During his January 18, 2006 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Alberto Gonzales said this:
GONZALES: I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney position for political reasons or if it would, in any way, jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation. I just would not do it.
When asked on Meet the Press this morning if he "had any evidence that a U.S. attorney was removed and that removal jeopardized an ongoing investigation," Senator Schumer said he does and that the evidence is "becoming more and more overwhelming."
This is why the prosecutor purge is a genuine scandal. Not only is there clear evidence that the firings were unprecedented and purely politically-motivated, but Alberto Gonzales lied about it under oath and the White House keeps changing it's story. What conclusion can we draw from these lies and revisionisms other than they have something to hide? Namely, that these eight prosecutors were selectively fired because they did not sufficiently politicize their offices and succumb to pressure to do so, only later to be fired for "performance-related" reasons despite receiving exemplary evaluations.
Transcript below the fold...
SEN. SCHUMER: [B]ut, in these instances, the evidence is becoming more and more overwhelming that certain U.S. attorneys, and only certain ones, not all of them, but certain U.S. attorneys were fired because either they wouldn't prosecute a case that was politically advantageous to the White House or they were prosecuting a case that was disadvantageous to the White House. Every legal commentator, left, right, center, says you can't do that, that's the one thing you can't do.
MR. RUSSERT: Well, let's be specific about this because I want to show you what the attorney general said in January testifying before your committee. Let's watch Alberto Gonzales.
(Videotape, January 18, 2007)
MR. ALBERTO GONZALES: I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney position for political reasons or if it would, in any way, jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation. I just would not do it.
MR. RUSSERT: Do you have any evidence that a U.S. attorney was removed and that removal jeopardized an ongoing investigation?
SEN. SCHUMER: We do have evidence. In fact, four of the U.S. attorneys who were fired believe that played a role in their removal. Remember, these folks were called up all of a sudden on December 7th. They thought they were doing, doing a good job. They said, "You're not doing--you're fired." "Why?" "We can't tell you." Then they say--there's a little pressure. They say they weren't doing their job right. We get hold of the evaluations done by their peers, the judges, everyone in their district, they all get outstanding ratings. And then it comes out that in four of these instances, they were asked to pursue cases, individual cases, not a general policy, they were asked to pursue individual cases that they thought they shouldn't or they were perhaps pressured to stop. So, yes, there is evidence there in the--in the U.S. attorney's mind.
But, Tim, we don't have proof yet, conclusive, beyond a reasonable doubt proof. That's why we have to go forward with the investigation.
MR. RUSSERT: But this is a very serious charge, Senator. Let me show you a map of the United States and where these U.S. attorneys come from. There you'll see up in Michigan and then we have them in New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, Arkansas, Washington state and two in California. Where specifically did a U.S. attorney stop investigating or was a criminal justice case interrupted because of one of their removals?
SEN. SCHUMER: The most notorious is the Southern District of California, San Diego. Ms. Lam, the U.S. attorney, had already brought about the conviction of Duke Cunningham. It came out in the newspapers that she was continuing to pursue that investigation and it might lead to others, legislative and others. And in the middle of this investigation, she was fired. So I asked the deputy attorney general, "Why was she fired?" He said, "Well, she wasn't doing enough immigration re-entry cases." I said, "Really?" She--he said, did you tell--I asked him, "Did you tell her?" She said yes. I said, "Well, did she improve?" This was back in the summer. "Did she improve?" He said, "I have no idea." Well, gee whiz, if you're firing someone in the middle of the most heated political investigation in America, don't you think you ought to have a reason and know the reason?
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