I have been watching the re-run of Kyle “The Dweeb-Weasel” Sampson’s testimony on C-SPAN. TPM Muckraker — which has owned the lefty side of this story, and has done a fairly principled and incredibly thorough job of covering it — has numerous posts and entertaining You Tube clips of the testimony. Luckily, they have captured in a succinct clip the part that, in my own independent viewing of the testimony, I determined to be the most newsworthy thing that the Dweeb-Weasel said all day.
Rather than summarize it, I will bow to the magic of video and just let you watch it (supplemented by a transcript that I have personally prepared). But first, let me set it up, because the background is critical.
Before the clip starts, Dick Durbin is asking Sampson about Patrick Fitzgerald, and the fact (which I mocked in this post) that Sampson listed him as among the group of U.S. Attorneys that “have not distinguished themselves either positively or negatively.” I found that a rather odd thing to say about the guy who convicted the World Trade Center bomber and the Governor of Illinois.
Our friend WLS, himself an Assistant U.S. Attorney, had argued that “being a great prosecutor in the courtroom is not guarantee that he’s even a passably good US Attorney.” Unfortunately, that dog won’t hunt, given Sampson’s testimony.
Sampson acknowledged that, by all accounts, Fitzgerald was not only an impressive prosecutor in his own right, but a “strong, effective U.S. Attorney.” But he didn’t want to rate him as strong, because he knew that Fitzgerald was handling a “sensitive case” involving the Administration. Given that factor, he “didn’t want to go anywhere near that” — in other words, he didn’t want to rate Fitzgerald at all.
And now, to the clip:
DURBIN: Were you ever party to any conversation about the removal of Patrick Fitzgerald from his position as Northern District U.S. Attorney?
SAMPSON: I remember on one occasion, in 2006, in discussing the removal of U.S. Attorneys, or the process of considering some U.S. Attorneys that might be asked to resign, that I was speaking with Harriet Miers and Bill Kelley, and I raised Pat Fitzgerald. And immediately after I did it, I regretted it. I thought, I knew that it was the wrong thing to do. I knew that it was inappropriate. And I remember at the time that Miss Miers and Bill Kelley said nothing. They just looked at me. And I — I immediately regretted it, and I withdrew it at the time, and I regret it now.
DURBIN: Do you recall what you said at the time, about Patrick Fitzgerald?
SAMPSON: I said: Patrick Fitzgerald could be added to this list.
DURBIN: And there was no response?
SAMPSON: No. They looked at me like I had said something totally inappropriate, and I had.
DURBIN: Why did you say it? Why did you recommend or at least suggest that he be removed as U.S. Attorney?
SAMPSON: I’m not sure, I think, I don’t remember. I think it was maybe to get a reaction from them. I don’t think that I ever — I know that I never seriously considered putting Pat Fitzgerald on a list, and he never did appear on a list.
It certainly does cement the image of Kyle Sampson as clueless boob — an image I already had of him. (Technically, I called him a “dishonest bonehead” in a previous post. Close enough. I stand by both characterizations.)
I will say, though, that if you believe him — I said if — then his testimony does some credit to Miers and Kelley, in that their reaction appears to have been one of incredulity rather than receptiveness.