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April 20, 2007
Gonzales hearing: Sen. Whitehouse's chart details flow between White House, Justice Dept.
R.I. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a former U.S. Attorney who defeated Republican Lincoln Chafee in November, was among those on the Senate Judiciary Committee questioning Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales yesterday, and he brought a chart. Here's how senior editor Dahlia Lithwick at Slate described it (Al, the President's Man):
...One of the finest moments comes when Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., busts out a big, big chart. Which happens after almost everyone has gone home. The chart compares the Clinton protocol for appropriate contacts between the White House and the DoJ on pending criminal cases with the Bush protocol. According to Whitehouse, the Clinton protocol authorized just four folks at the White House to chat with three folks at Justice. The chart had four boxes talking to three boxes. Out comes the Bush protocol, and now 417 different people at the White House have contacts about pending criminal cases with 30-some people at Justice. You can just see zillions of small boxes nattering back and forth. It seems that just about everyone in the White House, including the guys in the mailroom, had a vote on ongoing criminal matters.
Sen. Pat Leahy, D-Vt., calls this "the most astounding thing" he's seen in 32 years.
Here's the chart:
Over at Findlaw, Watergate-era White House counsel John Dean fills in the background (Attorney General Alberto Gonzales's "Reconfirmation Hearings": Why, In the End, They Will Change Nothing):
...Senator Whitehouse said he had found correspondence in the files of the Senate Judiciary Committee from the days when Orrin Hatch was chairman relating to an investigation of the relationship between the Clinton White House and the Justice Department (under Attorney General Janet Reno). Hatch was concerned about the independence of the Department of Justice, so he wanted to know who in the White House could speak with whom in the Justice Department. The correspondence showed that four people in the White House (the President, Vice President, chief of staff, and White House counsel) could speak with three people in the Justice Department (the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney and the Associate Attorney General) - period.
Senator Whitehouse discovered - and created a chart to make the point - that in the Bush White House, a shocking 417 people could speak with 30 different people in the Justice Department. It was a jaw-dropper.
Will 447 subpoenas for emails come out of this?
You can read the entire exchange on the last third of the last of 15 pages of the hearing transcript at the Washington Post. (As junior member of the Committee, Whitehouse speaks last; his questioning, which came near the end of the five-hour hearing, begins here.)
Plus: At YouTube, a two-and-a-half-minute snippet of video from the hearing of an exchange in which Sen. Whitehouse challenges Gonzales's narrow definition of impropriety.
Earlier: Judiciary Panel's Courtroom Presence: Early Verdict on Whitehouse Favorable, April 13 Washington Post.
Posted by Sheila Lennon at 10:13 AM | Permalink
This is such a waste of time (and taxpayer's money!). Nothing illegal or criminal took place here; the President has the right to hire and fire as he sees fit. What we've got here are a bunch of vengeful Democrats with nothing better to do with their time that to go on fishing expeditions in the hope of catching the 'big cahuna'. The Dems don't have an agenda, they don't have a platform, they don't have a plan. At least nothing that could be considered for the benefit of their constituency. Is this how Whitehouse is going to spend his time in the Senate? All he showed was that under Clinton, NO ONE knew what was going on, and under Bush, EVERYONE has better than a clue as to what's going on. Can't hide or keep secrets if 447 people are talking!!!
Posted by: Ginja on April 20, 2007 1:42 PM
You don't get it, do you Ginja? The politicization of the justice department means that the extreme amount of corruption we've seen in this administration would never get investigated if political hacks, and lawyers who've graduated from the 4th tier law school of Pat Robertson (of whom 150 work in the WH...according to their own web site), are allowed to meddle in ongoing investigations. "Under Bush everyone has a clue"!!!! Then why does Gonzalez not know anything substantive about why these 8 fine public servants were fired?
Posted by: Sir Robin on April 20, 2007 4:18 PM
Sorry Ginja, I look at those charts and it just convinces me (a lifelong conservative and Republican) that this crew just do not value our democracy. Period.
Posted by: odograph on April 21, 2007 11:45 AM
I like Sheldon Whitehouse. I would say, if we had more men in our government like SW, democracy would flourish and we would once again be respected in the world.
His chart was quite an eye opener. Can the damage be fixed?
Posted by: Martha Kelly on April 23, 2007 12:18 PM