From the NYT:
"The White House was deeply involved in the decision late last year to dismiss federal prosecutors, including some who had been criticized by Republican lawmakers, administration officials said Monday.
Last October, President Bush spoke with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday. Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, was among the politicians who complained directly to the president, according to an administration official.
The president did not call for the removal of any specific United States attorneys, said Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman. She said she had “no indication” that the president had been personally aware that a process was already under way to identify prosecutors who would be fired.
But Ms Perino disclosed that White House officials had consulted with the Justice Department in preparing the list of United States attorneys who would be removed.
Within a few weeks of the president’s comments to the attorney general, the Justice Department forced out seven prosecutors.
Previously, the White House has said that Mr. Bush’s aides approved the list of prosecutors only after it was compiled."
And by some strange coincidence, the Justice Department official who helped draw up the list just happened to resign yesterday, "after acknowledging that he did not tell Justice officials about the extent of his communications with the White House, leading them to provide incomplete information to Congress."
The Post adds these details:
"The documents show that Sampson sent an e-mail to Miers in March 2005 ranking 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.
The e-mails also show that Rove was interested in the appointment of a former colleague, Tim Griffin, as an Arkansas prosecutor. Sampson wrote in one e-mail that "getting him appointed was important to Harriet, Karl, etc."
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. (...)
Iglesias, the New Mexico prosecutor, was not on the list in September. Justice officials said Sampson added Iglesias 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. (...)
One e-mail from Miers's deputy, William Kelley, on the day of the Dec. 7 firings said Domenici's chief of staff "is happy as a clam" about Iglesias. Sampson wrote in an e-mail a week later: "Domenici is going to send over names tomorrow (not even waiting for Iglesias's body to cool).""
Hopefully, this will help speed up Pete Domenici's move from the US Senate to someplace where he can wander around in his pajamas all day long without anyone batting an eye. He's up for reelection in 2008.
Josh Marshall, whose site I checked right after reading this article, adds:
"There's a sub-issue emerging in the canned US Attorneys scandal: the apparently central role of Republican claims of voter fraud and prosecutors unwillingness to bring indictments emerging from such alleged wrongdoing. Very longtime readers of this site will remember that this used to be something of a hobby horse of mine. And it's not surprising that it is now emerging as a key part of this story. The very short version of this story is that Republicans habitually make claims about voter fraud. But the charges are almost invariably bogus. And in most if not every case the claims are little more than stalking horses for voter suppression efforts. That may sound like a blanket charge. But I've reported on and written about this issue at great length. And there's simply no denying the truth of it. So this becomes a critical backdrop to understanding what happened in some of these cases. Why didn't the prosecutors pursue indictments when GOP operatives started yakking about voter fraud? Almost certainly because there just wasn't any evidence for it."
This is definitely getting interesting.