Late in the afternoon on Dec. 4, a deputy to Harriet E. Miers, then the White House counsel and one of President Bush’s most trusted aides, sent a two-line e-mail message to a top Justice Department aide. “We’re a go,” it said, approving a long-brewing plan to remove seven federal prosecutors considered weak or not team players.
In rating the prosecutors, Mr. Sampson factored in whether they “exhibited loyalty to the president and attorney general,” according to documents released by the Justice Department. In one e-mail message, Mr. Sampson questioned a colleague about the record of the federal prosecutor in San Diego, Carol C. Lam. Referring to the office of the deputy attorney general, Mr. Sampson wrote: “Has ODAG ever called Carol Lam and woodshedded her re immigration enforcement? Has anyone?” Ms. Lam was one of the seven fired prosecutors.
Maryland’s own Rep. Van Hollen explains the significance of the new sheriffs in town.
“What you have got is a White House that has become an accountability-free zone that is now facing the reality of checks and balances from Congress,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (Md.), a member of the House Democratic leadership. “You had a White House that was used to a rubber-stamp Congress for so long that they could get away with anything. This is the kind of stuff that in the past Congress would have put their head in the sand about.”