Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Friday, April 13, 2007

  NPR blows US Attorneys story wide open

All Things Considered (NPR) moments ago aired a blockbuster of a story by Ari Shapiro, who said that he had sources with access to the White House who blew the Bush administration's cover story on the firing of the US Attorneys. The plan originated with Karl Rove, and his idea was to fire all the US Attorneys in order to conceal the fact that the mass firing was meant specifically to get rid of just a few of them.

From NPR:

NPR now has new information about that plan. According to someone who's had conversations with White House officials, the plan to fire all 93 U.S. attorneys originated with political adviser Karl Rove. It was seen as a way to get political cover for firing the small number of U.S. attorneys the White House actually wanted to get rid of. Documents show the plan was eventually dismissed as impractical.

If true, that will fundamentally alter the nature of this scandal. The sourcing here is of course thin, although I have never found Shapiro to play fast and loose with the facts. It's important to underline that Shapiro's report states: "Documents show the plan was eventually dismissed as impractical. Thus there is documentary evidence, dating to the period after the plan was hatched, to support the contention of Shapiro's source that the plan from the outset was designed so as to cover their tracks.

It's worth remembering that one month ago, even as their first set of lies were coming unstuck regarding the origin of the idea for the firings, Rove and the White House were playing it coyly.

Rove went out to a college audience to get into circulation one hell of a lie about his role. It looked like he was trying to 'muddy things up' a little. From Lara Jakes Jordan of the Associated Press:

The White House maintains that Rove remembers first hearing about the idea to replace all 93 prosecutors from Harriet Miers, a top White House aide designated at the time to follow Gonzales as the president's counsel. "He has not said who the idea originated with,'' White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Thursday evening.

But earlier Thursday, Rove told journalism students in Alabama that the decision to fire each prosecutor "was made at the Department of Justice on the basis of policy and personnel.''

Hmmm..."remembers first hearing about the idea to replace all 93..." There's plenty of wiggle room in that statement, especially since Rove was officially refusing to be drawn about "who originated" the idea. "Hearing" about a specific version of the plan, and "originating" the idea, are not necessarily the same thing.

In any case, Rove was so deeply interested in the outcome of discussions that he was rushing the matter along very early in 2005.

In a message on Jan. 6, 2005, Colin Newman, a White House lawyer, wrote to David Leitch, another lawyer in his office: "Karl Rove stopped by to ask you (roughly quoting) 'how we planned to proceed regarding U.S. Attorneys, whether we were going to allow all to stay, request resignations from all and accept only some of them or selectively replace them, etc.'"

The email was titled "Question from Karl Rove". Pushing the lawyers for answers. That's the sort of thing you'd associate with a person who has originated the plan. It's a little harder to picture Rove popping in to check up on the progress of a proposal originated by Miers or DoJ.

Rove presented those lawyers with three options rather than, say, four. The fourth option, never explored, was to "request resignations from all and accept them all." As far as Rove was concerned, then, the plan "to replace all 93 prosecutors" was never a real option; instead, it was a smokescreen for more limited firings.


The NPR report also adds the following new information:

In a letter Thursday, White House Counsel Fred Fielding told Congress he won't budge from his original offer — to let Congress interview White House staffers privately, with no oath or transcript.

Sources tell NPR that Fielding actually wants to negotiate with Congress about how the interviews will take place. But Fielding has not been able to persuade President Bush to go along.

That suggests that Fielding at least is beginning to feel desperate. And well he should.

There's an audio link to the full report by Shapiro here.

crossposted from Unbossed

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