Monday, March 26, 2007

Sampson Going To Bat For The Team

We are getting a preview of the gooper talking point that the defenders of Alberto Gonzales will be using to cast doubt upon whether the U.S. Attorney flap is related to obstruction of justice or other tampering with ongoing federal investigations.

The story will be "bureaucratic bungling" on the part of DOJ, not Rovian political skullduggery.

Gonzales' former number two will apparently be offering up this interpretation in his testimony later this week.

Friends say D. Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, believes that bureaucratic bungling rather than intentional wrongdoing was at the root of controversy over replacement of eight U.S. attorneys. Officials in both parties say Sampson’s testimony this Thursday before the Senate Judiciary Committee could provide a crucial roadmap to what happened, with Gonzales’ credibility at stake.

After the Justice Department released e-mails on Friday night that appeared to contradict the assertion by Gonzales that he had not been "involved in any discussions" about the firings, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the committee, said on Saturday: "The Sampson testimony is now more crucial than ever. He was at the center of it all. He can tell us what the attorney general knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it." ...

The friends say Sampson, 37, does not plan to deliver bombshells, and say that Democrats looking for plots and schemes will be disappointed. Like other Republicans, Sampson will contend there was no underlying sin, just a botched response.

"He is not personally of the opinion now, based on what he knows, that anybody at the Department of Justice did anything intentionally wrong," said a friend familiar with Sampson's thinking.

Sampson is testifying voluntarily, sparing the committee from having to decide whether to subpoena him. "He doesn't feel that he has anything to hide," the friend said. "He doesn’t feel that there's any aspect of this story that he can't explain publicly. He's hoping to contribute what he knows in the hope that getting the truth out, as fully as it can be gotten out, will ultimately help calm the situation rather than aggravate it."

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