Here it is, under questioning by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kyle Sampson admits that Carol Lam was never told of the Justice Department's disaffection with her performance on immigration prosecutions, the supposed reason for her firing.
Under questioning from Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Sampson testifies about his "bad idea" to circumvent Senate confirmation for the appointment of Tim Griffin as the U.S. Attorney in Eastern Arkansas.
"I did not think the White House would consider doing that in 92 districts," he said, meaning that he only intended to use it for Griffin. "In my discussions at the staff level with folks at the White House, I believe it was a consideration then... at the staff level, we discussed it." But he says it wasn't adopted by "the principals" (meaning Harriet Miers).
Upon further questioning by Specter, he admits that he spoke with Gonzales about the idea. "I don't think he liked the idea very much," Sampson says. He's then asked whether Gonzales specifically rejected it and says that he did after speaking with Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) about the appointment of Griffin. But it's unclear when that conversation was.
Sampson says it could have been in late December or early January. When Specter asks whether that was after Sampson wrote in a December 19, 2007 email that they should use the provision, Sampson says it was.
He says he has no recollection of Harriet Miers rejecting the idea.
Sen. Pat Leahy asks Kyle Sampson how David Iglesias ended up on the list of prosecutors to be purged, and Sampson replies,
"I don't remember hearing any complaints or anything about Mr. Iglesias' handling of corruption cases in New Mexico -- I do remember learning from, I believe, the attorney general, that he had received a complaint from Karl Rove about U.S. attorneys in 3 jurisdictions, including New Mexico. The substance of the complaint was that they were not pursuing voter fraud complaints aggressively enough."
Here's Kyle Sampson's testimony about suggesting to White House counsel Harriet Miers and deputy White House counsel Bill Kelley that they remove U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) asks if Fitzgerald was ever considered for removal?
"On one occasion in 2006, in discussing the removal of U.S. attorneys... 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 it was the wrong thing to do, I knew it was inappropriate. And I remember at the time that Harriet Miers and Bill Kelley just looked at me.... I said, "Patrick Fitzgerald could be added to this list."... They just looked at me."
Durbin asks why he suggested that. And Sampson says he doesn't know why, that maybe it was just to "get a reaction out of them."
While Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) was talking, Senate Judiciary Chairman suddenly interrupted him to say,
"we've just received word that the Republicans have objected under the Senate rules to this meeting continuing. I think that's unfortunate, but I will follow the rules of the Senate... The Republicans are the ones who don't want to have the hearings, the Republicans have the right under the rules to do that.... we will stand in recess until the Senate recesses."
Whatever the disruption, apparently it was immediately reversed. Republicans are saying that it was based on a misunderstanding. Now we're back on.
Obviously unimpressed with the qualifications of the people (Sampson, Monica Goodling) who seem to have driven the U.S. attorney purge, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) grills Sampson on what actual lawyering experience Sampson and his colleague has.
Here Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) questions Kyle Sampson about the preparation for Justice Department officials to testify before Congress. Counter to earlier remarks by Alberto Gonzales, Sampson says that "I was very open and collaborative in the process."
Here Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) questions Kyle Sampson about whether it ever occurred to him when he was making the list of U.S. attorneys whether there would be a "perception problem" with firing U.S. attorneys in the middle of important investigations. Sampson says no.
Two big things came out of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) questioning of Kyle Sampson.
The first was a glowing letter about Lam that Feinstein presented from the Director of Field Operations for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency. Lam was supposedly fired, remember, because she performed poorly on immigration prosecutions. You can read the letter here.
The second was the revelation that after the FBI bureau chief in San Diego complained to the press about Lam's firing, Samspon called FBI headquarters to complain.