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Firings Had Genesis in White House
Sampson also strongly urged bypassing Congress in naming replacements, using a little-known power slipped into the renewal of the USA Patriot Act in March 2006 that allows the attorney general to name interim replacements without Senate confirmation.
"I am only in favor of executing on a plan to push some USAs out if we really are ready and willing to put in the time necessary to select candidates and get them appointed," Sampson wrote in a Sept. 17 memo to Miers. "It will be counterproductive to DOJ operations if we push USAs out and then don't have replacements ready to roll immediately.
"I strongly recommend that as a matter of administration, we utilize the new statutory provisions that authorize the AG to make USA appointments," he wrote.
By avoiding Senate confirmation, Sampson added, "we can give far less deference to home state senators and thereby get 1.) our preferred person appointed and 2.) do it far faster and more efficiently at less political costs to the White House."
"Kyle thanks for this," Miers wrote back. "I have not forgotten I need to follow up on the info. But things have been crazy."
On the day of the Dec. 7 firings, Miers's deputy, William Kelley, wrote that Domenici's chief of staff "is happy as a clam" about Iglesias.
A week later, Sampson wrote: "Domenici is going to send over names tomorrow (not even waiting for Iglesias's body to cool)."
Miers resigned as White House counsel this January.
The documents also provide new details about the case of Griffin, a former Republican National Committee researcher who was named interim U.S. attorney in Little Rock in December.
E-mails show that Justice officials discussed bypassing the two Democratic senators in Arkansas, who normally would have had input into the appointment, as early as last August. By mid-December, Sampson was suggesting that Gonzales exercise his newfound appointment authority to put Griffin in place until the end of Bush's term.
"[I]f we don't ever exercise it then what's the point of having it?" Sampson wrote to a White House aide.