Guest Blogged by BRAD BLOG's D.C. Correspondent Margie Burns
A quick post following up on that Senate Judiciary hearing on Tuesday with witnesses Schlozman and Graves. While I attended the hearing, not many Senators did. While at least half of the Democratic Senators on the committee showed up, no Republican Senators bothered to get there at all during the entire session. It seemed worthwhile to see if I could find out why.
The hearing, which has already been posted about by Brad (here and with a detailed follow up here), was headlined “Preserving Prosecutorial Independence: Is the Department of Justice Politicizing the Hiring and Firing of U.S. Attorneys? --- Part V." The matter under advisement was Missouri – easily the most torqued state in the union, elections-wise.
Witnesses: Bradley J. Schlozman, Associate Counsel to the Director, Executive Office for United States Attorneys, and former Interim U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, among other governmental offices he has held; and Todd Graves, former U.S. Attorney, Western District of Missouri before he got canned by the Bush administration (that appointed him in the first place).
As Brad has already blogged about the hearing and has posted video that adequately demonstrates some of the key witness’s peculiarities; no belaboring needed. Briefly, Graves – the USA yanked from his job, ostensibly to make room for someone else and then criticized in Monica Goodling’s sworn testimony – came off generally sounding more capable, and credible, than Mr. Schlozman. Brad Schlozman has a disconcerting way of speaking that makes it sound as though he honestly had, and has, no conception whatsoever that he could have been doing anything wrong by – for example – indicting members of the political opposition just a few days before a national election when the US Attorneys’ manual says don’t do that.
Perhaps all of the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee felt they knew what Schlozman would say, and didn't feel it necessary even to show up to float softballs to him in support of their home team, because none of them attended the hearing. This is a bit unusual. While the GOP quite often boycotts any hearing it wishes to, usually to quell public discovery, it generally designates one senatorial Republican to sit in, to keep an eye on things and sometimes to bring up extraneous matters. GOP SOP.
But Tuesday's hearing on Missouri elections fraud and DoJ Purge Gate issues had no GOP senators attending from start to finish. This was the first time that had happened to my knowledge during this series of hearings. So I telephoned the offices of the 9 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee, to ask why they didn’t attend and to see what, if any, comments I could get from them...
Press aides/communications directors for 4 of the 9 were not available and did not return my calls or voice mail messages. The four I didn't hear back from in any way were Sam Brownback (KS), Lindsey Graham (SC), Charles Grassley (IA), and Jon Kyl (AZ). Of those, Kyl was on the Senate floor that day, debating the immigration legislation. The others all had a variety of excuses and/or non-comments for not attending.
The ranking member (top Minority party member) of Judiciary, Arlen Specter (PA), was also in town and on the immigration front. His staffer explained immediately, “Yes, we’ve received a couple of calls on this [Judiciary hearing]. Specter is the Republican manager on the immigration bill, and yesterday he was on the floor the entire afternoon, dealing with some amendments. So he was not able to attend the hearing due to a scheduling conflict.”
John Cornyn’s (TX) press person very courteously took my questions but never got back to me with any answers; Cornyn was also working on immigration and proposing amendments that day.
The remaining three were Tom Coburn (OK), whose office claimed that he had a conflict on his schedule; the office of Orrin Hatch (UT) says they had a competing hearing – a closed session of the Intelligence Committee, of which he is a member; and the office of Jeff Sessions (AL) said that he was attending a funeral.
Whether or not any of those are good and sufficient reasons for missing such a notable hearing --- or even if those reasons are actually true --- I'll leave to you to decide. Of note, that was also the day that sentencing had been handed out in the perjury and obstruction of justice case of Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby. Perhaps the above-mentioned senators weren't eager to make themselves available to press for comments on that matter that day.
Either way, that's what I was able to learn. For the historical record.