Eight federal prosecutors were fired last year because they did not sufficiently support President Bush’s priorities, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ former chief of staff told the Senate Judiciary Committee today, reports the Associaed Press. Democrats called that standard “highly improper.” Ex-Aide Kyle Sampson said, “The distinction between ‘political’ and ‘performance-related’ reasons for removing a United States attorney is, in my view, largely artificial. A U.S. attorney who is unsuccessful from a political perspective,” Sampson said, “is unsuccessful.”
“We have a situation that’s highly improper. It corrodes the public’s trust in our system of Justice,” said Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy. “It’s wrong.” Sampson said federal prosecutors serve at the president’s pleasure and are judged in large part on whether they pursue or resist administration policy. The Justice Department admitted it gave senators inaccurate information about the firings and presidential political adviser Karl Rove’s role in trying to secure a U.S. attorney’s post in Arkansas for his former aide Tim Griffin.