On March 29, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Kyle Sampson told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under oath, that he had no replacements in mind before the Justice Department fired the U.S. attorneys in Dec. 2006:
SCHUMER: Did you or did you not have in mind specific replacements for the dismissed U.S. Attorneys before they were asked to resign on December 7th, 2006.
SAMPSON: I personally did not. On December 7th, I did not have in mind any replacements for any of the seven who were asked to resign.
But a new e-mail released to the House Judiciary Committee shows that on Jan. 9, 2006 — a year before the prosecutors were fired — Sampson recommended replacements for almost every one of the U.S. attorneys on the administration’s hit list, suggesting that these prosecutors were fired to make way for partisan loyalists.
One of the suggested replacements who has received relatively little attention is Rachel Brand, whom Sampson recommended to take the place of Margaret Chiara as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan. Brand has been the Justice Department’s Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy (OLP) since June 2005. She helped push through the Bush administration’s controversial Supreme Court nominees, and ran the “murder boards” for Alito, Miers, and Roberts. Brand was also a member of the right-wing Federalist Society, which appears to be a consideration for all U.S. attorney candidates.
At Brand’s May 2005 nomination hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) raised concerns that Brand was too inexperienced and unqualified to be Assistant Attorney General for OLP:
Unfortunately, it appears she brings very little depth of experience to a position that is instrumental in setting out DOJ priorities and recommending new judges. By way of comparison, Eleanor Acheson, President Clinton’s nominee for the same position, had practiced law for 19 years prior to her appointment, and Viet Dinh, President Bush’s first nominee to head OLP was a professor at Georgetown University Law Center who had published several scholarly articles and op-eds and had held several congressional positions by the time of his appointments.
It is unlikely that less than a year working at the Justice Department had suddenly made Brand qualified to be a U.S. attorney.
(TPMmuckraker has more.)