- The EARS Evaluation of Chiara’s Office
- Chiara’s Status on the Removal Lists
- Reasons Proffered for Chiara’s Removal
- Chronology of Events Related to Chiara’s Removal
- Chiara’s Inclusion on the Removal Lists
- Factual Chronology Relating to Conflict in Western District of Michigan U.S. Attorney’s Office
- U.S. Attorney’s Office
- Senior Management Conflicts in Chiara’s Office
- Rumors and Allegations Regarding Relationship with AUSA and Favoritism
- Chiara’s friend is hired
- Rumors about their relationship
- Meyer Confronts Chiara About her Relationship with the AUSA
- Chiara Requests Assistance from EOUSA
- Additional Incidents
- The Relationship Rumors Spread
- Chiara’s Request for an OPR Investigation
- Chiara is Given Advance Notice of Her Removal
- Chiara’s Removal
- We also found that shortly before Chiara was informed that she would be removed, Margolis and other Department officials concluded that she exhibited poor judgment in another matter. An anonymous source had made allegations against Chiara’s former First Assistant, Phil Green, after he was nominated for another U.S. Attorney position, and OPR initiated an investigation into these allegations. However, Chiara repeatedly insisted that the Department investigate the source of the anonymous allegations, who Chiara believed to be Lloyd Meyer. Margolis said he reached the conclusion that Chiara was more interested in punishing the anonymous source than in finding out the truth of the allegations, and he believed that Chiara’s actions in this matter raised further concerns about her judgment.
This chapter examines the removal of Margaret Chiara, the former United States Attorney for the Western District of Michigan.
Chiara received her law degree in 1979 from the Rutgers University School of Law. She worked at a private law firm from 1979 to 1982, and then as an assistant prosecutor in Cass County, Michigan, from 1982 to 1987. From 1988 to 1996, Chiara served two terms as the elected Prosecuting Attorney for Cass County. From 1993 to 1994, she also served as the President of the Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of Michigan.
Upon completion of her second term as Cass County Prosecuting Attorney in 1996, Chiara was appointed Administrator of the Michigan Trial Court Assessment Commission, which evaluated and made recommendations for changes in the operation and funding of state trial courts. In 1999, Chiara began work as the Policy and Planning Director for the Michigan Supreme Court.
On September 4, 2001, Chiara was nominated by the President to be the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan. She was confirmed by the Senate on October 23, 2001.
During her tenure as U.S. Attorney, Chiara served on three subcommittees of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee (AGAC): Native American Issues, Management and Budget, and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices Outreach.
Chiara was called by the Director of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys, Michael Battle, on December 7, 2006, along with the other U.S. Attorneys, and told to resign. She announced her resignation on February 23, 2007, and left office on March 16, 2007.
Chiara’s office underwent one EARS evaluation during her tenure as U.S. Attorney. The EARS team’s evaluation was conducted in July 2004. The EARS report stated that “The United States Attorney was a well regarded, hard-working, and capable leader who had the respect and confidence of the judiciary, the agencies, and USAO personnel.” However, notwithstanding this positive comment regarding Chiara, the EARS report noted “discontent within the Criminal Division” in the U.S. Attorney’s Office based on workload and productivity differences among Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSA). Additionally, the report commented that “a substantial number of AUSAs perceived that the actual process by which cash and time-off awards were determined was not equitable.” A draft report dated September 3, 2004, also commented that “[m]any AUSAs reported to evaluators [concerns about] the number and size of awards given to other AUSAs during the last 12 months. This information was found by evaluators to be generally inaccurate.”
On the first U.S. Attorney removal list, which Sampson e-mailed to White House Counsel Harriet Miers on March 2, 2005, Chiara was rated as “weak” and was 1 of 14 U.S. Attorneys whom Sampson recommended for removal. Chiara’s name appeared on every subsequent removal list.
As described in Chapter Three, in February 2007 when the Department began to prepare witnesses for their congressional testimony regarding the U.S. Attorney removals, Department of Justice White House Liaison Monica Goodling created a chart of reasons justifying the firings. The first draft of these reasons was reflected in Goodling’s two pages of handwritten notes. As to Chiara, Goodling wrote that “there was disarray in [her] office under her leadership . . . . [her office was] incredibly fractured . . . [she] lost [the] confidence of her subordinates and superiors.”
