A damaging report has been released in Washington, D.C., this morning over the conduct of senior members of the U.S. Department of Justice, specifically alleging that political motives ruled who would be appointed or re-appointed to serve as a U.S. Attorney.
Among the main targets of the investigation were former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson.
While not the cause or focus of the investigation, it was revealed today in the report that former Nashville U.S. Attorney Jim Vines was on the targeted list of those slated for a later round of removals from office. Vines resigned his position in September of 2006, heading back to D.C. to become a partner in the firm of King & Spalding.
Attempts to speak with Vines about the report were unsuccessful at the time of publication of this article.
According to a joint report released today by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility, Vines had been characterized by Sampson as "weak."
On page 26 of the report, e-mail exchanges between Sampson and Deputy Attorney General James Comey discussed Vines.
The document states, "In addition to the February 2005 discussion between Sampson and Comey discussed above, we found e-mail records indicating that Sampson broached the subject of removing certain U.S. Attorneys with Comey in August 2005, shortly before Comey's resignation.
"On August 11, 2005, Sampson sent Comey an e-mail requesting a brief meeting to 'get your assessment of our current crop of USAs.' In the e-mail, Sampson pointed out that U.S. Attorneys' 4-year terms would begin to expire in September, and expressed the view that 'there will be some sentiment to identify the 5-10 weak sisters, thank them for their four years of service, and give someone else the opportunity to serve.'
"According to an e-mail from Comey to two other Department officials the next day, Sampson asked him about Chiara, Wagoner, McKay, Sheldon Sperling, and James Vines. Comey's e-mail indicated that he agreed with Sampson that Vines was weak but had no strong views on the others, except McKay who, Comey told Sampson, had been 'great on my information sharing project.'"
To read a full copy of the report, click here.