[JURIST] Former US Deputy Attorney General James Comey [official profile] testified Thursday that seven of eight prosecutors at the center of the US Attorney firing scandal [JURIST news archive] were performing their jobs well before being dismissed, and that the eighth was "a fine guy" but "had management problems in [his] office." During a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing [subcommittee materials; recorded video], Comey also said that he was not aware that former DOJ Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson and others were considering firing underperforming US Attorneys. Comey left the Justice Department in August 2005, and said that he only had one brief discussion with Sampson about which prosecutors had management problems, but that he had no knowledge that the conversation was part of a larger strategy to fire poor performers. Justice Department officials have said that the eight US Attorneys were fired for poor performance [JURIST report], though others have alleged that they were inappropriately fired for political reasons. AP has more.
Meanwhile, lawyers for former DOJ aide Monica Goodling [JURIST news archive] criticized the Justice Department's public announcement of an internal investigation [JURIST report] into whether Goodling considered the political affiliations of candidates for career prosecutor positions in the DOJ, contrary to federal law [OSC backgrounder] and longstanding departmental practice. The House Judiciary Committee authorized immunity from prosecution [JURIST report] for Goodling last week in exchange for her testimony on the US Attorney firings, and Goodling's lawyers said the timing of the DOJ announcement "smacks of retribution and intimidation." Bloomberg has more.