In the chart Goodling prepared, the reasons for Chiara’s removal similarly stated: “During USA’s tenure, the office has become fractured, morale has fallen, and the USA has lost the confidence of some career prosecutors. The problems here have required an on-site visit by management experts from our EOUSA to visit and mediate with members of the leadership team.”
On February 14, 2007, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty briefed members and staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the U.S. Attorney removals. According to notes of the closed briefing prepared by Office of Legislative Affairs official Nancy Scott-Finan who attended the session, and the talking points that McNulty used to prepare for the meeting, McNulty said at the meeting that one unidentified office (referring to Chiara’s office) had “serious morale issues” and there was a “loss of confidence” in her leadership.183
Chiara’s identity as the seventh U.S. Attorney contacted by Battle on December 7, 2006, and told to resign was not publicly revealed until late February 2007. As a result of the controversy surrounding the removal of other U.S. Attorneys, Michigan Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on February 13, 2007, asking whether either of Michigan’s U.S. Attorneys had been asked to resign and, if so, the justification for the request. On February 23, 2007, the same day Chiara announced her resignation, Acting OLA Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling sent a letter to Levin and Stabenow informing them that Chiara had been asked to resign for “performance-related reasons.”
Two weeks later, in his testimony before the House Judiciary Committee on March 6, 2007, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General William Moschella addressed the reasons for the removals of the six U.S. Attorneys who were also testifying before the Committee that day. With regard to the two U.S. Attorneys not present – Kevin Ryan from San Francisco and Chiara – Moschella stated that they had “problems managing their districts.”
Several Department witnesses addressed questions about Chiara’s removal in interviews with congressional investigators. Sampson told congressional investigators that Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis had expressed concerns to him about Chiara’s “management problems.” McNulty also used the phrase “management problems” when explaining to congressional investigators why Chiara was removed. Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General William Mercer told congressional investigators that Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General Michael Elston informed him in October 2006 that Chiara was going to be replaced because of “performance assessments.” Margolis told congressional investigators that Sampson consulted with him either in late 2004 or early 2005 about possibly removing some U.S. Attorneys. Margolis said that he either suggested that Chiara be removed or endorsed her removal at that time based on her “performance.”
According to Chiara, no Department manager told her before Moschella’s March 6 testimony that she was removed because of management deficiencies on her part. In interviews with us on May 30, 2007, and September 15, 2008, and a letter dated July 22, 2008, Chiara alleged that she was removed as U.S. Attorney because of baseless rumors that she had a homosexual relationship with a subordinate AUSA in her office. Chiara asserted that the rumors were spread by Joan Meyer, who was the Criminal Chief in Chiara’s U.S. Attorney’s Office from January 2005 to January 2006 and later served on detail as a Counselor in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General from January 2006 to February 2008, and also by Meyer’s husband, Lloyd Meyer, who was an AUSA in Chiara’s office from 1994 to 2005 and later served on detail in Washington, D.C., in the Office of Legal Policy (OLP) as a Senior Counsel from 2005 to 2006. Chiara stated that given the Meyers’ detailee positions in the Department, they likely conveyed the rumor of the homosexual relationship to the Office of the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General’s Office officials, and in particular to Goodling. Chiara said she believed that rumor resulted in her removal as U.S. Attorney.
Sampson told us he included Chiara’s name as a U.S. Attorney recommended for removal on his first removal list, on March 2, 2005, primarily based on Margolis’s opinion. Margolis told us that he either recommended Chiara for removal or endorsed her removal when her name was first raised by Sampson, and said he recalled discussing this issue with Sampson in late 2004 or early 2005, after the Presidential election. According to Margolis, he had serious questions about Chiara regarding her temperament and “turmoil in her office” when Sampson first broached with him the subject of removing underperforming U.S. Attorneys. Margolis also said his questions about her “kept on getting more serious” and his recommendation in favor of her removal became “stronger as time went on.”
Margolis told us that he began having serious questions about Chiara’s leadership after he was contacted by a former Department of Justice official who had recommended Chiara for the U.S. Attorney position in 2001. Margolis said this official contacted him sometime before he spoke to Sampson about the removals of U.S. Attorneys. The former Department official, whom Margolis knew well and respected highly, said he was aware of events within Chiara’s office, and told Margolis that Chiara was “divisive” and that the office was “in turmoil.”
