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Disclosed documents contradict Gonzales claim of limited role in US Attorney firings

[JURIST] Documents released Friday night by the US Department of Justice [official website] show the direct involvement of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive] in a November 27 meeting to fire eight US Attorneys [JURIST news archive], contradicting claims made by Gonzales last Tuesday that while he was aware that his then-Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson [profile] was "involved in the process of determining who were the weak performers... [Gonzales] was not involved in seeing any memos, [and] was not involved in any discussions about what was going on." According to the disclosed documents, Gonzales' aides presented a five-step plan to Gonzales for implementing the firings. It is not immediately clear whether Gonzales approved the plan during the meeting or at a subsequent date. The documents show that Sampson's dismissal plan was submitted to the White House on November 15 and was approved by former White House counsel Harriet Miers [official profile] on December 4, three days before the eight US Attorneys received phone calls saying that they were being fired, without explanation.

The Justice Department released more than 280 pages of e-mails, calender pages and memos under Congressional pressure for more details on how the firings were handled, which have been criticized as being politically motivated [JURIST report]. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee authorized subpoenas [JURIST report] for Miers, Sampson, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove [official profile] and several DOJ aides. The Senate Judiciary Committee also authorized subpoenas for the officials to testify and provide documents to that committee. AP has more. The New York Times has additional coverage.

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