In a press conference on March 13, 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales attributed the administration’s conflicting stories on the attorney purge to his claim that information had not been shared throughout the department. Gonzales specifically faulted his chief of staff Kyle Sampson for not properly informing Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General William Moschella prior to their testimonies before Congress. Gonzales said:
I regret the fact that information was inadequately shared with individuals within the department of Justice and that consequently information was shared with the Congress that was incomplete. But the charge for the chief of staff here was to drive this process and the mistake that occurred here was that information that he had was not shared with individuals within the department who was then going to be providing testimony and information to the Congress.
In their testimonies, McNulty and Moschella attempted to downplay White House involvement or coordination in the attorney firings.
Today, under questioning from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Sampson said, under oath, that he “shared information with anyone who wanted it.” Specifically, Sampson said he did share information with McNulty and Moschella prior to their testimonies before Congress. Schumer responded: “So the Attorney General’s statement is wrong, is false. How could it not be?” Sampson froze. Ultimately, he acknowledged Gonzales’s statement is “not accurate.” Watch it:
UPDATE: Here are the testimonies of McNulty and Moschella claiming ignorance of White House involvement in the attorneys purge.
CONYERS: Well, was anyone at the White House consulted or did they offer any input in compiling the list of U.S. attorneys to be terminated, to the best of your knowledge?
MOSCHELLA: The list was complied at the Department of Justice.
CONYERS: Was the White House consulted?
MOSCHELLA: Well, eventually, because these are political appointees which is unremarkable, send a list to the White House, let them know. [House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, 3/6/07]
SCHUMER: Was the White House involved in any way?
MCNULTY: These are presidential appointments.
MCNULTY: So the White House personnel I’m sure was consulted prior to making the phone calls. [Senate Judiciary Committee, 2/6/07]
SCHUMER: At the same press conference the Attorney General also said the charge for the chief of staff was to drive this process and the mistake that occurred here was that information that he had was not shared with individuals within the department who then were going to be providing testimony and information to congress.
The Attorney General was referring to you as his chief of staff correct?
SCHUMER: Was that an accurate state that he made?
SAMPSON: Senator I, uh, believe that at no time did I intend to mislead the congress or mislead witnesses that were coming before congress. I think we mishandled the preparation for Mr. McNulty’s testimony.
SCHUMER: Sir, I’m going to interrupt you, I’m trying to just get yes or no questions. He said that information that Carl Sampson had was not shared with individuals within the department. Is that true or false?
SAMPSON: Senator, I shared information with anyone who wanted it. I was very open with Mr. open and collaborative in the process. In the preparation for Mr. McNulty and Mr. Moschella’s testimony ….
SCHUMER: That’s what I want to ask, did you share information with Mr. McNulty with Mr. Moschella?
SAMPSON: I did.
SCHUMER: So the attorney general’s statement is wrong. It’s false.
How can it not be?
If you shared information with Mr. McNulty and Mr. Moschella and the Attorney General is saying it was not shared with individuals in the department or where providing statements to Moschella and McNulty, his statement is false. Is that correct?
SAMPSON: Senator, as I look back on that process, the problem was that we were focused on other questions.
SAMPSON: But I think that any information that I didn’t provide….
SCHUMER: Forget it, time is limited, the statement is false correct?
THe statement is false, there is no way to believe it’s not.
SAMPSON: I don’t think it’s accurate….
SCHUMER: Okay, we’ll leave it at that… It’s not accurate
SAMPSON: …if the statement implies that I intentionally withheld any information.
SCHUMER: I’m not asking intent, I’m just asking whether it was false, and you said it was inaccurate.