any discussion of ongoing investigations. That, in and of itself, is interesting. Are you telling me that Kyle Sampson had no discussion about the Foggo/Wilkes indictment, which took place on February 13, solidly in the middle of this time period? Particularly since Foggo's lawyer has argued that there was a good deal of discussion about the final form of the indictment? Nuh uh. I don't believe that for a minute.
Some highlights include:
A 3-email discussion between Sampson and Harriet Miers on "processes for filling USA vacancies." The exchange is interesting for its timing: It took place on Sunday, January 7, just three days after the WH announced Miers' resignation, and just one day before Fred Fielding's name was leaked as her replacement. In other words, one of the last things Harriet did as WH Counsel was instruct Sampson on how to go about replacing the USAs. Just after that exchange, Sampson forwards those emails to Paul McNulty, Michael Elston, William Moschella, and Monica Goodling.
Response to Dan Dzwilewski's comment that politics was involved in Lam's firing. Dzwilewski's comment is still one of the most damning pieces of evidence that Lam was fired to spike the Foggo/Wilkes investigation. And the response to that comment may well have revealed that he was right. (Note, many of the other withheld documents also deal with responses to media coverage that this is political. I find that rather instructive.)
A discussion relating to AGAG's response to a DiFi question regarding how many prosecutors were asked to resign in 2006. They may be withholding this just to hide the fact that they were hiding the Chiara firing still. Or, they may be hiding earlier requests for resignations, of people like Tom Heffelfinger and Todd Graves. Or, more importantly, given DiFi's focus on Yang's ouster, they are likely hiding details relating to the circumstances surrounding Yang's departure. (Note, there's a similar list, noting all the USAs who have resigned since January 16, 2006, that goes to similar issues.)
An email Sampson forwarded to himself, originally received from Chris Oprison, regarding the Iglesias resignation letter. I'm guessing here--but I suspect Sampson forwarded the email from his DOJ account to another one, from which he could forward it to someone else (someone in Domenici's office? Karl Rove?).
A great number of emails relating to Senators Pryor's and Lincoln's responses to the attempt to place Griffin permanently as USA. Surely, these emails discuss how to accuse Pryor of lying about his claim that Sampson told him Griffin would be appointed with or without the Senators' approval, which is how DOJ responded to Pryor's damning claim. DOJ was trying as recently as Wednesday to woo Pryor in order to fix it's terrible handling of relations with him. With no success.
A late January email exchange with Jim Comey regarding his potential testimony before the SJC. I find this particularly interesting, given that Comey has just been scheduled to appear before HJC next Thursday [corrected per iu fan]--and HJC is prepared to subpoena him, if necessary. Note, I suspect HJC is voting on a subpoena for the same reasons they did so for the USAs who have testified, to free Comey of any obligation to clear the testimony through DOJ. In any case, that likely means the email exchange in January went something like, "No! Don't testify! You'll reveal these folks were all very competent! And you'll reveal our other attempts to oust prosecutors!" In which case I can see why they'd withhold it.
A 3-email exchange between Sampson and Sara Taylor regarding a NYT article on Miers' involvement in the firing of Bud Cummins. Note, Taylor has since resigned (the email exchange took place on February 16 and she resigned on March 30). And like Comey, SJC is ready to subpoena her to appear before the committee (in Taylor's case, they have voted, but not issued the subpoena yet).
Discussions how to respond to communications between Margaret Chiara and Senators Levin and Stabenow--as well as DOJ responses to the Senators. This is interesting for two reasons: first, we've never seen the letter DOJ sent to Stabenow and Levin (though we've tried to get it). And Fred Fielding was involved in that response. Clearly, there's more they're hiding about the Chiara firing than just that they hid it for two months.
A very interesting exchange responding to an Iglesias interview on Domenici's pressuring phone calls. The email exchange starts with Scott Jennings emailing Kyle Sampson, Karl Rove, Fred Fielding, K Sullivan, and Dana Perino (and cc'ing Sara Taylor). Then Courtney Eldwood forwards an update (no indication who originally sent this update) to William Moschella, Paul McNulty, Kyle Sampson, and Michael Elston. Finally, there's a press officer email forwarded to Elwood, Goodling, Sampson, Richard Hertling, and Tasia Scolinos. Interesting to note both Karl Rove's presence in the exchange--and the direction of the discussion, from the WH to DOJ. Many of the other documents withheld also relate to the press surrounding Iglesias' allegations.
A discussion of draft subpoenas for Sampson, Goodling, Elston, Moschella, and Michael Battle. I suspect this discussion went something like, "They say they're going to subpoena you all, so we might as well have you testify 'willingly' to put on an appearance of cooperation."