I'm still obsessing about Paul Clement's opinion on whether Bush can assert executive privilege over documents relating to the US Attorney purge. Here's a little tidbit I find interesting.
Clement is discussing the third chunk of things Congress requested.
The final category of documents and testimony concerns communications between the
Department of Justice and the White House concerning proposals to dismiss and replace U.S. Attorneys and possible responses to congressional and media inquiries about the U.S. Attorney resignations. These communications are deliberative and clearly fall within the scope of executive privilege.4
And here's what that footnote says:
4 To the extent they exist, White House communications approving the Department's actions by or on behalf of the President would receive particularly strong protection under executive privilege.
Does that make anyone think of the 18-day gap?
You'll recall that after the first series of dumps, there was a clear chain of emails leading right up to the moment, on November 15, when Harriet wondered whether Bush would have to sign off on the firings.
In an e-mail dated Nov. 15, 2006, Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, asked then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers and her deputy, William Kelley, whether he had the green light to go forward with the firing plan.
Miers responded that she was “not sure whether this will be determined to require the boss’s attention.” Her e-mail ended with the words: “We will see. Thanks.”
And the gap ended at precisely the time when the White House relayed its approval of the firings.
The e-mail exchange came the day after Bush left Washington for a weeklong trip to Russia and Asia. He returned for a long Thanksgiving weekend at Camp David, then took off for Latvia and Jordan before returning to Washington on Nov. 30, a Thursday. Four days later, on Monday, Dec. 4, the White House signed off on the firing plan.
We eventually got some details about the interim period--particularly regarding the November 27 meeting when Alberto Gonzales is said to have approved of the firings. But that didn't end the approval process; that process came from the White House, some time later.
And here Clement is, going out of his way to indicate that, "to the extent that they exist," we can't have any records of Bush signing off on the firing plan himself. Which makes Bush's approval document all the more interesting, don't you think.
I think it's time to return our attention to the 18 day gap--or at least to Bush's personal role in the firing of 9 US Attorneys, not to mention the obstruction of justice in at least one criminal investigation.