The IG Report–Working Thread

Look what MadDog found: the DOG Inspector General Report on the US Attorney firings. Use this as a working thread.

Also, h/t to Bay State Librul, Mukasey has appointed career prosecutor Nora Dannehy to conduct the further investigation. 

Here’s a roster of who did–and who didn’t–cooperate. Note how the people closest to Bush–Rove, Miers, and Domenici–didn’t cooperate.

We also attempted to interview Monica Goodling, a former counsel to Attorney General Gonzales and the Department’s White House Liaison. She declined to cooperate with our investigation. However, on May 23, 2007, Goodling testified before the United States House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary pursuant to a grant of immunity issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and we reviewed the transcript of that hearing.

We also attempted to interview White House staff who may have played a role in the removals of the U.S. Attorneys. We discussed our request with the Office of Counsel to the President (White House Counsel’s Office), and that office encouraged current and former White House employees to agree to be interviewed by us. Several former White House staff members agreed to be interviewed, including Deputy White House Counsel David Leitch; Director of Political Affairs Sara Taylor; Deputy Director of Political Affairs Scott Jennings; Associate White House Counsel Dabney Friedrich, Christopher Oprison, and Grant Dixton; and Paralegal Colin Newman. However, other former White House staff, including White House Counsel Harriet Miers, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Advisor Karl Rove, Deputy White House Counsel William Kelley, and Associate White House Counsel Richard Klingler, declined our request to interview them.


We also interviewed several members of Congress and congressional staff regarding the removals. We interviewed Congresswoman Heather Wilson in relation to Iglesias’s removal. We interviewed Congressman “Doc” Hastings and his former Chief of Staff, Ed Cassidy, in relation to the removal of McKay. We requested an interview with Senator Christopher S. “Kit” Bond in relation to Graves’s removal, and he provided us with a written statement.

We also attempted to interview Senator Pete V. Domenici and his Chief of Staff, Steven Bell, about the removal of Iglesias and any conversations they had with the White House or the Department related to the removal. However, Senator Domenici and Bell declined our requests for an interview. [my emphasis]

Frankly, I’m surprised Oprison cooperated. 

Here’s their rationale:

Miers’s attorney told us that although he understood that considerations of executive privilege were not an issue between the Department of Justice and the White House since both are part of the Executive Branch, an interview with us might undermine Miers’s ability to rely on the instructions she received from the White House directing her to refuse to appear for Congressional testimony. Rove’s attorney advised us after consultation with Rove that he declined our request for an interview. We were informed by the White House Counsel’s Office that both Kelley and Klingler also declined our request.

I find this interesting for several reasons. First, the White House was very clearly trying to limit cooperation here to preserve executive privilege claims down the road–they know this is not done. I would suggest that Miers’ refusal to testify has a lot to do with trying to avoid revealing that her testimony shouldn’t be privileged, because it hides a crime. But that’s just a guess.

Also note that Rove had Luskin involved–though this time Luskin didn’t employ any of the high-falutin’ language he has otherwise to hide Rove’s criminality. Just a simple, "no," he declines your request. 

And finally, why Klingler and Kelley? Did Fred Fielding find them more dangerous for some reason?

Hiding the Rosetta Stone

John Dean The White House conducted their own investigation of why and how they fired the US Attorneys. Alberto Gonzales even used it as a cheat sheet. But the White House only provided a too-redacted-to-be-useful copy to the investigators.

As we discuss in more detail in Chapter Three, in the course of our investigation we also learned that in early March 2007 Associate White House Counsel Michael Scudder had interviewed Department and White House personnel at the request of White House Counsel Fred Fielding in an effort to understand the circumstances surrounding the U.S. Attorney removals and be in a position to respond to this issue. Based on his interviews, Scudder created a memorandum for Fielding containing a timeline of events, which was provided to the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and to the Attorney General. Because the Scudder chronology appeared to contain information we had not obtained elsewhere in our investigation, we requested that OLC produce a complete copy of the final Scudder memorandum and all drafts of the memorandum. OLC declined to produce the document, stating that the White House Counsel’s Office directed it not to do so.


The White House Counsel’s Office eventually provided to us a heavily redacted version of the document, but the redactions made the document virtually worthless as an investigative tool. We disagree with the White House’s rationale for withholding this document, particularly since the document was shared with OLC and e-mail records also show that drafts had been provided to former Attorney General Gonzales. [my emphasis]

Honestly, Fred Fielding has to feel that he’s in a kind of time warp.

