Gonzales Aide Suggested Replacements for Attorneys - New York Times
A Justice Department e-mail released on Friday shows that the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales proposed replacement candidates for seven United States attorneys nearly a year before those prosecutors were fired, in contrast to testimony last month in which the aide said that no successors were considered before the firings.
The e-mail written by D. Kyle Sampson, who resigned last month as the top aide to Mr. Gonzales, provides the first evidence that the Justice Department wanted to appointed its own candidates, despite the insistence of Justice Department officials in recent weeks that the eight prosecutors, with one exception, were removed in December 2006 for performance reasons, without regard to who might succeed them.
Two of the replacement candidates named in the e-mail were later named to fill vacancies created by United States Attorneys who stepped down, suggesting that Mr. Sampson had a roster of preferred candidates to place in United States Attorneys’ jobs. The e-mail seemed to provide new evidence that the Justice Department removed the prosecutors, at least in part, to make room for other candidates.
The January 9, 2006 e-mail was sent by Mr. Sampson to Harriet Miers, the former White House Counsel, and William Kelley, another White House lawyer. In the e-mail, Mr. Sampson proposed the dismissal of a total of seven United States Attorneys and named at least one replacement candidate for each prospective vacancy.
Because of deletions in the copy of the e-mail turned over to Congress, the names of only four of the United States Attorneys slated for removal and their possible successors are disclosed. The names of the replacement candidates, in most cases, are followed by a question mark, suggesting that Mr. Sampson might have been uncertain about them.
The United States Attorneys identified for removal are four who were ultimately dismissed: Margaret Chiara in Michigan, Kevin Ryan in San Francisco, Carol C. Lam in San Diego and H.E. Cummins II in Arkansas. Justice Department officials have acknowledged that Mr. Cummins was an able prosecutor who was removed solely to make room for J. Timothy Griffin, a former aide to Karl Rove, the White House senior political adviser. Mr. Griffin was appointed to the job on a temporary basis.
“Please treat this as confidential,” Mr. Sampson wrote...