Today I attended a DC Bar program entitled “Politics Inside the Department of Justice: Did the Bush Administration Cross the Line?” The panel consisted of Bud Cummins, (former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, one of eight
The most interesting insights came from Cummins, who gave a candid and balanced assessment of the
During the discussion, Savage referred to the May 11, 2006 email sent by Kyle Sampson, telling another DOJ official that “[t]he real problem we have right now with Carol Lam that leads me to conclude that we should have someone ready to be nominated on 11/18, the day her 4-year term expires.” Although the email says nothing about what the “real problem” was, Savage argued that the timing suggests that Lam’s firing was related to the search warrant executed on CIA official Dusty Foggo a couple of days later.
After the panel discussion, I talked with Savage, who seems like a nice young man, and tried to persuade him that this inference is patently ridiculous. As I explained to him, there is absolutely no evidence that (a) Sampson knew anything about the Foggo search warrant, or (b) anyone at DOJ or the WH cared about, or ever tried to stop, either the Foggo search warrant or the Cunningham investigation more broadly. Add to this the fact that Lam was on the list of US attorneys to be fired long before there was a Cunningham investigation, and the fact that there are other DOJ emails in the same time frame indicating that the “real problem” with Lam related to her handling of immigration cases and had nothing to do with Cunningham or Foggo. (I have written a more extensive analysis of this issue, which I will put up on this site once we get the capability).
Savage didn’t dispute these facts and said that he wasn’t asserting that Lam had in fact been dismissed for reasons relating to the Foggo/Cunningham investigation, only that there was evidence (“smoke” as he put it) to suggest the possibility. I suggested that if he really believes this, he should investigate and determine whether there is any substantiation for this theory. He is an investigative reporter after all.