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Subpeona to Alberto R. Gonzales concerning U.S. Attorney terminations

Guest John Conyers, Jr.

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Guest John Conyers, Jr.

U.S. House of Representatives

Committee on the Judiciary

Washington DC 20515-6216

One Hundred Tenth Congress



The Honorable Alberto R. Gonzales

Attorney General of the United States

U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Washington, DC 20530


Dear Mr. Attorney General:


Attached is a subpoena for documents and electronic information that we previously requested from the Department in connection with its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the recent termination of several United States Attorneys and related matters, which the Department has funished to us thus far only in redacted form, or has told the Subcommittee it was withholding. The subpoena is being used pursuant to authority granted by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law on March 21, 2007.


I appreciate your cooperation in voluntarily supplying a number of documents in response to the Subcommittee's request. As we have written and told you and your staff on a number of occasions, however, and reiterated most recently in our letters of March 22, March 28, and April 2, 2007, the incomplete response we have received thus far falls far short of what is needed for the Subcommittee and Committee to effectively exercise their oversight responsibilities in ascertaining the truth behind the very serious concerns that have been raised regarding this matter.


Our staffs have spent much time discussing our respective positions, without success. Since our initial request on March 8, we have been patient in allowing the Department to work through its concerns regarding the sensitive nature of some of these materials, and as more specifically set forth in our prior correspondance to you, we have sought to accommodate those concerns where it was possible to do so. In this regard, you will note that certain items about which you have raised specific concerns are explicitly excepted from the subpoena. Unfortunately, the Department has not indicated any meaningful willingness to find a way to meet our legitimate needs, and at this point further delay in receiving these materials will not serve any constructive purpose.


The Department is currently withholding significant information concerning U.S. Attorneys who were considered as replacement candidates. This information is clearly relevant to our inquiry into indications that U.S. Attorneys and candidates may have been evaluated based on improper considerations, including their willingness to make decisions as to prosecutions of public corruption cases based on whether it helped, or hurt, partisan political objectives.


The Department has indicated that it is also withholding altogether an unspecified number of documents "generated for the purpose of responding to the congressional (and media) inquiries" concerning the U.S. Attorney terminations, while providing some such information. This information also falls within the scope of our oversight authority and, among other things, could shed light on whether Department officials may have attempted to obstruct our primary investigation or misled Congress.


In order to better ensure that we can conduct a thorough and fair review, I am asking, as I did in my most recent letter to Assistant Attorney General Hertling, for complete electronic information, including embedded data and metadata, responsive to our previous requests. This will include all document and data file productions, whether from word processing, spreadsheet, e-mail, or instant messaging applications, or from other electronic data repositories, all in native file format so that the metadata accompanies each electronic document or data file. This will give the Subcommittee access to any information that may be obscured in the printed documents previously provided to us.


Recent developments, including the apparent inconsistencies between your statements and the testimony of your former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, declarations that your former senior counsel and White House liason, Monica Goodling, intends to invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incriminations rather than answer the Subcommittee's questions, and a series of recent resignations by senior officials at the Department, including Mr. Sampson and Ms. Goodling, have only increased my conviction that the Subcommittee must have all potentially relevant information that it has requested without further delay.


Under these circumstances, you must understand why we cannot accept the Department's unilateral judgement as to how much of this information it needs to disclose, or its unilateral judgement as to whether limited viewing of certain information, on Department premises and under Department supervison, and with no copying or note-taking permitted, is sufficient to permit effective and efficient review.


I look forward to your timely compliance so that we can proceed with getting to the truth regarding these mattters, as a necessary step toward restoring public trust in the integrity of federal law enforcement.




John Conyers, Jr.


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