Margolis said that the concerns he had about Chiara based on the former Department official’s comments intensified when EOUSA General Counsel Scott Schools returned from a meeting with Chiara in September 2005 (which we describe below).
After Sampson’s March 2, 2005, list, Chiara was included on each of Sampson’s subsequent removal lists. As we discuss below, all but one of the senior Department officials responsible for determining which U.S. Attorneys should be removed – Sampson, McNulty, Elston, and Goodling – were aware of both the allegation that Chiara’s office was in turmoil and the allegation that Chiara showed favoritism towards a subordinate AUSA with whom it was alleged that she had a sexual relationship. Only Attorney General Gonzales said that he was not aware of these allegations. Gonzales testified to Congress and told us that he did not recall knowing why Chiara was removed prior to her removal.
We discuss in the next section the conflict that arose in Chiara’s office.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan is located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with branch offices in Lansing and Marquette. The office has about 85 staff members, including approximately 35 attorneys. Prior to Chiara becoming the U.S. Attorney in October 2001, AUSA Phillip Green served as Interim U.S. Attorney from January to October 2001. Joan Meyer served as Green’s First Assistant U.S. Attorney.184
After Chiara’s confirmation, Green became Chiara’s First Assistant and Meyer stepped down to become a line AUSA. As described below, Chiara later appointed Meyer as the office’s Criminal Chief.
Several witnesses in our investigation, including Chiara, described to us significant management conflicts during Chiara’s tenure as U.S. Attorney. The conflicts began in the fall of 2004 and worsened over time. The conflicts related to allegations that Chiara was engaged in a sexual relationship with a subordinate AUSA and that as a result of the relationship Chiara showed favoritism toward the AUSA in granting monetary awards, bonuses, and other personnel actions. According to several witnesses, Joan and Lloyd Meyer were the primary sources of these allegations.
The AUSA who was alleged to have an inappropriate sexual relationship with Chiara joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in October 2002. According to the AUSA, she and Chiara were friends at the time she applied for the position.185 Chiara also told us that the two were friends prior to the AUSA applying for the AUSA position, and that they became very good friends during the time they worked together in the USAO. Chiara said they met in 1996 and shared a professional bond stemming from their time serving as 2 of only 3 elected female county prosecutors in a state with 83 counties. Both Chiara and the AUSA told us that they did not have a sexual relationship, contrary to rumors circulated in the office and in the Department about them.
When the AUSA joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office, she was assigned to work in the Criminal Division. Her caseload included violent crimes in Indian Country, including domestic violence and sexual assault matters. At the time, Joan Meyer and her husband were also AUSAs in the Criminal Division.
The AUSA told us that when she joined the USAO she had an apartment in the eastern part of the state, about a 2 ½ hour drive from the district’s main office in Grand Rapids where she worked. She said that during her first year at the office, she occasionally (about two nights a month) stayed in a basement apartment in Chiara’s house in Lansing in order to cut down her commute. The AUSA told us that she obtained her own apartment in Lansing during her second year in the office. However, she said that even after renting her own apartment in Lansing she occasionally stayed at Chiara’s house to take care of Chiara’s dog when Chiara was out of town. Chiara confirmed that the AUSA would occasionally stay in her house to care for her dog when she was on travel, and Chiara said that the AUSA was the only USAO employee to do so.
The AUSA said that during her first year at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, to avoid the perception that she was receiving favorable treatment from Chiara, she drove her own car to the office rather than commute with Chiara and two other women who lived in Lansing and worked at the USAO. She said that after she moved to Lansing and rented her own apartment, she joined a car pool with Chiara and the two other USAO employees.
Both Chiara and the AUSA told us that they traveled together occasionally on business relating to meetings of the Native American Issues Subcommittee of the AGAC. Both said that they also took a vacation day on one such trip to Seattle to enjoy the sights. Chiara also said that the AUSA has stayed at Chiara’s house in South Carolina a couple of times with her. The AUSA told us that she stayed at the South Carolina house at least one time without Chiara.
As noted above, an EARS team evaluated the USAO during the week of July 12-16, 2004. The EARS team leader was the First Assistant from another U.S. Attorney’s Office. He told us that as part of the EARS process, he and his team provided questionnaires to, and then interviewed, virtually all USAO employees. The questionnaires and interviews sought employee views on the office and any problems or issues that they thought merited the EARS team’s attention.
