White House counsel suggested firing all US Attorneys at start of Bush second term

[JURIST] Former White House counsel Harriet Miers [official profile] suggested to an aide of US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] that all 93 US Attorneys be fired at the beginning of President Bush's second term, but that suggestion was ultimately dismissed as impractical, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino [Wikipedia profile] said Monday. Following Gonzales' approval of a plan to fire a shorter list, the US Department of Justice [official website] recommended eight dismissals [JURIST report] last year. The White House reportedly approved the firings [JURIST report]. Perino admitted that President Bush had spoken to Gonzales about complaints he had received that certain US Attorneys [DOJ backgrounder] were not aggressively pursuing voter-fraud cases [JURIST report], but said the White House never actually revised the list. Perino maintained that the eight dismissals were for "performance and managerial reasons," despite reports that the terminated prosecutors had received favorable reviews.

Democrats in Congress have called for an investigation into the dismissals, alleging that the firings were politically motivated because the prosecutors involved did not prosecute voter fraud specifically involving Democrats. US Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) [official website], heading a Senate Judiciary Committee investigation, said he wants to question US Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove [official profile] about the controversy. Kyle Sampson, the aide Miers spoke to in 2004, resigned Monday after revealing that he was not upfront with other Justice officials about the extent of his discussions with the White House over the prospect of prosecutor dismissals, causing the officials to give incomplete testimony [JURIST report] in the investigation. A group of e-mails and internal documents will be turned over to Congress Tuesday that reportedly indicate the White House's involvement in the dismissals. AP has more; Reuters has additional coverage.

 

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