A I didn’t hope one way or the other. I simply related
what they said and that there wasn’t more that could be done.
Q Did you ever raise with the Justice Department a desire to vindicate or clarify an investigation regarding a Democrat who is the subject of a DOJ leak?
A I don’t recall that fact situation coming up, where a defendant — or a Democrat was at issue.
Q Do you think it is appropriate for a White House political official like Mr. Jennings, through you or otherwise, to press the Department of Justice to make statements about pending investigations for political advantage?
A That is a very charged question. And what I reported in my e-mail was, I thought, very appropriate, which was to ask was there any explanation for why this sort of thing happens, or how do you protect someone who is being unduly hurt, if there were away? And the answer was, there is nothing we can do about it.
Q Mr. Renzi was under investigation around the time of the election. Wouldn’t it have benefited him if the Department of Justice made a statement along the lines you were inquiring, that people should not read anything into the fact that he was being investigated?
A I don’t think that is a fair characterization, with all due respect, of what I reported back to Mr. Jennings of what I had discussed with Mr. McNulty. And my recollection of it is we did what we should do with inquiries about what is appropriate and what is not. We took it
to the Department of Justice. And they responded basically that this sort of thing happens and there is a reason why it happens and there is not much that can be done about it.
Q But certainly for an elected official around election time that is under investigation, it would be beneficial if the Department of Justice made a clarifying statement, wouldn’t it?
A Again, if there wasn’t an investigation — I just don’t know how I can comment on anything other than what I ask and what the answer was.
Q Well, let me just ask you about the general proposition. Would it be helpful to an elected official under investigation around the time of an election for the Department of Justice to come out with a statement saying that people should not read anything into the fact that the person was under investigation? Wouldn’t that be politically useful for that elected official?
A Well, I don’t believe that is what is being referred to here, unless I am misreading it.
Q Were you aware of the fact that, after your phone call on October 24th, somebody at the Department of Justice did, in fact, state that there were inaccuracies in the media reports on the subject of the investigation?
A I don’t recall that.
Q Can you take a look at Document 33? This is an article in The Arizona Republic dated October 26, 2006, “Inquiry on Renzi: Real Deal or Campaign Trickery?” is the title.
If you will look at, sort of, the middle of that first page, the paragraph reads, “A Justice Department official in Washington, D.C., confirmed a preliminary inquiry of allegations about Renzi. The official also cautioned Wednesday that initial media reports
contained significant inaccuracies. Officials said the Justice Department contacted at least two newspapers Wednesday about ‘chunks of stuff in their stories that’s wrong?’”
Were you aware that the Department of Justice contacted at least two newspapers that day to let them know that chunks of their stories were wrong?
A I don’t recall that I was aware of that.
Q Wouldn’t that violate the very policy that Deputy Attorney General McNulty told you about?
A What Deputy Attorney General McNulty indicated was that they would not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.
Q So that if a Justice Department official in Washington confirmed the preliminary inquiry of allegations and Justice Department officials contact at least two newspapers to tell them chunks of their stories is wrong, that would have violated policy that the Deputy Attorney General told you about, right?
A It appears so, if that happened.
Q If you look at the second page, I think it is about the sixth or seventh paragraph, beginning with the word “however.” It says, “However, the official said” — this is referring to a Federal official — “the official said it is unusual for the Department to publicly acknowledge concerns about the accuracy of media reports. ‘Be careful,’ the official said, ‘I can confirm to you a very early investigation, but I want to caution you not to chop this guy’s [Renzi’s] head off.” Those kind of statements coming from a Department of Justice
official would violate the Department’s policy as Mr. McNulty described it, wouldn’t they?