The EARS leader said that the team heard only one rumor about a relationship between Chiara and the AUSA during their week in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The leader said the rumor was so vague that he did not feel it warranted any mention in the report, or any follow up or independent investigation. He said he did not recall who made the allegation about the relationship, but he recalled that Joan Meyer did not provide this information or other negative information about Chiara or the office. The EARS leader said that he probably did not tell anyone outside the EARS team members about the rumor, but that if he had done so it would only have been to the EARS staff in EOUSA in Washington, D.C.
Lloyd Meyer told us that he told the EARS team about the allegations concerning Chiara’s sexual relationship with the AUSA. He said that he understood that many AUSAs had told the EARS team about the rumors and that the rumors had circulated in the USAO since 2002.
The EARS team leader said that the EARS team did hear several complaints about inequitable distribution of awards, and that some of those complaints specifically concerned the AUSA. The leader said that he reviewed the AUSA’s awards and concluded that they were justified because the AUSA prosecuted matters that no one else in the USAO wanted to prosecute, that she did so in a location far from the main office requiring considerable travel, and that she worked long hours.
According to former First Assistant Green, the rumors about a sexual relationship between Chiara and the AUSA began in the fall of 2004. Green attributed the rumors to Joan and Lloyd Meyer. He said that the rumors began to circulate after the announcement of an EOUSA Director’s Award in the fall of 2004. According to Green, the AUSA’s immediate supervisor had nominated her for the award, while Lloyd Meyer had nominated himself and another AUSA who tried a case with him. Chiara submitted both award nominations to EOUSA, which made the decision to give a Director’s Award to the AUSA but not to Lloyd Meyer or his co-counsel.186 According to Green, Lloyd Meyer “went ballistic” when he learned that the AUSA had won the award and he did not. Green said he believed the Director’s Award fueled the rumors regarding a relationship between Chiara and the AUSA. Lloyd Meyer told us that he thought Chiara pulled strings at EOUSA to get the AUSA the award, although he admitted he had no evidence to support his assertion.
The AUSA told us that although she had heard complaints about favoritism towards her before receiving the award, the complaints intensified in the fall of 2004 after she won the Director’s Award. Chiara told us that Lloyd Meyer mounted a “campaign” to undermine her and drive the AUSA from the district after the AUSA won the award.
Green said that he knew that Lloyd Meyer, even more than Joan Meyer, was spreading rumors about an intimate relationship between Chiara and the AUSA. Green told us he confronted Joan Meyer in the fall of 2004 concerning the rumors, and Green said that Joan Meyer confirmed that Lloyd Meyer was “telling everyone.” Green said that he told Joan Meyer emphatically that the rumors were false.187 He said that Joan Meyer insisted to him that she knew better and cited the example that Chiara and the AUSA had been seen driving into work together and therefore must be living together because the AUSA’s residence was a considerable distance from Grand Rapids. Green told us that he told Joan Meyer that the AUSA had an apartment in Lansing and often drove to the office with Chiara.
Joan Meyer told us that she had “speculated” to people in the office about the relationship between Chiara and the AUSA. When we asked Meyer about the basis for her speculation, she said she “had been noticing situations,” “putting two and two together,” “talking to people,” and came to believe that Chiara and the AUSA were living together. Meyer said she based her conjecture regarding their living arrangement on her observation that Chiara and the AUSA were driving to and from work together every day when the AUSA’s permanent residence was on the east side of the state, 6 hours from Grand Rapids.
Green also said that when he confronted Joan Meyer about the rumors in the fall of 2004, she mentioned to him a “huge award” of approximately $20,000 that the AUSA had allegedly received. Green said he started laughing and told Meyer that the allegation was “preposterous” and explained to her that he came up with the office bonus amounts, not Chiara. He said that although he thought his response “struck a chord” with Meyer, the rumors persisted.
