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Sampson to Testify About Firing of Federal Attorneys

Sampson to Testify About Firing of Federal Attorneys

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Gene Kennedy Reporting A Utah native is taking the blame for how the firing of eight federal attorneys was handled.

BYU graduate Kyle Sampson worked for U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales but resigned after the scandal over the firings. Today he testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sampson says he thinks the firings were justified but says the aftermath was an "ugly, undignified spectacle." He blames his poor communication for that. So Sampson says basically this was a public relations failure.

He'll testify today, reading from a three-page statement. One of his comments will say, "What started as a good-faith attempt to carry out the department's management responsibilities and exercise the president's appointment authority has unfortunately resulted in confusion, misunderstanding, and embarrassment. This should have not happened."

Sampson's former boss, Attorney General Gonzales, says the prosecutors were fired solely for job performance. Sampson says the attorneys didn't share President Bush's priorities. Sampson adds, the distinction between political and performance-related reasons for removing the prosecutors is largely artificial.

Critics are concerned that some of the prosecutors were let go for going after Republicans.

While Sampson is taking the heat, the president's political advisor, Karl Rove, is not off the hook. The justice department is now admitting that Rove had a hand in the firings, something it denied just last month. That will definitely increase lawmakers' interest in Rove's role.

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