New Info on the Ninth Purged U.S. Attorney as Gonzales Goes Before Congress

I wrote yesterday that there is speculation on the blogosphere that the eight purged U.S. Attorneys were actually nine purged U.S. Attorneys. Today, the WaPo has all the major papers have confirmed it.

The Post runs down Todd Graves, former U.S. Attorney from Missouri and the center of yesterday’s speculation, and gets him on the record. He says that one of his bosses at the Dep’t of Justice made it clear in January 2006 that the DOJ wanted a change of leadership at Graves’ office to “give another person a chance.” According to Graves, the conversation “made clear to me the fact I was getting a push… I felt like I was no longer welcome in the department.”

The emergence of Graves is significant because it means the DOJ was forcing U.S. Attorneys out of their offices months earlier than previously suspected, and because it contradicts Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ testimony that the scandal was limited to the eight Attorneys already well-covered in the media. And the “give another person a chance” rational is exactly the same as the one given to other purged Attorneys.

As for the developing notion that voting rights are at the center of this storm, check out this paragraph:

Graves acknowledged that he had twice during the past few years clashed with Justice’s civil rights division over cases, including a federal lawsuit involving Missouri’s voter rolls that Graves said a Washington Justice official signed off on after he refused to do so. That official, Bradley J. Schlozman, was appointed as interim U.S. attorney to succeed Graves, remaining for a year until the Senate this spring confirmed John Wood for the job. Wood was a counselor to the deputy attorney general and is a son of [Republican Missouri Senator Kit] Bond’s first cousin, although the senator’s spokeswoman, Shana Marchio, said Bond did not recommend him for the job.

Alberto Gonzales is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee right now, where he will face questions about this topic and about the allegations of a stunning lack of diversity in the DOJ’s civil rights division.