Saturday, April 28, 2007

A Few More Documents from DOJ on the U.S. Attorney Firings

The Department of Justice continues to dribble out documents related to the firing of the eight U.S. Attorneys, releasing more e-mails on April 26 and 27, but also withholding over 160 e-mails and memos held by Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.  According to the list of withheld documents (here), the e-mails were sent from December 8, 2006, the day after seven of the U.S. Attorneys received the notice of their termination, until March 8, 2007, shortly before Sampson resigned his position.  He is listed as the custodian of these records.  The e-mails relate largely to dealing with inquiries from Senators and the press about the firings, and there are eight documents listed that relate to the firings.

The usual privilege list submitted in civil litigation or in response to a grand jury subpoena gives the reason(s) why the document is withheld, such as the attorney-client privilege or protected work product.  In this case, however, it is not clear what the reason is for withholding the documents from the House Judiciary Committee, which has demanded a wide range of records related to the issue.  To this point the Department of Justice has not asserted a deliberative privilege or the executive privilege, and communications with Congress are unlikely to be subject to any claim for protection.  More documents are sure to emerge, but any list of withheld documents is sure to pique the interest of the House and Senate Judiciary Committees.  An AP story (here) discusses the latest set of documents. (ph)

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