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December 4, 2008 11:28 AM

WaPo: U.S. Attorney Firing Inquiry Heating Up

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: A previous version of this post incorrectly referred to which legal fees the Justice Department is paying for former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The fees in question are connected to a separate civil matter.

The Washington Post reports that a federal prosecutor overseeing a Justice Department probe into whether nine U.S. attorneys were improperly dismissed, has been making waves with her investigation.

The lawyer leading the inquiry, Nora Dannehy, the acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut, was appointed by U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey in September.

Dannehy, the WaPo reports, has begun requesting documents from key officials, meeting with their defense lawyers, and dispatching subpoenas to learn more about events surrounding the purge of prosecutors who had run afoul of the Bush administration.

Possible witnesses such as former White House counsel Harriet Miers, now a litigation partner with Locke Lord Bissell & Liddell in Texas, have previously refused to cooperate with investigators.

Last year former U.S. AG Alberto Gonzales hired George Terwilliger III, a former deputy U.S. attorney general under President George H.W. Bush and the head of White & Case's white-collar defense practice, to represent him after questions arose about the accuracy of the former AG's congressional testimony. (In a separate civil suit accusing Gonzales and several other former Main Justice employees of politically biased hiring practices, the Justice Department is paying the former AG's legal fees.)

The WaPo reports that Gonzales's former chief of staff, current Hunton & Williams partner D. Kyle Sampson, has taken a leave of absence from the firm while Dannehy's investigation proceeds.

A Hunton spokeswoman told the newspaper that Sampson is on leave "pending admission to the D.C. bar."

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Please correct your story as it is plainly in error to report that the Justice Department is paying Judge Gonzales' legal fees in connection with the Inspector General inquiries. Those fees are a private responsibility. DOJ is reportedly paying fees at governement rates to another law firm in connection with a civil law suit in which Judge Gonzales has been sued in his individual capacity in connection with events in which he was involved, if at all, in his offical capacity.

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