Flakking Purgegate

FLAKKING PURGEGATE….Brad DeLong flags an email from last night’s document dump that was highlighted by one of Josh Marshall’s readers. Back in November a White House flak (Catherine Martin) wanted to know who was on the purge list and a DOJ flak (Tasia Scolinos) answered. Here’s the email (read it from the bottom up):

Indeed, you could make the immigration connection if you were casting about for a semi-plausible post hoc reason for the firings. But you wouldn’t have to do that if you had an actual reason at hand, would you? One that could withstand public scrutiny anyway.

In any case, here’s the funny thing about that: elsewhere in the document dump there are dozens of emails related to immigration because congressman Darrell Issa had been screaming bloody murder about it. So DOJ commissioned a report and its conclusion was that two of the three prosecutors mentioned above were doing fine. There were no serious problems related to immigration prosecutions. The third, Carol Lam, did have some problems, but the report concluded blandly that it was probably due to differences in prosecution guidelines (Lam spent more time on felonies than the others) and could be fixed by changing the guidelines. Hardly earth-shattering, gotta-fire-her-ass kind of stuff. Furthermore, the report suggested, if Issa and the Border Patrol aren’t satisfied with this, then perhaps Congress and the Bureau of Immigration ought to provide Lam’s office with a few more attorneys. You can almost feel the snark.

Bottom line: It sure doesn’t seem like anyone at DOJ was seriously pissed off at Lam over immigration issues. In fact, they were defending her. If you’re still not convinced, here’s another email from the dump, dated June 23, 2006 (see below). It’s from David Smith of the USA Executive Office, and he doesn’t sound like he’s very put out with Lam. In fact, he seemed to think that Issa was being a bit of a prick and maybe Lam should meet with him just to see if she could explain the facts of life and calm him down. If there’s any kind of concrete action that USAEO thinks Lam ought to be taking with regard to immigration (aside from deruffling Issa’s feathers), there’s no indication of it here. And no real indication of it anywhere else, either. If immigration really was a problem with Lam, they sure didn’t talk about it much. It just appeared out of nowhere sometime around November when they started casting around for a public reason for letting her go.

In other words, it’s the just like all the others. We still don’t have any emails from before the purge explaining why DOJ wanted to fire these particular USAs. Surely there are some? And if not, then what was the reason?