The White House suggested two years ago that the Justice Department fire all 93 U.S. attorneys, says the Washington Post. The proposal eventually resulted in the dismissals of eight prosecutors last year. The dismissals took place after President Bush told Attorney General Alberto Gonzales that he had received complaints that some prosecutors had not energetically pursued voter-fraud investigations. Gonzales approved the idea of firing a smaller group of U.S. attorneys after taking office in February 2005. The aide in charge of the dismissals, chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, quit yesterday after acknowledging that he did not tell key Justice officials about the extent of his communications with the White House, leading them to provide incomplete information to Congress.
Seven U.S. attorneys were fired on Dec. 7 and another was fired months earlier, with little explanation from the Justice Department. Several former prosecutors have since alleged intimidation, including improper telephone calls from GOP lawmakers or their aides, and have alleged threats of retaliation by a Justice Department official. The administration portrayed the firings as a routine personnel matter, designed primarily to rid the department of a handful of poor performers. Documents and interviews indicate that the idea for the firings originated at least two years ago, when then-White House counsel Harriet E. Miers suggested to Sampson in February 2005 that all prosecutors be dismissed and replaced.