Tuesday, May 15, 2007

senator patrick leahy -- may 15, 2007 -- on schlozman's failure to appear voluntarily. . .

May 15, 2007

. . .I continue to hope that the Department will cooperate with the Committee’s investigation, but the Department’s highly selective and incomplete productions of documents have presented a hurdle since the investigation began. Indeed, it seems that the closer we get to learning the truth about these firings, the less cooperation we get from the Department.

The Department chose not to make one of its officials, Bradley Schlozman, available, to the Committee for our hearing this morning. We wanted to hear directly from Mr. Schlozman about his knowledge and recollection relating to his activities as a former interim U.S. Attorney in Missouri and his time in the Department’s Civil Rights Division. The Committee could benefit from Mr. Schlozman’s testimony, particularly as new information is revealed about concerns by Karl Rove and others in the Administration regarding purported voter fraud, and how those concerns played into the determinations to retain or remove certain U.S. Attorneys. Senators should also have the benefit of Mr. Schlozman’s testimony about the unprecedented and damaging politicization of hiring for career positions at the Department. Despite a bipartisan letter to Mr. Scholzman requesting his cooperation and an invitation voluntarily to appear this morning, he has apparently chosen not to come. The reasons for his failure to appear have, like the explanations for the U.S. Attorneys’ firings, shifted over time and were provided not directly by him. Given his failure to appear, I will seek Committee authorization to subpoena him in the near future.

I find it troubling that only through the press did we learn of the confidential order revealed two weeks ago by which the Attorney General delegated to two young aides, former Chief of Staff D. Kyle Sampson and former White House Liaison Monica Goodling, authority over the hiring and firing of many high-level employees of the Justice Department. We also learned only from the press, and not from Administration documents or witnesses at hearings or interviews, that another former U.S. Attorney whose name appeared on the lists, Todd Graves from the Western District of Missouri, was, in fact, also told to resign. Mr. Schlozman’s testimony might have shed some light on this additional firing the Department sought to hide. Instead, he is conveniently unavailable today.

It appears from the evidence gathered by the Committee in five hearings, eight interviews with current and former officials from the Department of Justice, and our review of the limited documents produced by the Department that White House officials played a significant role in developing and implementing the plan for the dismissals. Indeed, the plan seems to have originated in the White House and was formulated by and with coordination of the White House political operation. Yet, to date the White House has not produced a single document or allowed even one White House official involved in these matters to be interviews. . .

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