Documents Reveal Personal Side of Showdown With U.S. Attorneys
McNulty: "I don't know of anything that's negative, and I haven't seen his reports, or probably only one that was done during his tenure, but I haven't seen it. But I'm not aware of anything."
Early the next morning, Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse sent out an E-mail to Sampson, conveying Gonzales's displeasure over McNulty's testimony.
"The Attorney General is extremely upset," Roehrkasse wrote, regarding the stories on the U.S. attorneys. "He also thought some of the DAG's statements were inaccurate." Roehrkasse then asked Sampson to call him and told the chief Justice spokesperson, Tasia Scolinos, that Gonzales wanted to know how to handle the media.
"I think from a straight news perspective," wrote Roehrkasse, "we just want the stories to die."
In a subsequent press statement, Roehrkasse wrote that Gonzales was upset because "he believed Bud Cummins's removal involved performance considerations and it was that aspect of the DAG's testimony the Attorney General was questioning."
As the crisis escalated, on March 5, White House deputy counsel William Kelley wrote to Sampson saying he had been "tasked" to conduct a meeting with Justice officials "to go over the Administration's position on all aspects of the U.S. Atty issue, including what we are going to say about proposed legislation and why the US Attys were asked to resign." Kelley wanted a meeting "asap," he said.
"Thanks," he wrote, "and sorry to impose." Sampson proposed a time to the Justice crew. "I assume they'll want us to go over there," he wrote. "Thoughts?"