Thursday, March 29, 2007

Some quick notes about Sampson's testimony

I have been watching some of the testimony of Kyle Sampson, and I wanted to note some things that really surprised me.

File? We don't need no stinking file!

In response to questioning from Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island), Sampson conceded that he was in charge of the program to review and replace USAs, and then Whitehouse asked Sampson whether he maintained a file on this project. Sampson said "no." He only had a "drop file" in the bottom right hand drawer of his desk, and he did not keep or maintain a formal file for the project, and to his knowledge no one at DoJ did. That is absolutely shocking. Sampson also testified that this project had been going on for about two years. And there was no formal file? If Sampson is telling the truth, this shows that the process was haphazard and likely based solely on political considerations.

And who knows if he is telling the truth? If there was a formal file, it would certainly be subject to disclosure (per the House Judiciary Committee's requests), and I'm guessing that the Bush administration would do everything possible to keep from turning over that file. Just look at how the document dump has proceeded and what the Bush administration has said about that (and by the way, there was another dump yesterday).

Sampson's experience

Whitehouse also questioned Sampson about his experience. It turns out that Sampson has tried one--and only one--criminal case. When asked if he had tried any civil cases, Sampson responded that he was an associate at a firm in Salt Lake City and sat as second chair (meaning he was not the lead lawyer) on some civil trials. Let me tell ya, folks, that is very little experience in general, and is damn sure woefully little experience for someone who was in charge of determining whether USAs should be fired.

Let me try to put the previous sentence in perspective. The position of U.S. Attorney is extraordinarily demanding and difficult. The administrative and political demands alone are unlike any other job in the lawyer world. There is no way that someone who has tried only one criminal case and sat second chair for a few civil trials can have any idea what the job of USA fully entails, and that means there is no way someone with Sampson's level of experience should be in charge of evaluating the performance and future of USAs.

I'll have more on Sampson's experience in the next post.


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