Note to Gonzales on CIA Prosecution Preceded Firing of U.S. Attorney
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse told U.S. News that the firings were unrelated to the ongoing public corruption case.
"We have stated numerous times that no U.S. attorney was removed to retaliate against or inappropriately interfere with any public corruption investigation or prosecution," says Roehrkasse. "This remains the case, and there is no evidence that indicates otherwise."
Roehrkasse points out that during that same period, two prominent members of Congress, Darrell Issa and Dianne Feinstein, had sent letters to the Justice Department expressing displeasure at Lam's failure to crack down on human smugglers. But Feinstein says that Lam, along with five other prosecutors, got positive performance reviews and believes these firings, including Lam's, were politically motivated.
How the CIA's growing concerns about the involvement of one of its most senior officials in a bribery scandal that also had tawdry sexual overtones played into the growing pressure to fire Lam will be a question that Congress will ask in coming months.
Sampson's lawyer did not provide an answer as to what Sampson meant by his cryptic "the real problem" description of Lam.
CIA spokesman Mark Mansfield told U.S. News that the CIA had helped investigators with the Wilkes-Foggo-Cunningham probe.
"Allegations concerning this matter first surfaced inside the CIA, and the Office of the Inspector General launched an investigation," says Mansfield. Subsequently, Mansfield said, that investigation became linked to the criminal probe being conducted by Lam's office.
"And at every step of the process," said Mansfield, "the CIA, through the Office of the Inspector General and the general counsel, has cooperated closely with other investigative agencies and the Department of Justice. And that cooperation continues today."
Indeed, federal law enforcement officials told U.S. News that the CIA had been extremely helpful on a number of levels. However, even though the CIA was part of the investigative team, so sensitive was the Foggo probe that as is customary in most criminal investigations, the U.S. attorney's office had taken enormous pains to keep the CIA in the dark about what its next move would be, these federal law enforcement officials said. The agency was not notified about the impending search warrants until May 12, the morning they were executed. But for two weeks prior to the search, there were a series of explosive stories in the paper, linking Foggo to Wilkes and Cunningham.
On April 28, what came to be known as the "Hookergate" scandal broke, alleging that Cunningham and Foggo had attended poker parties at the Watergate Hotel and that prostitutes were involved. CIA Director Porter Goss denied any involvement.
On May 2, Foggo confirmed that he had attended the parties, and two days later, the Watergate Hotel was subpoenaed. On May 5, the Wall Street Journal reported that Foggo, whom Goss had installed as the No. 3 official, was under criminal investigation. That same day, Goss resigned, although the White House and the Justice Department took pains to emphasize that the resignation was unrelated to the probe. Three days later, Foggo resigned. By then, the U.S. attorney's office had notified the CIA inspector general's office that it was mulling over possible search warrants.