Patterico's Pontifications


Gonzales Testimony Begins with Arguably False Statement Right Out of the Gate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:26 pm

I’m starting to watch the re-run of Alberto Gonzales’s testimony, part of which I heard on the radio today, on the way in to work. From what I have seen so far, he gave the unimpressive performance I expected.

He leads right out of the gate with a seeming falsehood — or at least a misleading statement — in his opening statement today:

I also have no basis to believe that anyone involved in this process sought the removal of a U.S. Attorney for an improper reason.

I guess it depends on what the meaning of “sought” is:

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.

Did Gonzales watch Sampson’s testimony? Or is he making a lawyerly distinction between the words “suggested” and “sought”?

7 Responses to “Gonzales Testimony Begins with Arguably False Statement Right Out of the Gate”

  1. Let me jump to the guy’s defense. While the idea of replacing Fitzgerald may have been a real stupid idea (i.e., at least in this context, inappropriate), there may not have been anything improper about the reason for suggesting it, at least from the perspective of whatever they were using to put US Attorneys on the list.

    stevesturm (d3e296)

  2. Did Gonzales watch Sampson’s testimony? Or is he making a lawyerly distinction between the words “suggested” and “sought”?

    I vote for option 3 – he’ll say whatever he thinks he can get away with. It’s refreshing that Senator Coburn, a Republican, flatly told him to resign.

    DRJ (50237c)

  3. I know I’m attempting to defend the gang that can’t shoot straight, but his opening statement had to have been vetted by counsel and it’s unlikely they would have signed off on anything blatently false or misleading.

    stevesturm (d3e296)

  4. Gods I feel such shame at having Durbin as one of my Senators…

    And don’t get me started about the other one we have…

    Scott Jacobs (a1de9d)

  5. I don’t think its lawyerly hair-splitting to distinguish between saying no one’s resignation was “sought” — meaning they were actually asked for their resignation as was the case with the 8 US Attorneys who are the subject of this non-scandal — and Sampson’s comment about Fitzgerald which was nothing more than an idiot giving voice to a stupid idea which popped into his head.

    wls (859dc4)

  6. Patterico:

    Honestly, my friend, I think your hatred of Alberto Gonzales is beginning to reach BDS levels. You are so fixated upon finding some lie or falsehood or other reason that would force Bush to throw him out, that you will attack anything he says.

    Sampson clearly and unambiguously testified that he did not seriously seek to have Fitzgerald put on that list:

    I know that I never seriously considered putting Pat Fitzgerald on a list.

    He said he tossed out the “suggestion” just to get a rise out of Miers and Kelley. It was a silly joke that fell flat.

    He said it as plain as day.

    Now maybe you believe Sampson was lying. And maybe you believe that Gonzales spontaneously agreed with you that Sampson was lying. And maybe therefore you think that Gonzales must have been lying when he said that nobody sought to remove an attorney for improper reasons.

    But to the rest of us — who merely dislike Gonzales and think he’s probably incompetent for the job he is in, rather than despise him so much that we want to see him gone, no matter how much the resulting food fight damages the war, the president, and the chances to elect a Republican in 2008 — it seems like a perfectly normal thing for Gonzales to take Sampson at his word that he did not, in fact, seriously try to get Patrick Fitzgerald’s name on the list of attorneys to be ousted.

    And therefore, we don’t think Gonzales lied.



    Dafydd (445647)

  7. Bye Bye ‘Berto?…

    I didn’t try to keep up with the Gonzales hearing but Patterico did and he says he’s toast. Click here, here, here and .here. Captain Ed wasn’t too impressed either. Adios, amigo….

    Bill's Bites (72c8fd)

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