In Other Words: Obstruction

Ken AshfordAttorney FiringsLeave a Comment

Murray Waas has a new story out:

"The Bush administration has withheld a series of e-mails from Congress showing that senior White House and Justice Department officials worked together to conceal the role of Karl Rove in installing Timothy Griffin, a protégé of Rove’s, as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas."

TPM has the analysis — the emails lead:

to the inescapable conclusion that the administration was complicit in attempts to cover up White House involvement in the firings.


So what documents are we talking about? The story deals with two separate letters that the Justice Department sent to Congress about the firings.

The first was a January 31 letter to Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AK) assuring him that "not once" had the administration considered using the Patriot Act provision to install Tim Griffin, Karl Rove’s former aide, as the U.S. attorney for Little Rock. The provision allowed the attorney general to appoint interim U.S. attorneys indefinitely without Senate confirmation.

Of course, Kyle Sampson had been pushing to use the provision for months — and had communicated the plan to the White House.

But when it came time to answer questions about it, the White House signed off on a letter saying that they had never contemplated such a thing. And the withheld documents show that Christopher Oprison was the White House official who signed off on the letter — that’s funny because Kyle Sampson had layed out the plan to use the Patriot Act provision to appoint Griffin in an email to Oprison just a month before.

The second letter in the piece is a February 23rd letter to Congress that claimed that Karl Rove hadn’t had any role in appointing Griffin. Fittingly, Oprison also signed off on that one — even though Sampson had written him in an email in December that Griffin’s appointment was "important to Karl."

White House spokesman Tony Fratto tells Waas that "Chris did not recall Karl’s interest when he reviewed the letter."

But Fratto also says that "We have no record of that letter ever leaving the White House counsel’s office." In other words, they never bothered to ask Karl Rove or any one in his office to check whether the statement was true. And they just forgot that Sampson earlier had boasted about Rove’s interest. Huh.

UPDATE:  Another bombshell — Gonzales reveals that Bush and Tony Snow lied about Bush’s role in the sacking of federal prosecutors.