Hung out to dry by the Attorney General, Kyle Sampson
Thu Mar 29, 2007 23:22

Kyle Sampson...

Hung out to dry by the Attorney General, Kyle Sampson tells ...
Mother Jones, CA - 4 hours ago
... held a press conference placing the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of his former chief-of-staff, Kyle Sampson, who’d resigned the day before. ...

10 Things You Didn't Know About Kyle Sampson
By Danielle Burton
Posted 3/29/07

1. Dennis Kyle Sampson was born in 1969 in Cedar City, Utah.

2. He served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints among Hmong refugees who had emigrated from Laos to Minnesota.

3. Sampson earned a bachelor's degree in American studies from Brigham Young University in 1993. He went on to graduate with honors from the University of Chicago Law School. He was the articles editor for the school's Law Review.

4. After law school, Sampson clerked for the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and worked at the Salt Lake City firm Parr Waddoups Brown Gee & Loveless. In 1999, he became counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, working with Sen. Orrin Hatch.

5. Since the inauguration in 2001, Sampson has worked in several positions with the Bush administration. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that he "drew on a friendship he had built in law school with Elizabeth Cheney, the daughter of the vice president, to land a job."

6. In 2003, he was appointed counselor to Attorney General John Ashcroft. In February 2005, he became deputy chief of staff and counselor to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Later that year, he was appointed Gonzales's chief of staff.

7. In 2006, Sampson expressed interest in becoming the U.S. attorney for Utah, even though he had never spent time as a full-time prosecutor. While Justice officials and the White House backed Sampson, a few key Republicans (including Orrin Hatch) backed Brett Tolman. In the end, Hatch reportedly appealed directly to Gonzales to drop Sampson's bid. Later that year, Bush nominated Tolman for the spot.

8. Sampson is currently caught up in the scandal surrounding the firings of eight U.S. attorneys. Released documents and E-mails indicate Sampson had a role in the politically motivated firings. On March 12, 2007, Sampson resigned as Gonzales's chief of staff.

9. The Washington Post reports that Sampson used to play point guard on a basketball team with Ashcroft and that he runs marathons (finishing a 2006 Richmond one in 4 hours and 21 minutes).

10. Sampson now lives in Arlington, Va., with his wife, Noelle, and three children.

Compiled by the U.S. News Library staff


BYU Magazine

BYU NewsNet

Department of Justice

Department of Justice

Department of Justice

New York Times

Roll Call

Salt Lake Tribune

Washington Post

KWAME HOLMAN: Kyle Sampson's testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee was the most hotly anticipated in recent memory.


SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), Vermont: Mr. Sampson, please stand and raise your right hand. Do you solemnly swear that the testimony you're about to give in this matter shall be the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help you God?

KYLE SAMPSON, Former Gonzales Chief of Staff: Yes, sir.

KWAME HOLMAN: As chief of staff to Attorney General Gonzales before resigning March 12th, Sampson orchestrated the controversial firings of eight U.S. attorneys. That act has sparked a furor inside and outside the Justice Department and put Gonzales' job in jeopardy.

Today, speaking publicly on the issue for the first time, he said the attorney general and former White House counsel Harriet Miers discussed replacing U.S. attorneys and approved the ultimate firings, contradicting Gonzales' statements that he was not consulted beforehand.

KYLE SAMPSON: The decision makers in this case were the attorney general and the counsel to the president. I and others made staff recommendations, but they were approved and signed off on by the principals.

KWAME HOLMAN: Some of those discussions took place at a meeting last November 27th, 10 days before seven of the attorneys were fired.

KYLE SAMPSON: I don't think the attorney general's statement that he was not involved in any discussions about U.S. attorney removals is accurate.

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), Pennsylvania: Is what, is accurate?

KYLE SAMPSON: I don't think it's accurate.

KWAME HOLMAN: Sampson testified voluntarily, after the committee authorized subpoenaing him last week.

