Tim Griffin

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J. Timothy (Tim) Griffin, a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas who resigned effective June 1, 2007 [1], was named in December 2006 to the position by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales after the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, which gave the U.S. Department of Justice "authority to install interim U.S. Attorneys without congressional approval." [2][3][4][5]

Griffin "said he was leaving to pursue work in the private sector. His name has cropped up in media reports in connection with a potential role on the presidential campaign of Republican Fred Thompson." [6]

Griffin is a former protégé of Karl Rove, Republican political strategist and top adviser to President George W. Bush. Griffin was "formerly research director of the Republican National Committee. In 2004, BBC News published a report showing that Griffin led a 'caging' scheme to suppress the votes of African-American servicemembers in Florida."[7]

"Loyal Bushie"

"If you want to know what the career path of a 'loyal Bushie' looks like, let me introduce you to J. Timothy Griffin, a Karl Rove protégé who was slipped into the post of U.S. Attorney in Little Rock, Arkansas, and now is at the center of the controversy over whether the Bush administration has sought to politicize federal prosecutions," Richard L. Fricker wrote March 28, 2007, in Consortiumnews.

GOP "Oppo Man"

"Griffin works the oppo beat for the Republican National Committee, but he's not some shadowy operative whispering shady tips over the phone," Howard Kurtz wrote April 16, 2003. "As the man in charge of investigating the opposition, the research chief blasts his findings to the entire press corps in mass e-mailings, then sits back and watches the negative stuff spread like a computer virus. When Joe Lieberman, John Kerry, John Edwards and Howard Dean announced their presidential candidacies, Griffin and his staff flooded media in-boxes with derogatory information."

2006 Arkansas AUSA Nomination

Pre-Nomination Paperwork

Although Griffin was on a one-year military leave from the White House, mobilized on active duty beginning in September 2005 [8], a June 13, 2006, email from Natalie Voris, (USAEO-U.S. Attorney Equal Opportunity), cited by Monica Goodling, shows (page 41) that plans to nominate Griffin to a new Justice Department post upon his return from duty in Iraq were well underway:

"As requested, attached is the pre-nomination paperwork for John Timothy Griffin ... I have included a past WH Questionnaire to provide you with additional information about Mr. Griffin."

The House Committee on the Judiciary copy of the email can be found here.

Prosecutorial Experience

On June 14, 2006, Goodling received Griffin's "resume and military bio" (pages 43-47) from S. Courtwright, which states his "Trial Counsel" experience included prosecution of "Army criminal cases at courts-martial and federal criminal cases as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (SAUSA), Western District of Kentucky and Middle District of Tennessee."

Griffin's resume also stated that, between March 2001 and June 2002, as a SAUSA, Eastern District of Arkansas, he had "Prosecuted federal firearm and drug cases."

On the March 20, 2007, edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees, in a video clip, Mike Allen of The Politico was heard saying of Griffin: "Tim Griffin is very legally qualified, including serving as an Army lawyer in Iraq. In addition to that, he has his political life. He's part of this tight-knit group here in Washington that helped get the president elected twice."

Richard L. Fricker wrote April 18, 2007, for Consortiumnews that the Bush administration "fed Republican senators misleading talking points that hailed the prosecutorial experience of interim Little Rock U.S. Attorney J. Timothy Griffin, although the protégé of White House political adviser Karl Rove appears never to have actually tried a criminal case."

See January 17, 2007, email "Talking Points & Resume for Tim Griffin" cover sheet sent by Monica Goodling to Rebecca Seidel, Richard Hertling, and Kyle Sampson. Note: no attachments.

On August 30, 2006, in an article entitled "Tim Griffin possible US Attorney?" posted on The Truth In Arkansas Politics Blogspot, an unnamed contributor wrote:

"Here is a brief history on Griffin. Tim is in his 10th year as an officer in the U.S. Army Reserve, Judge Advocate General's (JAG) Corps and holds the rank of Major. In September 2005, Tim was mobilized to active duty to serve as an Army prosecutor at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the home of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). At Fort Campbell, he prosecuted 40 criminal cases. One of those cases, drew national interest after a soldier attempted to murder his platoon sergeant and fired upon his unit’s early morning formation. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his crime."