Green told us that the bonus rumors may have been started because of a change in the bonus award process Chiara instituted in the office in the spring of 2004. He said Chiara made the decision to award bonuses only to employees who received “outstanding” performance evaluations for the previous rating year. Green said under the new award process he made the recommendations as to the amounts to be awarded and Chiara talked to the supervisors to make sure that they were in agreement with the bonus recommendations. Green said it was his understanding that no supervisor voiced any objections to the new award system. This process, however, deviated from the past practice in the office under which the management team collectively determined the award recipients and the amounts of the bonuses. Green said he believed the change fueled rumors that the bonus determination process was “secretive” and that Chiara was “pulling the strings.” Green told us that he had devised the formula to determine the recommended bonus amount for each prospective awardee, and said he did not recall any instance in which the final bonus amount deviated from his recommendation.
Both Meyers also alleged to us that in December 2004 an incident occurred that generated further allegations of Chiara’s favoritism towards the AUSA. They alleged that Chiara directed the AUSA’s supervisor to give the AUSA a time-off award after her completion of a trial, against the recommendation of the AUSA’s immediate supervisor.
We determined that on December 28, 2004, Chiara sent an e-mail to the AUSA’s supervisor concerning time-off awards for several people, including the AUSA, who had been involved in a trial. Chiara’s e-mail stated that the AUSA deserved “no less than 32 and could easily be given 40 hours for pulling off this difficult evidentiary case against exceptionally tough odds.” Chiara also recommended a 24-hour award for an AUSA who had been “2nd chair” at the same trial, a 16-hour award for an employee who worked through the weekend in connection with the trial, and 4 and 0 hours, respectively, for two other employees involved in the trial. Chiara told us that she believed the AUSA merited a 32 or 40 hour time-off award because of the difficult preparation work for the trial, especially during the winter in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
In a reply e-mail, the supervisor stated that he had intended to submit 16-hour awards for the AUSA, the second-chair AUSA, and the employee who had worked through the weekend. He also said he would have submitted 4- and 8-hour awards for the two other employees. The supervisor also noted in the e-mail that while Chiara could increase the awards for the AUSA and the second chair AUSA, he was reluctant to propose such large time-off awards for a 3-day trial. He stated that time-off awards were generally limited to 8 to 16 hours for week-long trials.
According to EOUSA records, the AUSA received a 16-hour time off award, effective January 9, 2005. EOUSA records also show that two of the staff mentioned in the e-mail exchange between Chiara and the supervisor received 16-hour time off awards, and one employee received a 4-hour time off award. Thus, contrary to the Meyers’ assertion that Chiara gave the AUSA an award against her supervisor’s recommendation, it appears that the supervisor intended to nominate the AUSA for an award independent of Chiara’s suggestion, and that Chiara did not overrule the supervisor regarding the size of the time-off award.
Joan Meyer also asserted to us that the AUSA received a disproportionate amount of bonuses and time-off awards compared to other employees. Meyer said she “had no doubt” that the AUSA received “18 percent of the bonus pool” allocated for the 40 attorneys in the office. Both Meyers claimed that the AUSA received unmerited bonuses, and cited a story in the Grand Rapids Press on March 14, 2007, which included the allegation that the AUSA received 14% of the bonus money “paid to two dozen assistants.”
Our review of bonus records maintained by EOUSA showed that for the 2004 fiscal year (October 1, 2003, to September 30, 2004, before the allegations first surfaced), the AUSA received a $5,000 bonus. No other employee received a higher bonus, but four other line AUSAs, including Joan Meyer, received the same amount. The AUSA also received one “spot award” of less than $500, which brought her total award money for the year slightly above the other four. Other AUSAs in the office received lesser bonus amounts. The AUSA’s total award comprised roughly 9% of the total bonus pool for attorneys during that fiscal year. EOUSA records show that in the subsequent year, the AUSA received a “Special Act or Service Award” of $500 and a $3,000 bonus that was matched or exceeded by seven other AUSAs. The AUSA’s percentage of the bonus pool for attorneys that year was roughly 7%.
Joan Meyer claimed that Chiara made the bonus decisions, and Meyer said she was unaware that anyone else played a role in the bonus determination. We found, however, that Green made the determinations regarding both recipients and amounts for the 2004 fiscal year, the first year that bonus amounts were called into question.188 As described above, Green told us he explained to Joan Meyer his role in determining attorney bonuses.