Sampson's colleague, Monica Goodling, the department's White House liaison who was present at many of the critical meetings, told the committee she would invoke her Fifth Amendment right not to testify.

White House political adviser Karl Rove and former counsel Miers may be subpoenaed, but the president has said he will not allow them to testify publicly or under oath.

In his testimony, Sampson also disputed Gonzales' claim that he had not told Justice Department officials about his talks with the White House regarding the firings, leading those officials to testify erroneously before Congress.

Gonzales blamed Sampson, his former chief of staff, on March 13th.

ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. Attorney General: 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.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), New York: Was that an accurate statement that he made?

KYLE SAMPSON: Senator, I believe that at no time did I ever intend to mislead the Congress or mislead witnesses that were coming before the Congress. I think we mishandled the preparation for Mr. McNulty's testimony...

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: Sir, I'm sorry to interrupt. I just am trying to get yes or no questions. He said, OK, that the mistake that occurred here was that information you had, Kyle Sampson had, was not shared with individuals within the department. Is that true or false?

KYLE SAMPSON: Senator, I shared information with anyone who wanted it. I was very open and collaborative in the process, in the preparation for Mr. McNulty and Mr. Moschella's testimony.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: So I want to ask, did you share information with Mr. McNulty and Mr. Moschella?


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER: So the attorney general's statement is wrong?

Politics versus performance

KWAME HOLMAN: Since the controversy broke, Gonzales has maintained that the firings were not politically motivated, but for performance-related reasons. Today, Sampson said there is no real difference between the two interpretations.

The prosecutors, he argued, were fired because they did not sufficiently support the administration's priorities, which is part of their mandate as presidential appointees.

KYLE SAMPSON: The distinction between political- and performance-related reasons for removing a U.S. attorney is, in my view, largely artificial. A U.S. attorney who is unsuccessful from a political perspective -- either because he or she has alienated the leadership of the department in Washington or cannot work constructively with law enforcement or other governmental constituencies in the district -- is unsuccessful.

KWAME HOLMAN: Several senators queried Sampson regarding an e-mail he sent about Carol Lam of San Diego, one of the fired U.S. attorneys. Shortly after news broke that warrants would be issued by her office in a corruption probe involving Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis, Sampson wrote to White House Deputy Counsel William Kelley, saying, "The real problem we have right now is Carol Lam. We should have someone ready to be nominated the day her four-year term expires."

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: Now, my question is: Was there any connection between those two events -- the issuance of the search-and-seizure warrants, the broadening of the investigation to include a member of the House, chairman of the Appropriations Committee -- and the e-mail which you sent, saying, "We ought to be looking to replace Ms. Lam"?

KYLE SAMPSON: There was never any connection, in my mind, between asking Carol Lam to resign and the public corruption case that her office was working on. The real problem at that time was her office's prosecution of immigration cases, in the months...

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER: And that's the sole reason she was asked to resign?

KYLE SAMPSON: No, sir, but at that time of that e-mail, that's what was in my mind when I said, "The real problem with Carol Lam that leads me to believe that she should be asked to resign when her four-year term expires."

KWAME HOLMAN: Republican Jeff Sessions concluded that a combination of miscommunications and ill-advised statements had ended up doing harm to the Department of Justice.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), Alabama: These are matters that have cast a cloud over the department. And it's very sad. I don't think that we have people here with the kind of malicious intent to do wrong that has been suggested; I reject that. But a series of misjudgments, and overreaching, and pushing harder than should be, perhaps, or something has resulted in a situation that's not healthy.

KWAME HOLMAN: Attorney General Gonzales is scheduled to appear before the Judiciary Committee on April 17th.

JIM LEHRER: And to Judy Woodruff.

Michael Greenberger
Justice Dept., Clinton Administration
This has not been good for the [Justice] Department. It's not been good for the American people who want to have a high opinion of the department.

Attorney general 'on the hot seat'

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