However, Fricker writes that "Army officials say Ft. Campbell’s records show Griffin only serving as assistant trial counsel on three cases, none of which went to trial."

Griffin v. Cummins

On March 28, 2007, Mary Lu Carnevale wrote in the Wall Street Journal's Washington Wire: "Today’s email release from the Justice Department shows that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid along with Sens. Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin and Patty Murray zeroed in on the Griffin case in a Feb. 8 [2007] letter to embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales ... Among the questions: 'Why was Bud Cummins (bio) told to resign in June of 2006, when the other dismissed officials were told in December of 2006? Was the reason to give the replacement, Tim Griffin, a chance to become ensconced at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arkansas before making the appointment?'," Carnevale wrote.

The answer comes from the preceding: Although Griffin was still on active duty, serving in Iraq, he was already in play for the Arkansas post. This is clearly indicated by both the June 14, 2006, email cited above and the anonymously posted August 30, 2006, speculative blog entry at The Truth In Arkansas Politics.

On the Fast Track to Arkansas

June and July 2006 emails between Griffin and Goodling clearly show how Griffin's pre-nomination process was fast-tracked—or, as Griffin put it in a July 5, 2006, email (page 10) to Goodling, "movement on my front."

Griffin also wrote (page 10) "i havent said a thing to Bud Cummins." Goodling's response (page 11) was to tell Griffin "WHCO also asked me to remind you to continue to keep this close hold." "WHCO" was the White House Counsel's Office, which at the time was Harriet E. Miers.

Goodling emailed (page 18) Kyle Sampson on August 8, 2006, regarding a U.S. Senate confirmation problem and where to put Griffin before "we install him in Arkansas."

On August 24, 2006, Sean Murphy sent an email to Goodling and others which included the text (page 20) of an Arkansas Times article about Cummins' departure "in the next few 'weeks or months', but almost certainly by the end of the year" and which speculated on Cummins' successor. Griffin's name was discussed by the Times, citing "informed sources".

The article states that Griffin's "political work would likely get more attention - and Democratic opposition - in the Senate confirmation process" and that he would "have to endure some questioning about his role in massive Republican projects in Florida and elsewhere by which Republicans challenged tens of thousands of absentee votes. Coincidentally, many of those challenged votes were concentrated in black precincts."

On August 30, 2006, Goodling emailed (page 40) Scott Jennings et al. to inform them that the plan was to "bring Tim over to DOJ around Sept. 25, when he finishes at the Army ..." The plan (page 42) to appoint Griffin was well-timed, as he would complete active duty on September 25th, work a day at the White House, and then be appointed to the Justice Department on the 27th.

This was confirmed on September 8, 2006, when Sherry Mahoney, Justice Management Division, sent Goodling an email (page 43) stating that Griffin would "Work at WH on tues 26th and start at doj on wed 27th." Goodling responded (page 44) "Yes, one day here is enough."

On September 13, 2006, Goodling received an email (page 47) informing her that Griffin had been cleared by security for permanent status as "Counselor to the Assistant Attorney General DJES" with a salary of $142,900.

Apparently there was a question as to what Griffin's title "DJES" meant, as Goodling sent an email (page 48) September 13, 2006, in which she wrote "I have no idea what it stands for, but he's Counselor to the CRIM AAG technically, but will be detailed to the USAO in Arkansas after EOD'ing."

On September 13, 2006, Kyle Sampson emailed (page 53) Goodling a list he planned to send to Harriet Miers regarding the U.S. attorneys. Under section IV entitled "USA in the Process of Being Pushed Out" was "E.D. Ark. (Bud Cummins)."

Sampson also wrote (page 53) "I strongly recommend that, as a matter of policy, we utilize the new statutory provisions that authorize the AG to make USA appointments. ... By not going the PAS route, we can give far less deference to home-State Senators and thereby get (1) our preferred person appointed and (2) do it far faster and more efficiently, at less cost to the White House."

On September 27, 2006, Mahoney emailed (page 59) Goodling that Griffin was completing his paperwork "and advised us that he will be detailed immediately to a position in Arkansas."

On December 16, 2006, Aaron Sadler of the Arkansas News Bureau wrote that Griffin, a "former Republican political operative and top aide to President Bush was named late Friday [December 15, 2006] as interim U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas", while Congress was on recess. Cummins was to resign the following Wednesday, December 20, 2006.

