A House Judiciary Committee lawyer said today the committee has received a "pretty good number of internal White House memos" through an agreement with the White House amid the investigation of the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006.
The documents "do provide more information" about the controversial firing of the Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys under then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, said Elliot Mincberg, chief counsel for oversights and investigations at the House Judiciary Committee, who spoke at a forum today on prosecution misconduct.
Mincberg said the documents produced through the agreement—click here for a copy of the agreement—remain confidential (for now) but said on-the-record depositions of Karl Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers will be made public. Miers met with House Judiciary staff earlier this month behind closed doors, according to published reports. Mincberg declined to say when Rove is expected to be deposed.
The opposing sides “have made substantial progress towards fulfilling their obligations” under the agreement, according to a Justice Department filing this month in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where the dispute between the White House and the House Judiciary Committee over document production and depositions ended up.
“Number one on the hit parade” at the House Judiciary Committee is the “unprecedented firing” of U.S. attorneys, said Mincberg, former general counsel and legal director of People For the American Way.
The comprehensive investigation, Mincberg said, “has already demonstrated, although it is not yet done, that there were clear improper political influence in the decisions being made by a Republican administration to fire Republican U.S. attorneys.”
Mincberg said Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. has indicated he is going to reconsider the possibility of prosecuting Bradley Scholzman, former acting assistant attorney general of the Civil Rights Division, for alleged perjury stemming from his testimony on the Hill before the Senate committee investigating the U.S. attorney firings. Schlozman told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he did not consider political affiliation or ideology in department hiring. In January, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia formally declined to prosecute Scholzman.
Mincberg said the new leadership at the Justice Department has “turned the page on” the politicization of career hires at the department.
“There’s no question that from the perspective of Capitol Hill the problems and abuses in the Justice Department have been quite real, quite serious, and we are hoping very much that a new day has dawned that we will see even further progress than we have seen so far in restoring justice to the name of the Department of Justice,” Mincberg said.