In January 2005, Green stepped down as First Assistant and took a position as a line AUSA in the USAO’s Criminal Division. Green told us that he stepped down “predominantly” because of the Meyers. He said that the rumors they were spreading about Chiara and the AUSA were “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Green said that while the office had morale issues under Chiara, it had had morale issues under Chiara’s predecessor as well. He told us that he did not believe that there were widespread morale issues during Chiara’s tenure and said that the 2004 EARS evaluation supported his belief. He also said that what morale problems existed were “driven by” the Meyers. Green said that the rumors about Chiara and the AUSA living together did not interfere with the functioning of the office “to any great extent.” He said that aside from the Meyers, no one ever told him that Chiara was not competent to be the U.S. Attorney.
After Green stepped down, Chuck Gross was named First Assistant and Joan Meyer was selected as Criminal Chief. According to Chiara, she chose Gross as First Assistant and Meyer as Criminal Chief based upon Green’s recommendation. She said Green reasoned that Gross was close to Meyer and could keep her “on track with her criminal [chief] responsibilities.”
After a few months, however, the new management team was in conflict. One of Joan Meyer’s new responsibilities as Criminal Chief was to supervise the AUSA. Meyer told us that her concern about the relationship between Chiara and the AUSA had “nothing to do with any purported homosexuality” but related to the impact the relationship had on Meyer’s ability to supervise the AUSA. Meyer said she believed the relationship between Chiara and the AUSA made the AUSA “virtually unsupervisable.”
Shortly after she became Criminal Chief, Joan Meyer asked Chiara directly if she was living with the AUSA. Meyer told us that being a “good supervisor and wanting to get it on the table,” she confronted Chiara in First Assistant Gross’s presence about the alleged relationship. Meyer said she told Chiara that it would be impossible to supervise the AUSA if she was living with Chiara. According to Meyer, Chiara told her not to assume anything. Meyer said she then asked Chiara directly if she and the AUSA were living together, but Chiara expressly declined to answer the question, telling Meyer it was irrelevant to her job and that she expected Meyer to supervise the AUSA.
Chiara confirmed that Meyer confronted her in early 2005 about the relationship. According to Chiara, Meyer said that she could not supervise the AUSA because of Chiara’s interference. Chiara said Meyer asked her directly if the two had a personal relationship. Chiara told us she probably responded that Meyer had no right to ask that question.
Chiara told us that after the confrontation, she gradually became aware that the allegation about her relationship with the AUSA had become “an office-wide issue.” Chiara told us that because of the “reign of terror” spread by Lloyd and Joan Meyer in 2005, her office had become a “disaster.” However, Chiara told us that she never considered directly addressing this issue either with Joan Meyer or within the office. She also told us that she never considered formally removing herself from personnel decisions affecting the AUSA, such as awards and performance evaluations. Chiara said that she had other friends in the USAO besides the AUSA, and that she did not consider removing herself from decisions concerning them.
Joan Meyer said she believed the AUSA had numerous deficiencies in her performance. In addition, Meyer said she also started raising questions about the AUSA’s travel because the AUSA was “disappearing” to numerous seminars, which Meyer said depleted the office’s travel budget and required others to do the work the AUSA left behind. Meyer said the AUSA’s travel authorizations were handled without her knowledge or approval. Meyer said she did not know who actually signed off on the AUSA’s travel authorizations, but assumed it was Chiara. Chiara denied that she routinely signed off on the AUSA’s travel authorizations, but said she would sign them in an emergency, as she would for any employee.
E-mails reflect that Joan Meyer raised these issues with Chiara in the spring and summer of 2005. On May 23, 2005, Meyer complained in an e-mail to Chiara and Gross about the AUSA’s performance and excessive travel. We did not find any response to Meyer’s e-mail.
On July 12, 2005, Meyer sent another e-mail to Chiara and Gross commenting that the AUSA was seeking a detail in Washington, D.C. and noting that Meyer’s relationship with Chiara had “significantly deteriorated.” On July 28, 2005, Meyer sent Chiara another e-mail complaining about her inability to supervise the AUSA, and stating that the AUSA had “unfettered professional and personnel access” to Chiara. Again, we found no responses to Meyer’s e-mails.
In July 2005, Lloyd Meyer accepted a detail to the Office of Legal Policy in Washington, D.C. He said he took the detail because “the situation in that office was intolerable.”
By September 2005, the relationship between Joan Meyer and the AUSA had become so strained that Chiara removed the AUSA from Meyer’s supervision and assigned her to another supervisor on Chiara’s management team. According to Chiara, Joan Meyer had stopped speaking with the AUSA.
