It was billed as an oversight hearing on the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and director Robert Mueller III faced the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning as the sole witness.
Most every Senator who showed up for the hearing grilled Mueller about the misuse of national security letters. “How can it be that your highly trained agents made so many mistakes?” wondered Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter, referring to affadavits filled out with wrong information. Mueller, ever the gentleman, noted that there were thousands of facts in an affidavit. “I’m not impressed with your thousands of facts,” responded Specter.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, however, who’s sharing the lead among Senate Democrats on the U.S. Attorney issue, spent his questioning time on the subject of the “unceremoniously dismissed” U.S. attorneys.
“Did you ever talk to Kyle Sampson about the performance of the fired U.S. attorneys,” he asked Mueller at one point, referring to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' former chief of staff, who resigned amid the controversy. There was a long pause. “I'm not discounting the possibility of some conversation," he said, "but I have no recollection."