From the transcripts published on the Washington Post site, a chilling story of the Bush Administration’s effort to strongarm him into breaking the law.
Cutting to the chase: Mr. Comey was asked to authorize and extend a classified program he did not believe was legal:
COMEY: In the early part of 2004, the Department of Justice was engaged — the Office of Legal Counsel, under my supervision — in a reevaluation both factually and legally of a particular classified program. And it was a program that was renewed on a regular basis, and required signature by the attorney general certifying to its legality.
And the — and I remember the precise date. The program had to be renewed by March the 11th, which was a Thursday, of 2004. And we were engaged in a very intensive reevaluation of the matter.
And a week before that March 11th deadline, I had a private meeting with the attorney general for an hour, just the two of us, and I laid out for him what we had learned and what our analysis was in this particular matter.
And at the end of that hour-long private session, he and I agreed on a course of action. And within hours he was stricken and taken very, very ill…
SCHUMER: (inaudible) You thought something was wrong with how it was being operated or administered or overseen.
COMEY: We had — yes. We had concerns as to our ability to certify its legality, which was our obligation for the program to be renewed.
COMEY: David Ayers.
That he had gotten a call from Mrs. Ashcroft from the hospital. She had banned all visitors and all phone calls. So I hadn’t seen him or talked to him because he was very ill.
And Mrs. Ashcroft reported that a call had come through, and that as a result of that call Mr. Card and Mr. Gonzales were on their way to the hospital to see Mr. Ashcroft.
(Note, John Ashcroft is in the ICU in critical condition at this point)
COMEY: I have some recollection that the call was from the president himself, but I don’t know that for sure. It came from the White House. And it came through and the call was taken in the hospital.
So I hung up the phone, immediately called my chief of staff, told him to get as many of my people as possible to the hospital immediately. I hung up, called Director Mueller and — with whom I’d been discussing this particular matter and had been a great help to me over that week — and told him what was happening. He said, “I’ll meet you at the hospital right now.”
Told my security detail that I needed to get to George Washington Hospital immediately. They turned on the emergency equipment and drove very quickly to the hospital.
I got out of the car and ran up — literally ran up the stairs with my security detail.
SCHUMER: What was your concern? You were in obviously a huge hurry.
COMEY: I was concerned that, given how ill I knew the attorney general was, that there might be an effort to ask him to overrule me when he was in no condition to do that.
SCHUMER: Right, OK.
COMEY: I was worried about him, frankly.
And so I raced to the hospital room, entered. And Mrs. Ashcroft was standing by the hospital bed, Mr. Ashcroft was lying down in the bed, the room was darkened. And I immediately began speaking to him, trying to orient him as to time and place, and try to see if he could focus on what was happening, and it wasn’t clear to me that he could. He seemed pretty bad off.
And it was only a matter of minutes that the door opened and in walked Mr. Gonzales, carrying an envelope, and Mr. Card. They came over and stood by the bed. They greeted the attorney general very briefly. And then Mr. Gonzales began to discuss why they were there — to seek his approval for a matter, and explained what the matter was — which I will not do.
And Attorney General Ashcroft then stunned me. He lifted his head off the pillow and in very strong terms expressed his view of the matter, rich in both substance and fact, which stunned me — drawn from the hour-long meeting we’d had a week earlier — and in very strong terms expressed himself, and then laid his head back down on the pillow, seemed spent, and said to them, “But that doesn’t matter, because I’m not the attorney general.”
What happened after Mr. Gonzales and Card left? Did you have any contact with them in the next little while?
COMEY: While I was talking to Director Mueller, an agent came up to us and said that I had an urgent call in the command center, which was right next door. They had Attorney General Ashcroft in a hallway by himself and there was an empty room next door that was the command center.
And he said it was Mr. Card wanting to speak to me.
COMEY: I took the call. And Mr. Card was very upset and demanded that I come to the White House immediately.
I responded that, after the conduct I had just witnessed, I would not meet with him without a witness present.
Read the whole transcript. This is such a blatant example of the typical thuggery which is the calling card of the Bush Administration…chilling stuff. Here’s the punchline:
SCHUMER: Let me ask you this: So in sum, it was your belief that Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Card were trying to take advantage of an ill and maybe disoriented man to try and get him to do something that many, at least in the Justice Department, thought was against the law? Was that a correct summation?
COMEY: I was concerned that this was an effort to do an end-run around the acting attorney general and to get a very sick man to approve something that the Department of Justice had already concluded — the department as a whole — was unable to be certified as to its legality. And that was my concern.
The end-runner is now the Attorney General of the United States. Gonzales must resign or be prosecuted.
The ship is sinking
The ship is sinking
The ship is sinking
There’s leak, there’s a leak,
in the boiler room
The poor, the lame, the blind
Who are the ones that we kept in charge
Killers, thieves, and lawyers
Bloody moon rising with
a plague and a flood
Join the mob, join the mob
It’s all over. It’s all over, It’s all over
There’s a leak, there’s a leak,
in the boiler room
The poor, the lame, the blind
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers
God’s away. God’s away, God’s away
On Business. Business.
The White House acknowledged yesterday that e-mails dealing with official government business may have been lost because they were improperly sent through private accounts intended to be used for political activities. Democrats have been seeking such missives as part of an investigation into the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.
The email accounts in question are ones like SJennings@gwb43.com quoted in this post.
