PURGEGATE UPDATE….I’ve been negligent in following up the latest in Purgegate. Sorry. Here’s a quick summary of Kyle Sampson’s testimony today:
Least surprising revelation: that Alberto Gonzales was indeed involved in discussions about firing those U.S. Attorneys. “I don’t think the attorney general’s statement that he was not involved in any discussions about U.S. attorney removals is accurate,” Sampson said. In other words, Gonzales lied. Knock me over with a feather.
Most bizarre revelation: that Sampson recommended firing Patrick Fitzgerald in the middle of his investigation into Plamegate. “That was a piece of bad judgment on my behalf to even raise it,” Sampson said. No kidding.
Most heartfelt revelation: that Sampson is all too aware he screwed up. “Looking back on all of this . . . in hindsight I wish the department hadn’t gone down this road at all,” he said. Roger that, Kyle.
But really, here’s the single most remarkable thing about Sampson’s testimony. Purgegate broke open ten weeks ago. As Sampson himself admitted, the Justice Department’s explanations of the affair since then have been comically inept. Sampson himself has known for a couple of weeks that he was going to testify before Congress today.
And what’s the single biggest question we all have? It’s this: so why did you choose those particular eight prosecutors to fire, anyway?
And after all this time to prepare and finally get it right, what did Sampson say? Nothing. Almost literally, nothing. He still didn’t have any plausible, documented reasons for firing the USA-8. He stumbled around a bit, eventually claiming that the process wasn’t “scientific” but also wasn’t “extensively documented.” Here’s his final explanation: “I don’t remember keeping a very good file,” he said. “It was a chart and notes that I would dump into my lower right desk drawer.”
And that, supposedly, was that. There were two years of plans to fire these guys, but we’re supposed to believe that no one really kept any notes and nobody really knows why these guys were selected. It was just a gestalt sort of thing.
Unbelievable. But which is worse: that he’s lying or that he’s telling the truth?