Also note, from a footnote, one of the reasons they can’t give us the Scudder chronology is because it shows details of a Heather Wilson call on Iglesias [corrected per WO] Pete Domenici called Bush and told him to fire Iglesias.

When we obtained earlier drafts of the OLC chronology, we saw references to the Scudder memorandum as support for certain propositions in the chronology, including alleged communications between a member of Congress and the White House regarding Iglesias.

The Lists

Reading through the section with the lists of people to be fired. Interestingly, the suggestion that Heffelfinger was too focused on Native American issues (remember–he was in charge of the committee that dealt with these issues) came from St. Comey:

Finally, Comey said he was concerned that Heffelfinger was overly focused on Indian affairs issues.

Here’s Mary Beth Buchanan on Heffelfinger and Native American issues:

Buchanan said she also discussed with Sampson concerns about Heffelfinger’s focus on Native American issues, but she said she did not recall expressing any negative views about any other U.S. Attorney’s performance.

Note that Sperling, O’Meilia, and Lampton were earlier names on the lists–which makes the list of people considered even more NAIS heavy than we thought. 

Also note–the HJC interviews with Margolis reveal that there was a still-serving US Attorney that David Margolis believed should (still) be fired. That person is Dunn Lampton, US Attorney for Mississippi’s Southern District. I’ll need to return to this to see whether Lampton was responsible for some of the crummy cases that have gone down in MS in recent years. Goodling recommended keeping Lampton, based on his performance during Katrina. Hmmmm. [See this link to Scott Horton’s work on Lampton, h/t WO.]

Here’s the currently operative explanation for the focus on Debra Yang (who was probably fired to scuttle the investigation into Jerry Lewis:

We also found evidence that the White House asked about replacing Debra Yang, the U.S. Attorney in the Middle District of California. According to Sampson, Miers had asked him whether Yang should be replaced because she had rejected an overture to serve on the Ninth Circuit. Sampson testified that he had informed Miers that Yang was a “strong” U.S. Attorney who should remain in place. Sampson said that Miers accepted his explanation and did not raise the subject again. Yang resigned of her own volition in 2006 to take a job with a private law firm.

I realize BushCo has been trying to make the 9th less rational, but I find it hard to believe that Miers wanted to fire Yang because she refused a lifetime promotion. 

Note that the report places the Fitz-firing attempt in Summer 2006, not in 2004-2005 when we know Kjellander was claiming Rove would arrange for Fitz’s firing. The report makes no mention of the three sworn statements that the thugs in Chicago, as much as the thugs in DC, were pushing for Fitz’ firing.

During the summer of 2006, no further action was taken on the plan to remove additional U.S. Attorneys. However, during this time, Sampson met at least once with Miers and Deputy White House Counsel Kelley to discuss the proposal. According to Sampson, sometime during the summer he met informally with Miers and Kelley after a judicial selection meeting at the White House. At this meeting they discussed the plan to remove U.S. Attorneys, and Sampson broached the subject of including Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, on the removal list.

Sampson testified to Congress that although Fitzgerald was widely viewed as a strong U.S. Attorney, Sampson had placed Fitzgerald in the “undistinguished” category on the initial list he sent to the White House in March 2005 because he knew that Fitzgerald was handling a very sensitive case and Sampson did not want to rate Fitzgerald one way or the other. At that time, Fitzgerald was serving as the Special Counsel investigating the leak of information relating to Central Intelligence Agency employee Valerie Plame, which ultimately resulted in the conviction of the Vice President’s Chief of Staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, for perjury and making false statements.

This is a rather disturbing oversight in the report.


Here’s how the report accounts for the gap of time it took to get Bush’s buy-off on the plan.

For logistical reasons, the plan could not be carried out on the schedule Sampson suggested. After receiving Sampson’s November 15 e-mail, Miers responded that she would have to determine if the plan required the President’s attention. She stated that the President had left town the night before and she would not be able to get his approval “for some time.” Sampson responded by asking Miers who would determine if the President needed to be apprised of the removal plan. Sampson told us that he never received an answer to that question, and the documents provided to us by the White House do not mention this issue. As stated previously, Miers and Kelley from the White House Counsel’s Office refused our requests for interviews.

Which, IMO, is just a polite way of saying Bush was involved in this in spite of the Administration’s claims to the contrary.

