Gonzales Gave WH Staff 12 Hours to Shred CIA Leak Documents

At the time [when Gonzales was given permission to wait 12 hours before sealing White House documents], the Justice Department was run by John Ashcroft, who eventually recused himself from the case under pressure from Democrats who complained about his ties to Rove.

This is huge:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Sunday that he notified White House chief of staff Andy Card after the Justice Department opened an investigation into who revealed a covert CIA officer’s identity, but waited 12 hours to tell anyone else in the executive mansion.

The White House did not immediately respond to questions Sunday about whether Card passed that information to top Bush aide Karl Rove or anyone else, giving them advance notice to prepare for the investigation.

Gonzales was White House counsel on Sept. 29, 2003, and got the first official word inside the White House when the Justice Department opened its inquiry… Gonzales said Justice Department lawyers notified him of the investigation around 8 p.m., and he got permission from them to wait until the following morning to direct the staff to preserve any materials related to the case.

“We were advised, `Go ahead and notify the staff early in the morning, that would be OK,'” Gonzales said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “And again, most of the staff had gone home. No one knew about the investigation.”

Gonzales said he immediately notified Card, then told President Bush the next morning before notifying the White House staff.

At the time, the Justice Department was run by John Ashcroft, who eventually recused himself from the case under pressure from Democrats who complained about his ties to Rove…

Democratic Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware said he doesn’t doubt Gonzales’ sincerity, but that his decision to notify only Card about the federal investigation “wasn’t the soundest of judgments.”

“The real question now is, ‘Who did the chief of staff speak to?'” Biden asked, speculating as to whether Card might have spoken to Rove or someone else.

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