Thursday, May 17, 2007

Don't You Love It When A Plan Comes Together

On December 19, 2006, Kyle Sampson sent an email to Monica Goodling entitled "Another Griffin Article" concerning the status of Tim Griffin as US Attorney in the Eastern District of Arkansas. Apparently the press was raising questions concerning Griffin's status as United States Attorney. Was he an interim appointment or was he an appointment under the then existing Patriot Act? Sampson really didn't want to answer the question directly. He thought it best to "gum this to death" by first asking the Arkansas senators to give Tim a chance. If after delaying as long as possible the senators said, "no never", Sampson's plan was to run out the clock, taking their good sweet time to advertise for, find and nominate a replacement. He also indicated that he didn't mind Griffin being referred to as "interim US Attorney" in talking points with the understanding that he was appointed by the AG and hasn't gone through the normal confirmation process. Of course, the normal time limits for dealing with interim appointments would not apply since Griffin really was permanent.

So Sampson hatched a plan. Griffin was appointed under the Patriot Act. He could stay as long as Bush remained in office. To keep the natives happy the DoJ would pretend he was just another temporary Attorney General appointment. It would work with the local yokel senators, but it wouldn't work too hard. It would run out the clock finding a replacement. All in "good faith," of course.

The plan was apparently repudiated on January 18, 2007, when Alberto Gonzales testified "Let me publicly sort of pre-empt perhaps a question you're going to ask me, and that is, I am fully committed, as the administration's fully committed, to ensure that, with respect to every United States attorney position in this country, we will have a providentially appointed, Senate confirmed United States attorney.... I think a United States attorney,... as the law enforcement leader, my representative in the community;... has greater imprimatur of authority, if in fact that person's been confirmed by the Senate." On May 10, 2007, Murray Waas of the National Journal reported

A senior Justice Department official said that the (above) statement was truthful because by then Gonzales had abandoned the idea of using the PATRIOT Act to permanently install Griffin, and he was speaking about future appointments.
The dogged emptywheel has been working the Tim Griffin angle hard. So far she has uncovered nothing to indicate that Tim Griffin won't be the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas through the end of President Bush's term. According to emptywheel, Griffin's normal term as an interim would have expired on April 20, 2007. He's still working as US Attorney, and nobody has any idea when that will end.

Both Goodling and Sampson may have left the Department of Justice, but apparently Sampson's plan lives on. The DoJ is gumming the Griffin problem. Don't you just love it when a plan comes together.

Hats way off to emptywheel.