Profiles

"In May 2006, Griffin was assigned to the 501st Special Troops Battalion (STB), 101st Airborne Division and sent to serve in Iraq. From May through August 2006, Griffin served as an Army JAG with the 101st Airborne Division in Mosul, Iraq, as a member of the 172d Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) Brigade Operational Law Team (BOLT)." [9]

Beginning in September 2005, Griffin was "on military leave from the White House where he served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director, Office of Political Affairs. As Special Assistant to the President, Griffin advised President George W. Bush and Vice-President Richard B. Cheney on political matters and organized and coordinated political support for the President’s agenda, including the nomination of Judge John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court." [10][11]

Previously, Griffin served from 2001-2002 "as an appointee at the U.S. Department of Justice where he was Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General, Michael Chertoff, the Criminal Division Chief. In the summer of 2001, AAG Chertoff granted [Griffin] a year detail as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock[, where he] prosecuted a variety of federal cases with an emphasis on firearm and drug cases. He also organized the Eastern District’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the Bush Administration's initiative to reduce firearm-related violence by promoting close cooperation between state and federal law enforcement, and served as the PSN coordinator." [12]

Griffin "served as Research Director and Deputy Communications Director for the Republican National Committee (RNC) during the 2004 presidential campaign and Deputy Research Director for the RNC during the 2000 presidential campaign. [Griffin] has also served as Senior Counsel to the Government Reform Committee, U.S. House of Representatives; Associate Independent Counsel, In Re: Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Henry Cisneros; and as an associate attorney with the New Orleans law firm of Jones, Walker." [13]

Howard Kurtz wrote in April 2003 that Griffin served "an earlier stint as deputy to Barbara Comstock, now the Justice Department's spokeswoman."

Griffin is "a member of the Arkansas and Louisiana bars. He is a cum laude graduate of both Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, where he received his B.A., and Tulane Law School in New Orleans , Louisiana , where he received his J.D. He also attended graduate school at Pembroke College, Oxford University, in Oxford, England." [14]

Timeline

The following comes from a profile provided by Tim Griffin in April 2006 for The Pembrokian (Pembroke College). [15]

  • Grew up in Magnolia, Arkansas, and attended Hendrix College, "a small liberal arts school near Little Rock, for my undergraduate studies."
  • After two years at Hendrix, attended third year at Oxford University.
  • Returned to Hendrix for final year of undergraduate studies in 1989.
  • Applied for Rhodes Scholarship to return to Oxford, but did not receive it.
  • Autumn 1990 began one year of graduate studies at Pembroke College at Oxford.
  • 1991-1994 attended Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans.
  • In 1994 passed Lousiana and Arkansas law exams.
  • Moved to Washington, D.C., in 1995.
  • Joined staff of Independent Counsel David M. Barrett as an Associate Independent Counsel in September 1995.
  • In January 1997 joined staff of House Government Reform Committee as Senior Investigative Counsel: "focused primarily on the financial investigation of foreign individuals and their contributions to the DNC."
  • In 1999 joined Republican National Committee as Deputy Research Director for the 2000 presidential campaign and served as primary research resource for Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign.
  • Served as legal advisor to the Bush/Cheney Recount Team.
  • In March 2001, "accepted a political appointment at the Department of Justice as Special Assistant to the Attorney General Michael Chertoff, the Criminal Division Chief."
  • Summer 2001 detailed by Chertoff as "federal prosecutor to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock."
  • June 2002 returned to Washington, D.C. "to begin research for 2004 presidential campaign." Joined RNC staff as Research Director and Deputy Communications Director.
  • April 2005 began serving as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director, Office of Political Affairs at the White House. Highlight: "organising and coordinating political support for the confirmation of Judge John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court."
  • September 2005 mobilized to active duty in U.S. Army for one year as Captain.
  • April 2006: serving as an Army Prosecutor and legal advisor. Had served in JAG Corps for ten years but had not previously served on active duty. On military leave from White House until September 2006.

Regarding his post as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas:

  • Sworn in December 20, 2006. [16]
  • May 30, 2007, tendered resignation as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, effective June 1, 2007. [17]

Related SourceWatch Resources

External links

Emails: to/from/about Griffin

Profiles

Articles & Commentary about Tim Griffin