Purgegate Fishiness Summary

PURGEGATE FISHINESS SUMMARY….Is there, as Alberto Gonzales insists, a perfectly reasonable explanation for Purgegate? I guess there might be, but there are sure an awful lot of reasons to be skeptical. Here’s a list off the top of my head:

  1. Prior to the purge, DOJ lawyers quietly inserted a clause in the Patriot Act that allowed them to appoint new U.S. Attorneys without Senate approval. Why did they do this when their own emails show that the existing system hadn’t caused them any problems?

  2. They fired eight USAs at once. This is wildly unprecedented in the middle of an administration. Why did they feel the need for such an extensive sweep?

  3. None of the eight were given a reason for being fired.

  4. DOJ initially lied when asked why they were fired, chalking it up to “performance reasons” even though five of the eight had previously received reviews placing them in the top third of all USAs. Why lie if there’s an innocent explanation?

  5. Five of the eight were either aggressively prosecuting Republicans or else failing to prosecute Democrats to the satisfaction of local politicians. Coincidence?

  6. David Iglesias reported that he received case-related calls from from Heather Wilson and Pete Domenici shortly before the midterms. He believes the calls were intended to pressure him into indicting some local Democrats before election day. He didn’t, and a few weeks later he was fired.

    On a similar note, the day after Carol Lam notified DOJ that she was planning to expand the Duke Cunningham investigation, Kyle Sampson emailed the White House and told William Kelley to call him so he could explain the “real problem” he had with Lam. What was the real problem that he didn’t feel comfortable putting in email?

  7. When DOJ released thousands of pages of emails last week, there was a mysterious 18-day gap from a period shortly before the firings were announced. There are virtually no emails from within this period even though it seems like precisely the time when there would have been the greatest amount of email traffic. Where are the emails?

  8. The email dump contained virtually nothing from before the firings discussing the reasons for targeting the eight USAs who were eventually fired. Surely there must have been such a discussion?

  9. DOJ has now had weeks to come up with a plausible story for the firings and they still haven’t. This is truly remarkable. Why not just tell the truth? That doesn’t take weeks to concoct.

Except for #9, none of these things by themselves would generate much suspicion. Put them all together, though, and you have to be a real dead-end loyalist to believe there’s nothing fishy going on. Throw in #9 and even the dead-enders ought to be scratching their chins.

Anyway, add further reasons in comments. I’m sure I’ve forgotten things. I just wanted to collect all this stuff in one place.

UPDATE: Patrick Frey points out an error in #6: Kyle Sampson’s email talks about a “real problem,” not a “real reason.” He also notes a spelling error. Both have been corrected. Additionally, he points out that the 18-day gap (#7) actually contains two or three emails (something I mentioned here) and that Bill Clinton fired 93 USAs at once (#2) (discussed previously here). I’ve slightly recast both of those points as well.

I think even Patrick realizes this is pretty desperate quibbling. If that’s the defense’s idea of a defense, the Justice Department is in big trouble.