No Grand Jury for Gonzales:

Today's WaPo reports:

Former attorney general Alberto R. Gonzales will not be referred to a federal grand jury for his role in the 2006 firings of nine U.S. attorneys, but a long-awaited report to be released today will recommend that a prosecutor continue to probe the involvement of lawmakers and White House officials in the episode, according to two people familiar with the case.

OIG/OPR Report on U.S. Attorney Firings:

The full report from the Justice Department Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility is no available. Here are some excerpts from the lengthy report's conclusions.

In sum, we believe that the process used to remove the nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006 was fundamentally flawed. While Presidential appointees can be removed for any reason or for no reason, as long as it is not an illegal or improper reason, Department officials publicly justified the removals as the result of an evaluation that sought to replace underperforming U.S. Attorneys. In fact, we determined that the process implemented largely by Kyle Sampson, Chief of Staff to the Attorney General, was unsystematic and arbitrary, with little oversight by the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, or any other senior Department official. In choosing which U.S. Attorneys to remove, Sampson did not adequately consult with the Department officials most knowledgeable about their performance, or even examine formal evaluations of each U.S. Attorney's Office, despite his representations to the contrary. . . .

We believe the primary responsibility for these serious failures rest with senior Department leaders -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty -- who abdicated their responsibility to adequately oversee the process and to ensure that the reasons for removal of each U.S. Attorney were supportable and not improper. These removals were not a minor personnel matter -- they were an unprecedented removal of a group of high-level Department officials that was certain to raise concerns if not handled properly. Yet, neither the Attorney General nor the Deputy Attorney General provided adequate oversight or supervision of this process. We also concluded that Sampson bears significant responsibility for the flawed and arbitrary removal process. Moreover, they and other Department officials are responsible for failing to provide accurate and truthful statements about the removals and their role in the process.

We believe our investigation was able to uncover most of the facts relating to the reasons for the removal of most of the U.S. Attorneys. However, as described in this report, there are gaps in our investigation because of the refusal of certain key witnesses to be interviewed by us, . . .

The Department's removal of the U.S. Attorneys and the controversy it created severely damaged the credibility of the Department and raised doubts about the integrity of Department prosecutive decisions. We believe that this investigation, and final resolution of the issues raised in this report, can help restore confidence in the Department by fully describing the serious failures in the process used to remove the U.S. Attorneys and by providing lessons for the Department in how to avoid such failures in the future.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. A New Special Prosecutor:
  2. OIG/OPR Report on U.S. Attorney Firings:
  3. No Grand Jury for Gonzales:
A New Special Prosecutor:

Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed a special prosecutor to examine potential misconduct by White House and Justice Department officials related to the firing of several U.S. Attorneys. From the Legal Times:

Mukasey announced the appointment of career prosecutor Nora Dannehy to investigate the firings as the report was released Monday. Dannehy, currently the acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut and a veteran of the office's white-collar and public-corruption section, will be able to subpoena witnesses to help her investigation, something the authors of the report couldn't do.

The report specifically recommends that Dannehy investigate whether Justice Department officials made false statements to Congress or to investigators or violated other federal criminal statutes, including obstruction of justice or wire fraud.

From my initial read skim of the report, it seems that the most likely prosecutable offenses would be allegedly false statements to Congress and investigators, rather than the firing of U.S. Attorneys.

The article also quotes attorneys for Alberto Gonzales and Kyle Sampson disputing the investigative report that prompted the prosecutor's appointment.

, Gonzales' lawyer, George Terwilliger III, a partner at White & Case, said the report "makes clear that Judge Gonzales engaged in no wrongful or improper conduct while recognizing, as he has acknowledged many times, that the process for evaluating U.S. attorney performance in this instance was flawed." . . .

Sampson's lawyer, Bradford Berenson, a partner at Sidley Austin, said: "It is mystifying and disappointing that the Inspector General chose to impugn Mr. Sampson's candor and integrity when, virtually alone among significant participants in this matter, Mr. Sampson at all times cooperated fully and voluntarily with any and all investigators, without preconditions, and provided his best, most honest and complete recollection of these events. He has behaved with honor and dignity throughout this difficult episode and has never attempted to shirk his responsibility for problems in the U.S. Attorney firings."