By: E&P Staff
As each day passes, the phrase “shades of Watergate” appears more and more often in the press regarding the conflict surrounding the recent firing of eight U.S. attorneys. There was the hiring of former Nixon legal adviser Fred Fielding (he was once rumored to be Deep Throat) by President Bush, the selective release of documents, the threat to oppose subpoenas — and now something reminiscent of the famous “18 1/2 minute gap.”
Mike Allen wrote for The Politico, “In DOJ documents that were publicly posted by the House Judiciary Committee, there is a gap from mid-November to early December in e-mails and other memos, which was a critical period as the White House and Justice Department reviewed, then approved, which U.S. attorneys would be fired while also developing a political and communications strategy for countering any fallout from the firings.”
The blog Talking Points Memo, which has followed this scandal closest for the longest time, did the math and found out that the gap is 18 days, and promptly compared it to the “18 1/2 minute gap” from Watergate — when a key part of a Nixon tape suddenly went blank.
Nixon blamed it on his secretary Rose Mary Woods, while others suspected the president himself. The missing information was erased. That may not be true in the current conflict.
Asked about the gap today, Tony Snow, White House spokesman said, “I’ve been led to believe that there’s a good response for it, and I’m going to let you ask them (DOJ) because they’re going to have an answer.”
CNN, counting differently, later put the gap at 16 days. It also said a few scattered documents from that period were released but nothing important and so the mystery of the missing material remains.