Sampson Tries to Convert Yang, and then He Tries to Oust Her

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while. But now that Adam Cohen has revealed more details about Harriet Miers’ close attention to the departure of Debra Wong Yang, I’m going to do it now–mostly from memory (all my USA Purge documents are on my computer at home, and though this thread is on TPM, it doesn’t include the whole thread). Cohen reports that Miers was asking about ousting Yang "as late as mid-September," just one month before she resigned.

Ms. Yang was investigating Jerry Lewis, who was chairman of thepowerful House Appropriations Committee. Ms. Lam and most of the otherpurged prosecutors were fired on Dec. 7. Ms. Yang, in a fortuitouslytimed exit, resigned in mid-October.

Ms. Yang says she left forpersonal reasons, but there is growing evidence that the White Housewas intent on removing her. Kyle Sampson, the Justice Department staffmember in charge of the firings, told investigators last month instill-secret testimony that Harriet Miers, the White House counsel atthe time, had asked him more than once about Ms. Yang. He testified,according to Congressional sources, that as late as mid-September, Ms.Miers wanted to know whether Ms. Yang could be made to resign. Mr.Sampson reportedly recalled that Ms. Miers was focused on just twoUnited States attorneys: Ms. Yang and Bud Cummins, the Arkansasprosecutor who was later fired to make room for Tim Griffin, aRepublican political operative and Karl Rove protégé.

Given that timing, folks should look more closely at an August 9, 2006 email thread between Sampson and Yang. The email starts with something I’m very familiar with from having worked in a Mormon company in UT for two years–a half joking attempt to convert Yang (it was bad enough in UT, but in a federal government job? I’m sure this violated some laws). It appears that Sampson had told Yang something that often surprises those unfamiliar with Mormons–that a huge number of Samoans and Tongans are Mormons. Her reference to that leads Sampson to say he’ll send some missionaries over to her house (Yang turned what may have been an uncomfortable conversation into a joke, asking for attractive missionaries, ones who were good skiiers).

Aside from the overt religious content, the rest of the conversation relates to John McKay’s candidacy for a judgeship and another USA’s candidacy to serve as acting director of BATF. Yang appears to be very much an insider here, particularly with her reference to the Federalist Society as a qualification. And then there’s this one line:

PS: will call some corp folks regarding myself later this month and will share other info.

In the context of the two other discussions about moving USAs around internally, this reference seems to be a clear reference to her own job search. She and Sampson were discussing her departure, well before she had actually started to search. I’d say there’s nothing nefarious about it, but for two things. First, it has the same tone of informing DOJ as to the schedule. And then you throw in the fact that Miers was already asking Sampson about getting rid of Yang, and it seems likely that her warned her she needed to leave.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this–but this certainly seems to be evidence that Yang kept Sampson apprised of her job search even as Harriet hassled him to get rid of her.

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