More documents on the prosecutor purge

The Justice Department releases more papers to the House Judiciary Committee.

Published March 28, 2007 9:00PM (EDT)

The House Judiciary Committee has just posted a new collection of prosecutor-purge documents provided to it by the Department of Justice.

In a letter accompanying the documents, Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling explains that the department has previously produced documents related to testimony its officials gave before Congress "out of concern that" they "may have provided inaccurate or incomplete information on those occasions." Now, Hertling says, that same concern has prompted the department to produce documents related to a letter that went out over his signature on Feb. 23 -- a letter in which the department tried to push back at claims that it had fired Arkansas U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins to make way for Friend of Rove Tim Griffin. The almost-stated implication: The representations made in the Feb. 23 letter were false, too.

We're making our way through the new documents now. What we've seen so far are e-mail messages within the Justice Department and between the Justice Department and the White House as former Alberto Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson drafted the Feb. 23 letter.

At one point in the back-and-forth, Sampson tells his Justice Department colleagues: "Because this letter mentions Rove and alludes to Harriet [Miers], I'd like to send it to WHCO today for their review, with an eye on getting it out tomorrow. THx."

Sampson then forwards his draft response to Deputy White House Counsel William Kelley with the note: "As you will see, the response touches on White House entities/equities and obviously concerns a hot-button issue of mutual interest -- hence, I'm forwarding it to you for WHCO review (and review by whomever else you think is appropriate). I would like to get this out tomorrow afternoon; sorry for the tight turnaround. Thanks!"

Update: So what was "inaccurate" in the Feb. 23 letter? TPM Muckraker's Paul Kiel says it's the claim that Karl Rove wasn't involved in lobbying for Griffin's appointment. The new documents show that Sampson drafted the letter -- and Sampson surely knew that Rove had pushed for Griffin to get the job.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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