Isn’t It Time to Chat with Kyle Sampson Again?

Here’s an exchange between Dick Durbin, Senior Senator from Illinois, and Rove acolyte Kyle Sampson about the firing of Patrick Fitzgerald.

Durbin: Were you ever party to any conversation about the removal of Patrick Fitzgerald from his position as Northern District of Illinois US Attorney?

Sampson: I remember on one occasion in 2006, in discussing the removal of US Attorneys … or, the process of considering some US Attorneys that might be asked to resign, that I was speaking to Harriet Miers and Bill Kelley and I raised Pat Fitzgerald. Immediately after I did it I regretted it. I thought, I knew it was the wrong thing to do. I knew that it was inappropriate. And I remember at the time that Harriet Miers and Bill Kelley said nothing, they just looked at me. I regretted it and I withdrew it at the time and I regret it now.

Durbin: Do you recall what you said at the time about Patrick Fitzgerald?

Sampson: I said, Patrick Fitzgerald could be added to this list.

Durbin: And, there was no response?

Sampson: No. They looked at me like I had said something totally inappropriate, and I had.

Durbin: Why did you do it? Why did you recommend, or at least suggest that he be removed as US Attorney?

Sampson: I’m not sure, I don’t remember. I think it was maybe to get a reaction from them. I don’t think that I, I know that I never seriously considered putting Patrick Fitzgerald on a list and he never did appear on a list.

Now put that exchange together with Rove’s non-denial denial that he was involved in having Patrick Fitzgerald fired:

But Robert Luskin, Rove’s attorney, today issued an unequivocal statement about all of this to the Tribune on behalf of Rove, former deputy chief of staff to President Bush, architect of Bush’s presidential campaigns and a private consultant in Washington now.

"Karl has known Kjellander for many years,” Luskin said, "but does not recall him or anyone else arguing for Fitzgerald’s removal. And he (Rove) is very certain that he didn’t take any steps to do that, or have any conversations with anyone in the White House — or in the Justice Department — about doing anything like that.”

Of course, when Rove says "I don’t recall" about an event, it usually means, "I won’t admit it until you show more evidence" about that incident. Read more

Fitzgerald to Conyers: “Okay, Now I’m Ready to Talk”

Thanks to BayStateLibrul for pointing out this provocative comment from Patrick Fitzgerald after yesterday’s Rezko verdict:

The White House Rasputin, Karl "The Architect" Rove, also was mentioned in the trial, as was former House Speaker Dennis "Don’t Ask Me About My Land Deal" Hastert, alleged to have been part of an effort by the bipartisan Illinois Combine to get rid of Fitzgerald. To demonstrate their kinship, Cellini and Rezko flew out to Washington on a play date and visited a White House reception with President Bush, where Kjellander joined them.

Later in the Rezko trial, two witnesses said that Rezko told them not to worry about the criminal investigation, because the Republicans—Rove and Kjellander—would get rid of Fitzgerald. Hastert would install a friendly federal puppy who wouldn’t bother the Combine, according to the testimony. "The federal prosecutor will no longer be the same federal prosecutor," testified Elie Maloof, a Rezko associate who is now a cooperating witness.

And a state pension board lawyer who has already pleaded guilty told grand jurors that Cellini told him "Bob Kjellander’s job is to take care of the U.S. attorney."

The Illinois Republican Party holds its own convention this week in Decatur. The party establishment, which has long been cozy with the Daley Democrats at City Hall, has done little or nothing to rid the Illinois GOP of Kjellander and Cellini influence.

"If I owe a response [about the putsch to remove him from his job], I owe it to Congress, first," Fitzgerald said when asked about all this after the verdict. [my emphasis]

Well, now that you mention it, Fitz, I seem to recall that Congress did ask you questions about this issue–questions that you obliquely passed on because of an ongoing criminal trial.

But that’s not the version of the "what if you got fired" question that I find most interesting. Rather, there’s a question that asks specifically if Fitzgerald became aware of efforts to fire him during the course of the CIA Leak investigation. Fizgerald refuses to answer … because of the ongoing Rezko case.


During the CIA leak investigation, were you aware of any conversations that you might be asked to resign? If so please describe all such conversations, including the substance of the conversations, when they occurred, and the names of those who participated.

