Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was briefed regularly over two years on the firings of federal prosecutors, his former top aide said Thursday, disputing Gonzales' claims he was not closely involved with the dismissals.
The testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by Kyle Sampson, the attorney general's former chief of staff, newly undercut Gonzales' already shaky credibility.
Gonzales and former White House counsel Harriet Miers made the final decision on whether to fire the U.S. attorneys last year, said Kyle Sampson, the attorney general's former chief of staff.
"I don't think the attorney general's statement that he was not involved in any discussions of U.S. attorney removals was accurate," Sampson told the committee as it inquired into whether the dismissals were politically motivated.
"I remember discussing with him this process of asking certain U.S. attorneys to resign," Sampson said.
Sampson's testimony for the first time put Gonzales at the heart of the firings amid ever-changing Justice Department accounts of how they were planned.
Gonzales has said repeatedly that he was not closely involved in the firings and largely depended on Sampson to orchestrate them.
Sampson resigned March 12. A day later, Gonzales said he "never saw documents. We never had a discussion about where things stood" in the firings.
The White House stepped back from defending Gonzales even before Sampson finished testifying.
For a day, perhaps a week, Gonzo is dead Attorney General walking, but his exit is no longer in doubt. The interesting question now is whether he can be bought off with a Medal of Freedom, or if he can be flipped. But if you insist on a prediction, I would take something between 5:00 PM eastern on Friday and 6:00PM Sunday. But he is this year's "cancer on the Presidency"-- the longer he stays, the worse the problem will get.
Gonzo turning state's evidence -- that would be a sight to see.