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Update: Because of the Dkos one-diary a day restriction, we have started a diary on ePluribus Media US Attorney Hearings, in their own words for those on dialup, but will continue updating here.

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Thanks to B R Janet, BarelyContained Fury, Ellicat, jancw, Cliffy, Shayera, madgranny, and everyone for the liveblogging comments!

House Judiciary Committee is holding hearings this afternoon on the firings of the U.S. Attorneys.  RenaRF and Elise are both there.  We hope to get reports from them live from the hearing.  

Please consider this a live thread for everyone to blog on the hearings.  We will try to get reports from RenaRF and Elise but they have not been able to get a live connection to a laptop.  

Watch the live webcast here.  

Note - the hearings begin at 2:00 PM EST.  

Note - RenaRF is sending messages via her blackberry

"I'm watching Conyers give his statement right now.  He was just rudely interrupted by Canon.  Witnesses are now taking their seats and standing behind their chairs."

"We are warned that moschella may not want to answer all the questions.  They are tring to do some privacy waiver on a limited basis so that Moschella can repeat things, and all ah witnesses agree."

"Moschella is introduced.  All the Ags returned to their seats.  Moschella is younger than I thought.  The cameras (still) are out of the camera shot but RIGHT in Moschella's face - about 8 of them.

Canon interrupts again inquiring of the chair about the scope - what is this guy's problem?"

"Moschella makes his statement.  Immediately goes to the "40 other" ags who have left in 6 years."

"Darryl ISSA keeps entering and leaving.  During Moscrlls's statement he's talking with people at the side of the room.

Moschella characterizes the ag firings as unfortunate in that they (justice?) didn't give them reasons why they were let go, whch has fueled wild speculation.  No ags were fired for political reasons."

"Moschella essentially poo-poos the allegations, he defends the admin, and he runs out of time on his statement."

"Questions:

Moschella is asked why each ag specifically was let go-

Lam: admin priorities in violent crime and immigration.  Her gun prosecution #a at the bottom of the list.  Border issues (?) didn't stack up.

Mckay: justice had policy differences and were concerned about the manner in which he advocated for particular things."

"Cummins: asked to move on after he indicated he would not serve out his term and they id'd a returning Iraq war jag-type interested in an ags position."

"Bogden: given the importance of the district, there was interest in seeing renewed energy and vigor in that position.  Admin was fielding the best teeam possible.

Iglesias:  (canon interrupts again). General sense that in his district that it was in need of greater leadership.  He had delegated overall running of the office.

Charlton: had undertaken a policy in his ildistrict to taping FBI interviews which had national implications.  It was completely contrary to the way policy is developed at doj."

"ISSA is still here, BTW."

"They are arguing rules now, and Vsbob's being a poop."

"Canon kisses moschella's ass a bit."

"I'll divert her for a moment because canon's worstions are totally softball.

The hearing room is pretty big.  There are, as you can see, 2 rows for Congresspeople.  There are approx 6 rows of seats for witnesses and observers, and all seats are filled.

There is the witness table front and center, a table for the clerk to the legt of that, and a table for Republican staffers to the left.  To the left of That table is the press table, whee Elise and I sit.  We're duecyly behind the CNN camera.

There are hordes of staff behind the Reps, and there's constant movement to and from the room."

"Conyers is up next.  He reiterates when the discussion began to remove ags; Moschella agrees basically yes.  Conyers wants to know who participated in the discussion.  Conyera names people, and Moschella agrees that these people were involved in the decision.

Conyers focuses on one individual (boden?), a staffer, who will be leaving his job in a # of weeks."

"Keller asks questions now.  Keller is interested only in Lam.  Wants to know if lam's prosecution of duke Cunningham's prosecution had anything to do with during of Lam.

Moschella says "of course not".  Keller talks about ISSA writing to complain that Lam wasn't pearciting alien smugglers before public knowledge of Cunningham.

BTW, neither Lamar Smith nor Barney Frank has made the hearing."

"Johnson fron GA is questioning now.  He references Monica Goodland, and references that her job is to be a liaison to the White House.  Johnson wants to know if Goodland and the ag or the White House could have had conversations about which Moschella didn't know.  Moschella says it's possible.

Johnson wants to know who created and controlled the during list - Moschella doesn't know of a list.  Johnson stays on the list concept, and Moschella agrees it was formed by consensus.  Johnson would like documents to evidence a consensus agreement.

Moschella himself didn't make a list; he doesn't know who might have a list, and he doesn't have a record of dates that they met.

Moschella hedges on Johnson's specific question about providing in future memos, emails, etc."

Programming note - "I'm going to save battery a but for the witnesses."

"A general kind of observation.  It's clear that Moschella is standing by the "reasons" cited for the firings.  The only blame Moschella will asime is to having handled the firings unprofessionally in that doj did not give firees "reasons".

The Republican questions have pretty much Carried the same water so far.  The Democrat questions aren't beceaseult cutting right to the heart of the issue, but that may be because they are laying necessary groundwork (and perhaps traps?) for future hard-hitting items."

"I'll add something else I find interesting - here the Reps and Moschella are talking about the ags, who are seated behind the witness table.  The ags are utterly stone-faced, even when their own professional conduct is being publicly questioned."