Read more

Rove Once Again Saying Things on Teevee He Claims He Can’t Say to Congress

Thanks to TPM’s reader GB for watching Rove on Stephanopoulos so I don’t have to. Rove claims he shouldn’t have to appear before Congress because–in a different subpoena–the White House invoked executive privilege.

Rove: Congress–the House Judiciary Committee wants to be able to call Presidential Aides on its whim up to testify, violating the separation of powers. Executive Privilege has been asserted by the White House in a similar instance in the Senate. It’ll be, probably be asserted very shortly in the House. Third, the White House has agreed–I’m not asserting any personal privilege, the White House has offered and my lawyer has offered several different ways, if the House wants to find out information about this, they can find out information about this and they’ve refused to avail themselves of those opportunities.

Two things here.

First, the circumstances between this and the Senate subpoena are actually somewhat different. Rove’s documented involvement in the USA firings is actually much more minor than that in the USA purge. In the USA purge, he briefly attended on meeting at the White House strategizing how they would respond to Congress’ investigation and instructed the DOJ folks to come up with one story about what they said had happened. And some Republicans have said they asked Rove to fire Iglesias and later–in December 2007–that Rove told them Iglesias was gone. The discussions of what Rove did subsequent to those requests is based on anonymous sources claiming that Rove intervened directly. Those same anonymous sources, though, say that Rove had to get Bush involved personally, which would implicate the President and then–except insofar as someone was arguing that the firing constituted obstruction–executive privilege.

Here, though, we’ve got a sworn source saying she heard references to Rove directly contacting DOJ, bypassing the President and therefore bypassing executive privilege.

Also, given Rove’s involvement in Alabama politics, it’s hard to say whether his activities were those of a presidential aide or a powerful GOP operative.

In any case, the White House has not yet invoked executive privilege here. And a few things are going to make that harder to do. First, who will provide the legal review to justify it? Paul Clement did the heavy lifting the last time the White House invoked executive privilege here–but it pertained solely to the hiring and firing of USAs. Read more

Fitz v. Rove, Part VI

The suggestion that Bob Kjellander was working with Rove to have Fitz fired is not new.

In a hearing before court began, prosecutors said they hoped to call Ali Ata, the former Blagojevich administration official who pleaded guilty to corruption yesterday, to the stand.

Assistant U.S. Atty. Carrie Hamilton said she believed Ata would testify to conversations Ata had with his political patron, Rezko, about working to pull strings to kill the criminal investigation into Rezko and others when it was in its early stages in 2004.

"[Ata] had conversations with Mr. Rezko about the fact that Mr. Kjellander was working with Karl Rove to have Mr. Fitzgerald removed," Hamilton told U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve.

Back in the days when there was question whether Fitzgerald would be ousted in 2006 (before the USA purge broke), Chicago commentators regularly noted how badly Chicago pols–and Kjellander in particular–wanted to see Fitzgerald gone.

And there’s good reason to think he might be [fired], aside from the president’s non-assurance. One of the chief practitioners of Illinois establishment politics is Republican operative Bob Kjellander, who brags (whether true or not) about his friendship with Bush chief political strategist, Karl Rove. Despite Kjellander’s engineering Bush defeats in Illinois and other Midwest states, the White House (Rove?) thought he was pretty hot stuff and brought him to the Beltway where he is engineering who knows what political disaster.

Kjellander also will be credited with the coming GOP election disaster in Illinois, thanks to his help in selecting state Treasurer Judy Barr Topinka to run against incumbent Blagojevich. She’s a dear lady, a treasured "moderate," but not a gusty independent willing to stand up to the political establishment.

The point is that Kjellander (pronounced Shelander), a Republican national committeeman who has received $800,000 in unexplained fees through a state bond-borrowing deal engineered by Democrat Blagojevich, is no fan of Fitzgerald’s either. No one, in other words, in the political establishment in Chicago or Washington, is pushing for Fitzgerald’s reappointment. [my emphasis]

And after news broke last year that Fitzgerald had been on the firing list, at least one Chicago commentator predicted that Kjellander was the reason, and not the Plame case. Read more