Sen. Chuck Schumer's behavior during the voluntary testimony of former Attorney General Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson, say Republican Judiciary Committee staffers, confirmed rumors swirling around the committee and the Department of Justice that Schumer was coordinating with the staff of Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty.
"We've heard that Schumer and McNulty have a side deal in all of this," says a current, senior Department of Justice official. "And given the way Schumer attempted to set up Sampson it's now clear something is going on. McNulty's folks should have to answer for this. Why the White House is just letting it happen is beyond us."
At one point, Schumer asked Sampson to confirm that McNulty had been left out of the loop on the forced resignations of eight U.S. Attorneys, a patently absurd question, given that DOJ emails and time stamps confirmed that McNulty was clearly in the loop on all firings, as were his chief of staff and a key aide, David Margolis.
Just how deeply involved McNulty's team may be in undercutting Sampson and his former boss is unclear, but consider this: On Wednesday afternoon, Sampson's written testimony was submitted to the Judiciary Committee. Ten minutes after Sampson's written testimony arrived and was filed by the Democrat majority staff, an unexpected pile of new emails and documents was released by the Department of Justice that further embarrassed Sampson and Gonzales, and created the impression that perhaps White House senior adviser Karl Rove had been more deeply involved in the proceedings than he actually was.
"It was clearly orchestrated. As soon as the testimony showed up, the leak took place," says a GOP Judiciary staffer. "It was way too convenient."