The Associated Press has obtained a copy of the written testimony that the former Chief of Staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Kyle Sampson plans to read into the record before he testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. Sampson is set to defend himself against the idea that there was political pressure in the firings. “The distinction between ‘political’ and ‘performance-related’ reasons for removing a United States attorney is, in my view, largely artificial,” he said. “A U.S. attorney who is unsuccessful from a political perspective … is unsuccessful.” 

Sampson then channeled the Nixon’s administration’s standard of loyalty for those who serve the president. “Presidential appointees are judged not only on their professional skills but also their management abilities, their relationships with law enforcement and other governmental leaders and their support for the priorities of the president and the attorney general,” Sampson said. He is basically saying that the U.S. attorney positions are political ones, and this rather novel notion appears to fly in the face of every single administration’s practices over the past three decades.

The common wisdom has always been that in order for the attorneys to be most effective, they need to be focused on prosecutions not politics. Sampson wrote in his testimony that the attorneys were not fired for prosecuting too many Republicans and too few Democrats, but this isn’t going to wash with the Democrats.  The chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said that the investigation would continue on even if Gonzales resigns. “In case anybody’s thinking of shortchanging it that way, I have a message for them: We’ll finish this investigation before we’ll have any confirmation hearings for a new attorney general. I want to know what the facts were,” Leahy said.

I am really starting to wonder what the Democrats do want from all this. To me if the evidence shows that Gonzales was behind this, and he resigns, then that should be the end of it. I think that the investigators should continue to follow the evidence until they get to the bottom of this. If they are interested in facts, then they need to keep an open mind and let the evidence guide them.

 By the way, Sampson’s remarks are the perfect example of what happens when a president puts his political operatives in charge of administering the government. Political operatives tend to ignore everything else, while only seeing and thinking about everything in political terms, which is great if you are running for office, but really terrible if you are running a government that functions in a very slow and incremental way. I think we are almost past the point of no return in this story. If someone doesn’t blink soon, things will get very ugly.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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