Here’s another polite example of the report calling someone on lying, without quite going there:

In our interview of him, Gonzales told us he did not recall the November 27 meeting at which he approved the plan to request the resignations of six U.S. Attorneys. However, everyone else in attendance at the meeting stated that Gonzales was present, that he received a copy of the 3-page implementation plan, and that he gave his approval to proceed.

Can anyone explain to me why Gonzales is not in jail yet?

Have we heard about this "thumbnail" before?

In the week following the November 27 meeting, Sampson awaited word from the White House Counsel’s Office on whether the Department was authorized to proceed with the removal plan. Sampson told us that around this time he gave Deputy White House Counsel Kelley a “thumbnail” sketch of the reasons each U.S. Attorney was placed on the list. Sampson stated that Kelley raised no objection.

So Sampson wants to claim that he knew, in late November, all the reasons why these people were fired, but forgot by February when Congress asked him? Huh?

And once again, Kelley was one of the White House people that did not cooperate. 

  1. Peterr says:

    And then there are the folks from Capitol Hill:

    We also interviewed several members of Congress and congressional staff regarding the removals. We interviewed Congresswoman Heather Wilson in relation to Iglesias’s removal. We interviewed Congressman “Doc” Hastings and his former Chief of Staff, Ed Cassidy, in relation to the removal of McKay. We requested an interview with Senator Christopher S. “Kit” Bond in relation to Graves’s removal, and he provided us with a written statement.

    We also attempted to interview Senator Pete V. Domenici and his Chief of Staff, Steven Bell, about the removal of Iglesias and any conversations they had with the White House or the Department related to the removal. However, Senator Domenici and Bell declined our requests for an interview.(5)

    footnote 5: Domenici declined to be interviewed, but said he would provide written answers to questions through his attorney. We declined this offer because we did not believe it would be a reliable or appropriate investigative method under the circumstances.

    (Doc page 3; pdf p 16)

    Quite frankly, I’m surprised Heather Wilson sat for an interview.

  2. Rayne says:

    I’ll be digging into Chiara, but then we already heard a lot about her dismissal this summer, thanks to Goodling’s purge-teh-gay efforts.

    Betting the info on Bogden shows similar purgative effort.

  3. Rayne says:

    Lovely. Thomas Heffelfinger (USA-MN) mentioned only once in this report, in the first list produced as noted on the timeline (between pages 18 and 19).

    So nobody asked him if he’d been “encouraged” to step aside.

    What a crock of crap.

    And Frederick Black (USA-Guam) completely off the timeline altogether.

    Surprise! They did a real nice job of limiting the scope of their work.

    • Rayne says:

      My bad — ugh, I need upgrade my Adobe. Heffelfinger is in here, but only after the timeline doc.

      Heffelfinger’s exit still stinks, the explanation they offer weak. Why would this guy take this job and not choke it out until 2008? He should be in his early 60’s right now.

    • nomolos says:

      The theatre will be closed for a few months to allow the actors to return to their districts. Plays for future performance will be written at some time in the future.

  4. WilliamOckham says:


    The Scudder memo talks about Heather Wilson, not Pete Domenici. See p. 181.

    Can one of the local lawyer-types explain to me why the OLC was in charge of the official timeline? What legal advice did the WHCO ask for in relation to the timeline?

    • bmaz says:

      Oh, that is good. Because, you know, the last asswipe from Connecticut has worked so well to do the people’s justice and uphold the rule of law. John “Total Bull” Durham. Remember him? Did you know that we have had actual direct material evidence of criminal torture destroyed by our own government? I had almost forgotten too, because of a “special prosecutor” from Connecticut. We now have another one. Go figure.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Is there, like, no federal crime in Connecticut? How can they afford to keep giving up prosecutors to stonewall for Mukasey?

        • bmaz says:

          Not just these two either. Guess who the Number 3 man at DOJ is today? Yep, Kevin O’Connor, the former USA in Connecticut (whose transfer to DOJ Main is why Dannehy is Acting USA) that was the supervisor of Durham and Dannehy. Nice self contained little group.

  5. bmaz says:

    The title to this thread just isn’t – well – “working” for me. Nothing about this investigation is “working” for me. Never has, never will.

    What is the first tell that this is complete, unadulterated bullshit? Well, consider this. The big news out of this is that Mukasey is going to appoint a real prosecutor to look at the matter in light of the non-cooperations of so many witnesses and sources. Um, pardon me, but those witnesses and sources have been uncooperative from second one; any self respecting DOJ that wanted to do their duty and honor their oath would not have waited until now to appoint such a prosecutor. This is completely asinine. This report is nothing but an inoculation against real investigation and prosecution.