I call bullshit. If you believe these emails were inadvertently lost or ‘mishandled’, I have a lovely beach lot in Arizona to sell you. Maybe it’s time for GWB to channel Richard M. Nixon for lessons how how NOT to cover up a scandal.
Since I have never applied the term “friendly” to Republicans, this doesn’t surprise me one bit.
Excerpted emails between DOJ and White House officials reveal how far the Bush Administration was willing to go to abuse the power of the Executive Branch in an effort to purge Democrats or perceived to have been too easy on Democrats from the US Attorney’s office. Behold the criteria for choosing which attorneys to purge:
From the official documents released by DOJ:
From Kyle Sampson to Harriet Miers, 3/2/2005, a key to a chart he prepared recommending terminations:
bold=Recommend retaining; strong U.S. Attorneys who have produced, managed well, and exhibited loyalty to the President and Attorney General
strikeout=Recommend removing; weak U.S. Attorneys who have been ineffectual managers and prosecutors, chafed against Administration initiatives, etc.
In essence, the definition of ineffectual hinged on whether they were in lockstep with the Administration. The attorneys with strikeouts in their names in the document following this email were: H.E. “Bud” Cummins, III (Arkansas), Carol C. Lam (California) and Margaret M. Chiara (Michigan).
The second set of documents released is even more damning. Kyle Sampson sent out an email listing the following:
- Vacancies w/o Candidates
- USAs Who Have Been (Or Will Be) Nominated for Other Things
- USAs Who, Rumor Has it, Will Be Leaving in Coming Months
- USAs in the Process of Being Pushed Out
: Bud Cummins
- USAs We Now Should Consider Pushing Out: Paul Charlton (AZ), Carol Lam (CA), Margaret Chiara (MI), Dan Bogden (NV), John McKay (WA)
Sampson then goes on to emphasize that pushing candidates out will only be worth it if they have hand-picked replacements ready to go.
Farther down in the same document, there is this email from Brent Ward to Kyle Sampson regarding obscenity cases:
“We have two U.S. Attorneys who are unwilling to take good cases we have presented to them. They are Paul Charlton in Phoenix (this is urgent) and Dan Bogden in Las Vegas. In light of the AG’s comments at the NAC to “kick butt and take names”, what do you suggest I do?”
The third set of documents released details the plan to replace Bud Cummins with a hand-picked Bush insider and assistant to Karl Rove: Tim Griffin. Pay close attention beginning at about page 60 or so, where a detailed email discussion of handling Cummins’ resignation and Griffin’s appointment begins. Now, the interesting thing here is how they plan to get Griffin into the office by appointing him ‘interim USA’, allowing him to act on behalf of the administration without going through the official confirmation process. That starts on page 65.
And then, with regard to the firing of New Mexico US Attorney Iglesias, this little gem from Kyle Sampson to Monica Goodling on 12/14/2006:
fyi, WH wants this guy for NM USA, but Domenici is not so sure
supposedly, Domenici is going to send over names tomorrow (not even waiting for Iglesias’ body to cool)
After the release of these documents, Chairman Conyers released the following statement:
Until recently, the Justice Department persisted in stonewalling the Congress with claims that these firings were “performance related.” Now, these documents prove that assertion to be categorically false. We now know the original plan was to fire all the United States Attorneys. It is absurd to think that the performance of every United States Attorney in the country was sub-par and that they deserved to be fired. So this is about something else.
Is it about political cronyism? Is it about partisan pressure on public corruption investigations?
Now I think he overstates what these documents say. There is certainly discussion about firing all of the USAs, but it’s knocked back rather quickly as the realization dawns that replacing them isn’t such an easy task and the political fallout would likely be swift and harsh. As the quotes above demonstrate, the Administration opted for targeted firings of key US Attorneys who were opposing efforts by the Bush Administration to use the US Attorney’s office to investigate and open prosecutions of key political enemies.
History and more documents will prove that George W. Bush is more corrupt than Richard M. Nixon, that he is possibly the most megalomaniacal President this country has ever had, and his evil will reverberate throughout this country for many years after he finally leaves office.
Speaking of Bush leaving office, it is now time to call for his impeachment. There is certainly enough evidence that leads straight back to his office (and his little dog Rove) to commence proceedings. I say this reluctantly, because I don’t believe this is good for our country or our soldiers fighting so far away, who deserve 100% backing and attention. However, as more and more surfaces, it’s become apparent to me that his evildoing in secret is far more harmful and should be stopped as soon as possible.
He’s an embarrassment to Christians everywhere. This is a classic tactic used by people claiming to be Christians and prophets who are really just desperate to advance a dying agenda.
Some of his statements deconstructed:
The other thing I felt was that evil men, evil people, are going to try to do evil things to us and to others during the last part of this year. I don’t know if it’ll be in the fall or September or later on, but it’ll be the second half somehow of 2007. There will be some very serious terrorist attacks.
Translation: Give George Bush free reign to wreak havoc in the Arab world, since we know that’s the genesis of all terrorism and true God-fearing folks would support our President fully.
And then the Lord said he will restrain the evil people, but he will not restrain them necessarily initially. And, you know, He doesn’t have to restrain people. They’re evil people and they do evil things and they desire evil.
Translation: Nuke the Arabs. Nuke them now.
Question for Pat Robertson: What happened to “love your enemies as yourself”? Oops, I guess the Lord forgot to whisper that one in your ear.
Verily, I say unto Pat Robertson, may thy lips be sealed for the next hundred years, lest your false prophecy convince even one.
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