E-mails suggest Sen. Bond sought removal of U.S. Attorney Graves

Wednesday, August 12, 2009 | 11:25 a.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — Newly released White House e-mails indicate that Missouri Sen. Kit Bond played a role in the 2006 removal of U.S. Attorney Todd Graves, something for which Bond has long denied any personal involvement.

The reference to Bond is included in thousands of pages of documents made public Tuesday by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, which investigated the White House's role in the firing of nine federal prosecutors during President George W. Bush's administration.

A previous Justice Department investigation concluded in September 2008 that Graves likely was forced out as attorney for the Western District of Missouri because of opposition from Bond's office. That report said Bond's legal counsel had asked the White House at least twice in 2005 to remove Graves because of political friction between Bond's staff and that of Graves' brother, Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo.

Bond said at the time that he had no knowledge of his staff's action and did not approve of it.

Among the documents released Tuesday is a Dec. 21, 2005, e-mail to White House legal counsel Harriet Miers from aide Richard Klingler that discusses Graves' potential ouster in connection with Bond's apparent desire to create another Missouri-based judgeship on the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We can indicate that we have heard and will work to satisfy Sen. Bond's request regarding a replacement for the U.S. attorney in the W.D. Missouri," Klingler wrote to Miers, adding that White House political adviser Karl Rove also was "fine with the replacement."

Other documents released Tuesday show Rove also played a central role in the ouster of a U.S. attorney in New Mexico.

The Klingler e-mail says Bond's office can "be told that he will be invited to suggest names for a replacement in the relatively near future." It concludes by asking whether Klingler should communicate the message to Bond's staff or whether Miers wants to tell Bond.

Miers responded that she would leave it up to Klingler "until and if you feel I should speak with the senator."

Bond spokesman Shana Marchio denied Tuesday that Bond was directly involved in a request to replace Graves.

"Senator 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 written statement.

Graves was among several U.S. attorneys who Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, suggested for removal on a list he sent to Miers on Jan. 9, 2006. Graves has said he was "stunned and shocked" when he subsequently got a call asking him to resign, but he complied and stepped down in March 2006.

Bond announced in January that he would not seek re-election to a fifth term in 2010.

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