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Friday, April 13, 2007

Gonzales Aide Made Picks to Replace Attorneys

Source: New York Times

Published: April 13, 2007

WASHINGTON, April 13 — A Justice Department e-mail released on Friday shows that the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales proposed replacement candidates for seven United States attorneys nearly a year before those prosecutors were fired, in contrast to testimony last month in which the aide said that no successors were considered before the firings.

The e-mail written by D. Kyle Sampson, who resigned last month as the top aide to Mr. Gonzales, provides the first evidence that the Justice Department wanted to appointed its own candidates, despite the insistence of Justice Department officials in recent weeks that the eight prosecutors, with one exception, were removed in December 2006 for performance reasons, without regard to who might succeed them.

Two of the replacement candidates named in the e-mail were later named to fill vacancies created by United States Attorneys who stepped down, suggesting that Mr. Sampson had a roster of preferred candidates to place in United States Attorneys’ jobs. The e-mail seemed to provide new evidence that the Justice Department removed the prosecutors, at least in part, to make room for other candidates.

The January 9, 2006 e-mail was sent by Mr. Sampson to Harriet Miers, the former White House Counsel, and William Kelley, another White House lawyer. In the e-mail, Mr. Sampson proposed the dismissal of a total of seven United States Attorneys and named at least one replacement candidate for each prospective vacancy.



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