  6. bmaz says:

    Frankly, I’m surprised Oprison cooperated.

    Boy, no kidding. Bet he didn’t cooperate that much though; and I bet they didn’t exactly give him the toughest of cross examinations either. Probably wasn’t even cross, so to speak.

    I’ll need to return to this to see whether Lampton was responsible for some of the crummy cases that have gone down in MS in recent years.

    Yes. Yes he is indeed.

    … which was provided to the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and to the Attorney General

    You have got to be kidding me; they couldn’t get this after copies were bandied about to OLC and the office of AG? They weren’t even trying.

  7. masaccio says:

    I’m working, sigh, and can’t read until tonight. I’ll be gleaning after this crowd works this over.

    Meanwhile, here’s a tidbit from the bailout bill. It allows the Treasury to purchase toxic waste from retirement plans, including qualified deferred compensation agreements. I know someone who has one of those, and it holds serious garbage. The original draft would have covered all deferred comp plans, but the current draft does not allow purchases from non-qualified plans, like the one I bet Hank Paulson has.

      • bmaz says:

        Still going to be run by Mukasey. There will be no more of what they would term “Fitzgerald Fuckups”. Dannehy is the special prosecutor. This is a circle jerk, and the Congress, including DiFi (while not in the House, could sure exert incredible pressure on her neighbor Pelosi) is actively determined not to perform it’s Constitutional duty and exercise the necessary and proper Constitutional prerogatives.

  8. rosalind says:

    (OT: kyle foggo pleads guilty to one count of wire fraud, all other charges dropped. awaiting a non-AP link)

  9. Mary says:

    23 – Yep. And yep to this: “This report is nothing but an inoculation against real investigation and prosecution.”

    Once Mukasey shoves his pick in, limitations clocks tick, evidence is destroyed, stories are cross-coordinated, and it will be difficult to get any real investigator involved later and by then there won’t be any need, anyway – things will be too far down the sewage pipes.

    OT – Boston1775, if you see this, you asked:

    Can you say more about Bush trying to issue military orders to surveil US citizens?
    So what – just in case he doesn’t have the military authority – he gets a dual authority from the AG who has since admitted he didn’t understand what he was signing for the first year?
    And after Ashcroft and Comey objected, he had Gonzales write pretend notes that the Gang of Eight told him he must continue this?

    Was it the military thing that was presented to the phone companies?
    Is this what they were prepared to say? That the President issued military orders to them?

    Here’s a link to one of the Angler series and what Gellman dropped in there, almost as a sidenote.

    45 days, after Justice Department review, Bush renewed his military order for warrantless eavesdropping. Brenner and Potenza told Hayden that the agency was entitled to rely on those orders [4]. The United States was at war with al-Qaeda, intelligence-gathering is inherent in war, and the Constitution appoints the president commander in chief.

    emph added

    So imo the answer to your questions is yes. The interesting expansion on Brenner and Potenza telling Hayden that it was ok to rely on those orders is that when those 2 went to DOJ looking for why DOJ thought the orders were ok, Addington tossed them out on their ear.

    Joel Brenner and Vito Potenza, the two men wilting under Addington’s wrath, had driven 26 miles from Fort Meade, the NSA’s eavesdropping headquarters in Maryland. They were conducting a review of their agency’s two-year-old special surveillance operation. They already knew the really secret stuff [3]: The NSA and other services had been unleashed to turn their machinery inward, collecting signals intelligence inside the United States. What the two men didn’t know was why the Bush administration believed the program was legal.

    So two years into their unwavering advice to Hayden (remember Hayden’s stand up routine on how well the NSA was *trained* on the 4th amendment? so well that he couldn’t remember that there was a warrant clause and probable cause requirement in it) that of course he could rely on the orders to use the US military against American citizens on American soil and violate the Constitutional protections at the whim of a egomaniacal frat boy, all while relying on military orders as protection against countless felony violations of domestic law – – two years into all that it looked like an election might bring in some new players and all of a sudden the NSA lawyers were asking, “uh, doh, why is it again we should think we can do this?” and were being told that question was above their pay grade.

