The documents that blew up U.S. attorneygate were provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee by the so-called Justice Department. They were promptly released to the media, which put them out front in major papers this morning. We now have the batch of documents and they include some tidbits regarding the appointment of Karl Rove's pet, Tim Griffin, to the U.S. attorney slot in Little Rock.
For example, there's e-mail to and from Kyle Sampson, the chief of staff to Al the Torturer and who resigned in disgrace yesterday, in which a deal was worked out to transfer Griffin from the White House payroll to a vacant spot in Bud Cummins' office, "just for a short time until we install him in Arkansas." This discussion occurred Aug. 18, when Sampson also was informed about Griffin: "We have a senator prob, so while wh [White House] is intent on nominating, scott thinks we may have a confirmation issue."
Then there's this from Scott Jennings, deputy political director in the White House, to Sampson Aug. 24:
"Tim said he got a call from Bud offering this idea: that Time come on board as special AUSA while Bud finalizes his private sector plans. That would alleviate pressure/implication that Tim forced Bud out."
Oops, then the nasty old press interfered. Another Aug. 24 e-mail to Sampson and the White House prints in full an Arkansas Times Insider item about Cummins' departure and the likelihood that Griffin, with his controversial political background, would be the replacement. (So much for those who say no politician reads the Blog.)
Here's the bottom line: The Justice Department knew as early as August, if not long before, that Griffin's appointment would be fraught with controversy. When top officials suggested otherwise, they were lying. When top officials said they intended to submit Griffin to the nomination process, they were lying. When they suggested Cummins left of his own accord, they were lying.
Also, from a Sampson e-mail to Harriet Miers about potential U.S. attorney openings, grouped by categories, such as vacancies, attorneys likely to be nominated for other thing, etc:
IV. USA (U.S. attorney) in the process of being pushed out
E.D. Ark. (Bud Cummins)
Sampson went on to say it would be far preferable to replace pushed-out attorneys by appointment under the Patriot Act than by the customary confirmation process. Why? By not going that route, he said, "we can give far less deference to home-state senators and thereby get 1) our preferred person appointed and 2) do it far faster and more efficiently, at less political cost to the White House."
Devious, these boys are. Smart? You be the judge. Not so good at predictions either.
ON THE JUMP, THE SMOKING GUN UPDATE: An e-mail from Kyle Sampson responding to news articles that expressed unhappiness on the part of Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln about Griffin's appointment under the Patriot Act. It lays out in detail their scheme to avoid a confirmation process and acknowledges that Tim Griffin is a bad man to carry the banner. Either Alberto Gonazales didn't know what his chief of staff was up to (right), or he perjured himself before Congress when he said he intended to put someone through the nomination process in Little Rock. As you can see on the jump, that was just an empty talking point.
Dec. 19, 2006 e-mail from Kyle Sampson to Christopher Oprison
1. I think we should gum this to death: ask the senators to give Tim a chance, meet with him, give him some time in office to see how he performs, etc. If they ultimately say, "no never" (and the longer we can forestall that, the better), then we can tell them we'll look for other candidates, ask them for recommendations, evaluate the recomendations, interview their candidates and otherwise run out the clock. All of this should be done in "good faith," of course.
2. Officially, Tium is the U.S. attorney and will identify himself as such on pleadings and other official documents. I think it's fine for us to refer to him as an "interim" U.S. attorney in talking points, with the understanding that by "interim U.S. attorney" we mean AG-appointed (as opposed to presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed) U.S. attorney.
3. Overall, I think we should take the temperature way down -- our guy is in there so the status quo is good for us. Ask for them to consider him; note that he is qualified and doing a good job whenever asked; pledge to desire a Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney; and otherwise hunker down.
4. The only thing really at risk here is a repeal of the A.G.'s appointment authority. We intend to have DOJ leg affairs people on notice to work hard to preserve this (House members won't care about this; all we really need is for one senator to object to language being added to legislative vehicles that we are moving through.) There is some risk that we'll lose the authority, but if we don't ever exercise it then what's the point of having it? (I'm not 100 percent sure that Tim was the guy on which to test drive this authority, but know that getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc.)