Top 10 Questions for Sampson at Judiciary Hearing
Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday about the controversial firings of eight U.S. attorneys and the Justice Department's mishandling of the ensuing congressional inquiry. Sampson's testimony could bring a quick end to Gonzales's tenure. Following are some questions Sampson may be asked by lawmakers.
1. Sampson wrote in an E-mail to the White House last January that he would like to replace 15 to 20 percent of "underperforming" U.S. attorneys but that the "vast majority ... are doing a great job, are loyal Bushies, etc., etc." What were Sampson's criteria for "loyal Bushies"?
2. In early 2005, Sampson asked then Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who managed the U.S. attorneys, for his short list of weak prosecutors. Why did Sampson's final list of those axed look so vastly different from Comey's recommendations?
3. Why was the U.S. attorney from Chicago, Patrick Fitzgeraldwho prosecuted Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby for the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plameincluded in the list of prosecutors who had "not distinguished themselves," and was serious consideration given to firing him?
4. Were the eight prosecutors fired because of "performance-related" issues, political issues, or both?
5. What was discussed during the November 27 meeting, attended by Gonzales, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, and other senior Justice officials who were involved in the firings?
6. How many times did Sampson brief Gonzales on the status of the U.S. attorney firings?
7. What was Bush's political adviser Karl Rove's role in the firings?
8. In referring to U.S. Attorney Carol Lam from San Diegowho was involved in a massive corruption investigation targeting Republican congressmen and fundraisers as well as CIA top official Kyle "Dusty" Foggowhat did Sampson mean when he wrote in an E-mail last May to the White House that "the real problem we have right now is with Carol Lam"?
9. Why was the administration in such a hurry to replace Arkansas U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins that his slated replacement, Timothy Griffin, had to cut short his honeymoon to take Cummins's spot?
10. What did Sampson mean in his E-mail last December to the White House when he said, "prepare to withstand political upheaval"?