Politics

New Justice Dept. Emails Reveal Top Rove Aides’ Involvement In Attorney Scandal

nf6_sara-taylor_200—136shkl.jpgJustice Department documents released tonight include new emails linking Karl Rove’s top aides — former White House political director Sara Taylor, who resigned last month, and her deputy Scott Jennings — to the U.S. attorney scandal. Congressional subpoenas have been authorized, but not approved, for both Taylor and Jennings.

The emails, from February 2007, all relate to the case of Rove-protege Tim Griffin, who was installed as U.S. attorney in Arkansas without Senate confirmation. Griffin’s predecessor, Bud Cummins, was fired to make way for Griffin.

In the first exchange, Taylor writes to Kyle Sampson, Alberto Gonzales’ former chief of staff, and suggests retribution against Cummins for speaking out about the reason for his firing:

I normally don’t like attacking our friends, but since Bud Cummins is talking to everyone – why don’t we tell the deal on him?

In another set of emails from Feb. 16, Taylor again writes Sampson, complaining about how Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and the Justice Department put Griffin in a “horrible position…hung to dry” by admitting that Cummins was pushed out specifically to make room for an ally of Rove. “[T]his is not good for [Griffin’s] long-term career,” Taylor writes.

In a third set of emails, Scott Jennings writes to Taylor and former Gonzales counsel Monica Goodling, suggesting the Justice Department remove a line from a press release implying that the administration would work to find another U.S. Attorney if Arkansas’ senators did not approve of Griffin.

The messages from Taylor and Jennings to the Justice officials are sent from their Republican National Committee email accounts. They provide new evidence that senior White House officials were intimately involved in the attorney scandal, and that the White House was still interested in installing Griffin as U.S. Attorney even after the controversy over the firings had become public.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said in a statement tonight:

These documents, which should have been released by the Department long ago, provide further evidence that White House officials like former Political Director Sara Taylor were deeply involved in the mass firings of well-performing prosecutors. The Department of Justice should not be reduced to a political arm of the White House. We need an end to the White House’s stonewalling of our investigations so we can learn the truth.

Read the full set of emails HERE.

UPDATE: McClatchy now has a story out. It includes this tidbit from another email in the document dump: “The White House counsel’s office thought in January that the ousted prosecutors had ‘disloyally stirred up the senators‘ but argued against criticizing them publicly because they hadn’t ‘fired any shots’ at the administration.”

UPDATE II: Jeremybloom, Pachacutec, CorrenteWire, and emptywheel have additional analysis.