Documents: Missouri's Bond pushed for firing U.S. attorney in K.C.

Kansas City StarAugust 12, 2009 

Documents show Sen. Kit Bond was closely involved in the 2006 ouster of U.S. Attorney Todd Graves, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee said Tuesday.

Among the documents are e-mails that show for the first time that the Bush White House was fully aware of pressure from Bond’s office to remove Graves and did not oppose replacing him.

The documents could become part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the firings of Graves and eight other U.S. attorneys by the Bush administration.

“White House officials were deeply involved in the U.S. attorney firings and the administration made a concerted effort to hide that fact from the American people,” Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, said in a news release.

Conyers’ statement also said that “Kansas City U.S. Attorney Todd Graves was removed as part of a White House-brokered deal with U.S. Sen. Kit Bond.”

Bond, a Missouri Republican who has repeatedly denied any direct role in Graves’ ouster, would not comment on any of the documents. But spokeswoman Shana Marchio repeated the senator’s assertion that he was not directly involved in Graves’ firing.

“Sen. Bond did not know or approve his former staffer’s actions, so obviously he didn’t make a deal to have someone dismissed that he didn’t want fired in the first place,” Marchio said in a news release.

One of the e-mails, dated Dec. 21, 2005, states that the White House has “heard and will work to satisfy Sen. Bond’s request regarding a replacement for the U.S. Attorney in the W.D. (Western District) of Missouri.”

Bond has previously acknowledged that his staff was involved in the effort to remove Graves from office because of a political dispute with Graves’ brother, Sam, a Republican who represents northwest Missouri and part of the Kansas City area in the U.S. House.

But the December e-mail and testimony from former White House adviser Karl Rove suggest for the first time that Bond himself held up a federal appeals court appointment until the administration agreed to replace Todd Graves and work on finding a Missourian for the court.

“I continue to take the senator at his word,” Todd Graves said Tuesday in response to Bond’s denial, “but I wonder how (his staff) can continue to keep a straight face when they say this stuff. When does the giggling and belly laughing break out?”

Todd Graves, a Republican, announced his retirement as U.S. attorney in March 2006. At the time he said he was quitting to pursue other opportunities, but he has since acknowledged that he was “pushed” from office.

Tuesday’s disclosures were among 5,400 pages of documents released by the Judiciary Committee, which has been investigating the role of the Bush White House and Justice Department in the removal of the nine U.S. attorneys.

The documents include the testimony of Rove about the removal of Todd Graves and his replacement by interim U.S. Attorney Bradley Schlozman, who left the office in 2007.

Rove told the committee that Todd Graves’ removal was not related to his alleged reluctance to pursue voter fraud charges in the Kansas City area in 2004 or, potentially, in 2006.

Rove told the committee that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if there were allegations of voter fraud involving the community group ACORN in Kansas City but that he had no direct knowledge of any problems, and that those issues were not related to Todd Graves’ removal.

Read the full story at KansasCity.com.

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