Kyle Sampson, who recently resigned as chief of staff for Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon). CNN is reporting that Mr. Sampson is a key witness in the ongoing U.S. Attorneys firing scandal that continues to plague the Bush Administration. He testifies before Congress today.
Mr. Sampson, resigned on March 12, 2007 in an attempt to diffuse the controversy and take some of the heat off the Bush Administration. Mr. Sampson defended the firings, admitting that they were badly handled, but stressed they were not improper:
The decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys was “properly made but poorly explained,” a former top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will tell a Senate committee Thursday.
In a written statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Kyle Sampson says none of the prosecutors were sacked “for an improper reason,” such as to influence an ongoing investigation.
But he says the process — which has led to a firestorm on Capitol Hill and a standoff over the testimony of White House aides — was “badly mishandled.” (Read the full statement – PDF)
“The decisions to seek the resignations of a handful of U.S. attorneys were properly made, but poorly explained,” he states. “This is a benign rather than sinister story, and I know that some may be indisposed to accept it. But it is the truth as I observed and experienced it.”
Reporting on his Mormon roots, CNN noted that he is currently serving as Bishop in his northern Virgina ward, is married with three children, and is apparently a returned missionary and BYU graduate:
A married father of three young children, Sampson is a bishop at his Mormon church in northern Virginia and has served as counsel both on Capitol Hill and at the White House.
Friends and colleagues paint a portrait of Sampson as a deeply religious family man with a sense of humor who often remained cool and calm despite a Justice Department that Corallo said “devours people.” . . .
Sampson’s Mormon roots lead back to his birth in Utah. Later his parents moved to Tacoma, Washington, where he grew up.
Like many followers of his faith, Sampson served two years as a volunteer, helping Southeast Asian immigrants living in Minnesota. He returned to Utah to attend college at Brigham Young University in Provo, where he met his wife Noelle. The Sampsons have three children; a daughter, 11, and sons ages 7 and 5.
“Kyle, while he’s a man of great spirit, he’s not so rigid and dogmatic that he’s a zealot,” Nixon said. “On the other hand he’s extremely thoughtful and he’s an extremely spiritual person. He has great faith in a loving God and he is making his decisions based on that foundation.”
The question being asked is whether Sampson is taking the fall for the Attorney General. His Capitol Hill testimony should be interesting to follow. NPR has a piece here, which also touched briefly on his Mormon roots:
Sampson’s friends also describe him as devoted to his family and his faith. He holds a prominent position in the Mormon church as bishop of his ward.
Last year, Sampson tried to return to Utah where he grew up. He lobbied to be made U.S. attorney there. In the end, his former boss intervened. At Sen. Orrin Hatch’s request, President Bush nominated someone else for the job.
I wish Mr. Sampson well in his testimony, and look forward to hearing his explanation. Devyn S. over at Mormon Mentality has also posted on this.