Huffpost Politics

Bush Rejected Ashcroft's DOJ Picks In Favor Of Torture-Legalizing Loyalist

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Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft offered the White House a list of five candidates to lead the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel in early 2003, but top administration officials summarily rejected them in favor of installing a loyalist who would provide the legal footing needed to continue coercive interrogation techniques and broadly interpret executive power, according to two former administration officials.

In an angry phone call hours after Ashcroft's list reached the White House, President Bush's chief of staff, Andrew H. Card Jr., quickly dismissed the candidates, all Republican lawyers with impeccable credentials, the sources said. He and White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales insisted that Ashcroft promote John Yoo, a onetime OLC deputy who had worked closely with Gonzales and vice presidential adviser David S. Addington to draft memos supporting a controversial warrantless wiretapping plan and detainee questioning techniques.

Ashcroft's refusal created a tense standoff and was the only time in the attorney general's tenure that Bush was called upon to resolve a personnel dispute, the sources said.

Read the whole story at Washington Post