Keep ‘Em Transparent

This afternoon some Democrats are meeting with White House counsel Fred Fielding to work out details for the testimony of Karl Rove et al. regarding the U.S. Attorney situation. Paul Kiel writes at TPM

According to MSNBC just now, White House counsel Fred Fielding offered Democrats interviews with Karl Rove and other White House officials, but the testimony would be unsworn, behind closed doors, and no transcript would be permitted.

The headline is “White House Makes An Offer Dems Can Refuse.”

Chuck Schumer is sayin’ no deal.

We could have a real fight on our hands, folks. Let’s hope.

Update: I understand House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers held a press conference and expressed his disappointment that the White House wasn’t more cooperative. The Judiciary Committee will begin the task of issuing subpoenas tomorrow morning.

It’s a Start

Here’s a pleasant surprise — today the Senate voted 94-2 to repeal that part of the Patriot Act that allows the Attorney General to appoint “interim” U.S. attorneys who can serve without confirmation.

My next question is, who were the two? I’m guessing one was Jon Kyl (R-Arizona) who had tried to attach an amendment that would have required the Senate to vote on a U.S. attorney nominee within 120 days. That amendment was voted down.

The measure passed today would reinstate the previous law, which allows interim appointees to serve no longer than 120 days without confirmation. If the Senate fails to confirm a nominee within the time period, a court appointed another interim attorney. The White House then has the option of appointing someone else or continuing to haggle with Congress.

The measure now goes to the House of Representatives, where I suspect it will pass easily by a veto-proof majority.

Happy Trails

Last night the Justice Department released 3,000 pages of documents. House staffers have been scanning the documents and posting them on the House Judiciary Committee web site; look under the heading “What’s New.” Today TPM is looking for volunteers to search the 3,000 pages for juicy bits. If you’re into Wiki-ing, check this out.

It appears the White House is preparing to toss Alberto Gonzales overboard. I expected this, but I thought it would take longer. The White House must be anxious. Ron Hutcheson and Greg Gordon write for McClatchy Newspapers:

One prominent Republican, who earlier had predicted that Gonzales would survive the controversy, said he expected both Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty to resign soon. Another well-connected Republican said that White House officials have launched an aggressive search for Gonzales’ replacement, though Bush hadn’t decided whether to ask for his resignation.

Support for Gonzales appeared to be collapsing under the weight of questions about his truthfulness and his management ability. White House spokesman Tony Snow offered a tepid defense when asked if Gonzales would stay on the job until the end of President Bush’s term.

“We hope so,” Snow said. “None of us knows what’s going to happen to us over the next 21 months.”

I wouldn’t be surprised if Alberto is tossed this week. The White House will want to make a sacrifice to appease the investigation god before more connections are made to Karl Rove and George Bush.

Dan Eggen and John Solomon report in today’s Washington Post that

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald was ranked among prosecutors who had “not distinguished themselves” on a Justice Department chart sent to the White House in March 2005, when he was in the midst of leading the CIA leak investigation that resulted in the perjury conviction of a vice presidential aide, administration officials said yesterday.

The ranking placed Fitzgerald below “strong U.S. Attorneys . . . who exhibited loyalty” to the administration but above “weak U.S. Attorneys who . . . chafed against Administration initiatives, etc.,” according to Justice documents.

The chart was drawn by Gonzales aide D. Kyle Sampson and sent to Harriet Miers in the White House.

Update: See also Max Blumenthal, “The Porn Plot Against Prosecutors.”