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Firings Had Genesis in White House

Bush "believes informally he may have mentioned it to the AG during the meeting discussing other matters," Perino said. "White House officials including the president did not direct DOJ to take any specific action with regards to any specific U.S. attorney."

Rove and other White House officials also forwarded complaints that U.S. attorneys were not doing enough to prosecute voter fraud.

Since the 2000 presidential election ended in dispute in Florida, Republicans have repeatedly raised concerns about possible voter fraud, alleging that convicted felons and other ineligible voters have been permitted to cast ballots to the benefit of Democrats.

Congressional committees yesterday requested that Rove testify before them about the firings; the House Judiciary Committee also requested that Miers appear.

The e-mails show that Rove was interested in the appointment of a former aide, Tim Griffin, as an Arkansas prosecutor. Sampson wrote in one that "getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc."

Sampson sent an e-mail to Miers in March 2005 that ranked all 93 U.S. attorneys. Strong performers "exhibited loyalty" to the administration; low performers were "weak U.S. attorneys who have been ineffectual managers and prosecutors, chafed against Administration initiatives, etc." A third group merited no opinion.

At least a dozen prosecutors were on a "target list" to be fired at one time or another, the e-mails show.

Only three of those eventually fired were given low rankings: Margaret Chiara in Grand Rapids, Mich.; Bud Cummins in Little Rock; and Carol S. Lam in San Diego. Two were given strong evaluations: David C. Iglesias in Albuquerque, who has alleged political interference from GOP lawmakers, and Kevin V. Ryan in San Francisco, whose firing has generated few complaints because of widespread management and morale problems in his office.

Justice Department spokeswoman Tasia Scolinos said last night that Gonzales will announce new ways of evaluating U.S. attorneys, but said the department still believes the firings were "based on performance-related considerations."

In January 2006, Sampson sent to the White House the first list of seven candidates for dismissal, including four who were fired at year's end: Chiara, Cummins, Lam and Ryan. The list also recommended Griffin and other replacements, most of whom were edited from documents viewed by The Post.

In September, Sampson produced another list of firing candidates, telling the White House that Cummins was "in the process of being pushed out" and providing the names of eight others whom "we should consider pushing out." Five on that list were fired in December; the others were spared.

Iglesias, the New Mexico prosecutor, was not on that list. Justice officials said Sampson added him in October, based in part on complaints from Sen. Pete V. Domenici and other New Mexico Republicans that he was not prosecuting enough voter-fraud cases.

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