    So yeah – in addition to the fact that the FBI had inadvertently discovered the program within days (or was it hours?) of it starting and was raising questions about its illegality; despite first one, then another, Chief FISCt judge expressing opinions that the program was unconstitutional and barring it; despite a DAG (Thompson) who was so obsessed over the unconstitutional aspects of the program that he would not sign FISCt applications; despite the memo given to Thompson on legal consequences; despite the fact that the legal opinions for the program were so bad Addington wouldn’t even share them with loyalist NSA lawyers who were already so entrenched in the program they would have jumped through hoops backwards to give credibility to them; despite concerns raised by Goldsmith as head of OLC; despite 3 mos of turmoil and rebellion; despite an opinion by the only judge to look at the program on the merits post-Comeychanges that it was absolutely unconstitutional —- despite all that, we were sold the story that the telecoms at every point through the whole of “teh program” up to and including the date of the Congressional Absolution Legislation, was acting in “good faith” reliance that they could engage in unlimited felony violations and unconstitutional domestic surveillance of American citizens on American soil without warrants and without probable cause, for the purpose of not only obtaining illicitly evidence for use in criminal proceedings, but also for the purpose of singling out Americans to be disappeared into military torture.

    Not that anyone gives a damn much anymore. Notice how the 11yo American child the FBI and Army walked away from while the Afghan gov disappeared him didn’t make Nancy Grace.

    None of the St. Comeys in Justice give a rats ass about anyone who isn’t part of their circle. They’ll circle the wagons based on personal loyalty, but they when they don’t even give a damn about an 11 yo child, it’s a journey into the absurd to expect them to give a damn about the law.

    I think Feingold should be put on the endangered species list, since he must be genetically different from the lawyers in the administration and the members of Congress. Even Whitehouse, who can see all the problems, is more concerned about keeping all the whiteboys who had *high spirits* out of trouble – after all, when they lined up to establish and advocate for torturing the brown people they were just under pressure, let’s hand out the amnesty and candygrams.

  10. MadDog says:

    It seems that many folks believe a “Special Prosecutor” was named by AG Mumbles Mukasey to further investigate.

    Folks like the AP:

    Attorney General Michael Mukasey has appointed a special prosecutor to pursue possible criminal charges against Republicans involved in the controversial firings of U.S. attorneys.

    (My Bold)

    But as far as I can see, that ain’t so.

    This is not a “Special” prosecutor in the manner of Pat Fitzgerald with plenary authority, but instead is just your “run-of-the-mill” US Attorney who must adhere to all the pecking order political oversight and control within the very same compromised Department of Justice that sits under the thumb of the White House and its Counsel’s Office that the very same prosecutor is supposed to investigate.

    This is just another of this Administration’s “going nowhere” stall tactics to run out the clock.

    If there is to be anything done to redress these crimes, it will only occur at the hands of a new Democratic Administration.

    And I’m not holding my breath.

      • MadDog says:

        The salient point that I think the AP was falsely trying to convey, was that the appointment of Nora Dannehy as a “Special Prosecutor” meant that she would have “independence” to do all that was required.

        The false characterization of a “Special Prosecutor” that the AP used to show “independence” is exactly opposite of what Mumbles Mukasey was actually doing.

        Mumbles Mukasey was not after “independence”. He was after “control”.

        – Control over the timing to run out the clock,
        – Control over the parameters of the “investigation”,
        – Control over the tactics to be used,
        – Control over the “targets”,
        – Control over the “allowable witnesses”,
        – Control over the deference and privileges (executive, deliberative, etc.) allowed “certain” past and present White House and DOJ employees,
        – And on and on and on!

        The fact is that the AP told a great big lie, and one wonders just why.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, I agree; but everybody has been doing the same thing. Even most blogs. I just saw it reported that way on CNN and CBS (right after the most recent Palin debacle), and just saw that at the NYT. All orgs that ought not be making that kind of sloppy mistake.

          • stryder says:

            I think whitehouse refered to the limitations in the cspan press conference and that it wouldn’t end with this congress.Of course this is all contigent on an obama victory and even then all the pertinent info will be gone.
            I had hopes for whitehouse but it seems he’s just another shill for the dems/doj. By feigning outrage he’ll fit in nicely.Almost Shumeresk.There’s going to be alot of bipartisanship needed to cover everybody’s ass.

            • bmaz says:

              True; but it is not just the limitations of the prosecutorial ability, it is, as I keep reminding folks, the statute of limitations that is starting to come into play. Time is a wasting.

              • stryder says:

                Hey man, what’s a little politization when you can have an economic crisis/national emergency to wash away everyboby’s sins.The perfect diversion.Doesn’t everything seem so well timed?
                While all this is going on you got to wonder what Cheney and his banker cronies are up to.
                Everytime I think it couldn’t get any worse,it does