"Cohen of TN asked the best question, wanting to know if the hiring of the jag dude (Griffin) constituted the entire "Iraqi veteran affirmative action plan".  Heh."

"Showtime.  The ags take their seats.  Moschella's staff hidflea around him - there are at least 2 staffers with him, each with a huge binder.  Moschella, at one point, looks peeved."

"Lam handles the opening remarks for ALL of the ags.  She wears a sedate black suit and she is a comfortable speaker.  She does a good job, talking about their jobs, the importance of keeping politics out of their jobs, a turns around to when they were fired."

"Paul Charlton talks and it's interesting.  He basically says that he was taping confessions so he wouldn't have to plead down or lose child molestation cases.  When the told Charlton to stop this, he said he'd quit over it.  They asked him not to quit but to apply for a pilot program by providing info on how not having tapes affects outcomes.  He did so, was fired some months later, and never did hear back from doj.

Why is the admin so against taping these interviews?  That's what I find weird."

"McKay talks next and tells that he did the program Moschella referenced with full permission of the dpty ag."

"Iglesias is now talking directly about Wilson, who apparently wanted to know "what was up" with sealed indictments.  Domenici' it turns out, actually called him AT HOME.  Iglesias didn't give Domenici info, Domenici hung up on him, and 6 weeks later Iglesias was let go."

"Canon is questioning now.  Canon generally makes a statement that while the ags joint opening statement said it wasn't going to speculate, Iglesias essentially speculated (duh)."

The Bush Administration’s Unprecedented Politicization of the US Attorneys Office

Brief Timeline

March 9, 2006 President Bush signs the USA PATRIOT Improvement and Reauthorization Act. Text inserted into this act removed the prior requirements for Senate confirmation or US District Court approval -- background information on the Patriot Act's effect and impact on how U.S. Attorneys are appointed, by Adam Lambert (clammyc) The Alberto Gonzales Appointments: How the Process Has Changed and Why this is so Important

June 2006 Bud Cummins, US Attorney for the Eastern District in Arkansas is asked to resign by a top Justice official "to give another person the opportunity to serve" (WSJ, 1/16/2007)

December 7, 2006 Senior DOJ official Michael Battle calls US Attorneys Carol Lam in San Diego, Kevin Ryan in San Francisco,John McKayin Seattle, David Iglesias in New Mexico, Daniel Bogden, in Nevada and Paul Charlton in Arizona and requests their resignations

January 19, 2007 Senator Dianne Feinstein first calls foul on the ouster of attorneys -- two from California, Lam and Ryan.

U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan, who announced his resignation Tuesday after 4 1/2 years as the top federal prosecutor in coastal Northern California, actually was fired by the Bush administration, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday.

   The California Democrat made her assertion at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing while questioning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about federal prosecutors who have been recently removed by President Bush. [source]

January 26, 2007: McClatchy reports on the filing of legislation by Conyers and Feinstein

In the wake of the recent firings of a half-dozen U.S. attorneys, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, filed bills that would restore to federal judges the right to name interim appointees when vacancies develop. On Thursday, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., whose office has confirmed that he inserted language making the change in Patriot Act last year, gave his qualified support to Feinstein's bill.

February 6, 2007 Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

[I]n this Administration U.S. Attorneys are never—repeat, never— removed, or asked or encouraged to resign, in an effort to retaliate against them, or interfere with, or inappropriately influence a particular investigation, criminal prosecution, or civil case. Any suggestion to the contrary is unfounded, and it irresponsibly undermines the reputation for impartiality the Department has earned over many years and on which it depends.  

February 22, 2007 Margaret Chiara, US Attorney in Michigan, announces to her office that her resignation has been requested and that she is resigning, effective March 16, 2006
March 1, 2007 The Judiciary subcommittee on commercial and administrative law issued subpoenas for HE "Bud" Cummins, David Iglesias, John McKay and Carol Lam.

Democrats issued their first major subpoenas yesterday since taking control of Congress, as a House subcommittee voted to compel testimony from four former U.S. attorneys who were part of a wave of firings by the Justice Department. [source]

March 4, 2007 Sen. Pete Domenici of New Mexico releases a statement that he spoke with US Attorney Iglesias weeks before his resignation was requested. He characterized his interest in the high profile investigation of a state Democrat as follows: "I asked Mr. Iglesias if he could tell me what was going on in that investigation and give me an idea of what timeframe we were looking at".

March 5, 2007 Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico acknowledged that she too had contacted US Attorney Iglesias. She reported that the call was "brief and professional" and that she wanted him to "have the opportunity to clear his name"

March 5, 2007 Michael Battle resigns source

March 5, 2007 Big one from Eric Lichtblau in the NYT-

The former federal prosecutor in Maryland said Monday that he was forced out in early 2005 because of political pressure stemming from public corruption investigations involving associates of the state's governor, a Republican.

   "There was direct pressure not to pursue these investigations," said the former prosecutor, Thomas M. DiBiagio. "The practical impact was to intimidate my office and shut down the investigations."

Originally posted to ePluribus Media on Tue Mar 06, 2007 at 10:55 AM PST.

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