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(No, not THAT Samson.)

Sen. Leahy moving foward with Patriot Act discussion.  And now on to Sen. Schumer.

SEN. SCHUMER QUESTIONS:  You realize that if he were fired as USAtty, and that there was a general consensus that he couldn't continue as Special Prosecutor.  Sampson says that he doesn't know that for a fact.  (CHS says:  Despite what Schumer says, there are provisions for that to continue, but that's an argument for another day.)

Was Miers comfortable with you being in charge of the firing of USAs after you made that statement?  Sampson says "I don't know."  Schumer says that it makes him think that Sampson's judgment ought to have been called into question for this job.  Sampson says that he realized it was inappropriate immediately after he said it.

Schumer — did it occur to you that the same thought process that caused you to question the Fitzgerald suggestion might apply to the question of USAs such as Carol Lam, who were putting public corruption cases forward.  Sampson says no.  (Schumer going on the "public perception of trying to stop an investigation."  Sampson not getting where he's going on this.)

Now there is a bit of a dance on the Rove interest in Griffen being appointed and the DoJ letter that said he wasn't.  Sampson says he drafted the letter thinking that he wasn't sure that Rove was interested.  Says he circulated it widely to be certain that others thought it was accurate as well.  Schumer pointing out various inconsistencies between what Sampson just said and his own e-mails on this point.

Sampson says that he doesn't remember any conversations with Rove or any of the people who worked for or with him – he doesn't think it happened — whether Rove had anything to do with the suggestion that Fitzgerald be fired.  Schumer points out that that's not exactly a definite answer.  (CHS notes:  on my HDTV, it sure looks like Sampson's bald spot is getting quite pink as this line of questioning is going forward.)

SEN. HATCH QUESTIONS:  Vouching for how forthcoming that Sampson has been, and then saying that Lam being fired for prosecuting a political corruption case is just hooey.  Don't you think, Mr. Sampson?  Sampson says "to my knowledge, it did not."  (CHS notes:  well, that wasn't exactly definitive either, was it.)  Hatch then putting forward some smack Iglesias talking points forward, fromhis appearance on Meet The Press.  Was the Iglesias firing a "political hit?"  Sampson says "not to my knowledge…I don't remember anyone…uhhh…I don't remember anything of the sort."

Now they are discussing the political/performance criteria being an artificial distinction.  Sampson says they were singled out because there were questions about them raised, and some of those factors might be considered political.  Was Iglesias asked to resign because of performance?  Sampson says yes.  Hatch now walking through the GOP talking points of what the meaning of Performance Issues and Political are.  (CHS notes:  Hatch is wearing a particularly unattractive bright orange tie today with a bright blue and white striped shirt and gray suit.  I needed to say that for the record because on the new HDTV, it is particularly egregious.)

Hatch now vouching for the Goodling taking of the 5th as being appropriate and that no inference maybe drawn thereon.  (In response to the Whitehouse comments earlier.)  (CHS notes:  Hatch would be absolutely correct if he were talking about an accused, but Whitehouse may be correct with regard to just a witness who is not an accused.  It's kind of a fine argument line there, and the attorneys in the reading audience can haggle thereon.)

Hatch:  were these USAs fired for political reasons to thwart an investigation or prosecution?  Sampson says "to my knowledge, no."

Hatch:  Let's talk about the insertion of a Patriot Act provision.  Was your question about end-running the change in procedure — DoJ documents say it began at least as early as 12/03.  DoJ did not ask for this change in the Patriot Act be made until 2005.   Was your initiative to change Patriot Act motivated in any way by the desire to change USAs?  Sampson talks about a district in South Dakota, and some issue with an appointment there.  Sampson says that was the impetus to seek the change.

Now back to Sen. Feinstein.  And, my apologies gang, but I have to go and pick up The Peanut from preschool shortly.  If someone can keep this up in the comments as the hearing is ongoing, I'd really appreciate it.  Thanks much!