In October 2005, the AUSA accepted a detail to EOUSA in Washington, D.C.
In the fall of 2005, Chiara called EOUSA General Counsel Scott Schools and asked for his help to “resolve conflicts” between herself and her principal managers, Gross and Joan Meyer. According to Schools, Chiara believed that Meyer was “undermining her authority with her subordinates” and that Gross was “not supportive enough of her efforts to manage the office.” Schools decided to visit the USAO, and before the visit he spoke by telephone with Meyer and Green.
According to Schools’s written notes of his pre-meeting telephone conversations, Meyer asserted that Chiara was engaged in a relationship of a “secretive nature” with a female AUSA that resulted in the AUSA being rewarded excessively for her work. Schools’s notes state that Meyer told Schools that Chiara and the AUSA were seen arriving at and leaving the office together and taking the same vacation days; that the relationship was an “open and notorious problem in the district”; and that the AUSA was being “singled out for awards” she did not deserve, and as a consequence morale in the office was “very low.”
Schools’s notes also reflect that Green disputed Meyer’s contentions that there was an inappropriate relationship between Chiara and the AUSA or that Chiara gave preferential treatment to the AUSA. Green attributed the turmoil in the office to the Meyers, whom he described as “two troublesome AUSAs who have their own agenda” and were “spreading rumors” that Chiara and the AUSA were “living together and sleeping together.”
On September 14, 2005, Schools met with Chiara, Gross, and Joan Meyer at a private attorney’s office in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in an effort to resolve the differences among them. The three agreed upon guidelines proposed by Schools to improve communication within the management team, and they agreed to work together for the good of the office. According to Schools, the issue of Chiara’s alleged relationship with the AUSA was not discussed. Chiara told us that she probably discussed the favoritism allegations with Schools, but said that that issue was only “one factor” out of many causing the management problems in her office.
We asked Schools if he came to any conclusion after his visit to the district about the management team in the office, and whether it appeared effective or in disarray. Schools responded, “I would say it was closer to the disarray side.” When asked how much of the disarray was attributable to Joan Meyer’s allegation about the relationship between Chiara and the AUSA, Schools answered that he viewed the allegation as “a little bit tangential.” According to Schools, there was a “perception” by Meyer about the nature of Chiara’s relationship with the AUSA, but the larger complaint Meyer expressed was that “Ms. Chiara was a poor manager overall and the issues regarding [the AUSA] were a component of that but not the real driving issue behind the problem.”
Upon returning to EOUSA, Schools reported to Margolis on his meeting with Chiara and her managers. Schools said he gave Margolis his opinion that the office was in a “difficult situation”; that Chiara was “frustrated”; and that Schools was “not optimistic” that the management problems would be resolved. Schools said he told Margolis about Meyer’s allegation about the relationship between Chiara and the AUSA “even though at that point it wasn’t explicitly stated.”
Schools said he also discussed with Margolis whether Meyer’s allegation regarding Chiara’s and the AUSA’s relationship should be referred to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) for investigation. Schools told us he considered it “a close question,” but that both he and Margolis believed the information furnished by Meyer was “too vague and insubstantial to merit referral to the OIG at that time.” In describing his decision not to refer the matter, Margolis told us that there was not a “threshold showing” that Chiara and the AUSA were engaged in an intimate relationship.
We found that Schools’s meeting with the three officials did not improve matters in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. On November 5, 2005, Gross sent Chiara a draft performance evaluation for the AUSA. Gross told us that the draft contained ratings for five job-related elements, and that he had given the AUSA a rating of “satisfactory” on four elements and “outstanding” on one element.
Gross said that Chiara pressured him to give the AUSA a more favorable evaluation. According to Gross, Chiara told him that the evaluation did not reflect the quality of the AUSA’s work, and that the AUSA would give Gross a binder of materials that he should consider when revising her performance evaluation. Gross said that Chiara did not directly tell him to change two of the four “satisfactory” ratings to “outstanding” so the AUSA would receive an overall rating of “outstanding,” but Gross said he was “confident” that had he not done so, Chiara would have given the evaluation back to him again.
Chiara told us that she believed that Joan Meyer drafted the AUSA’s evaluation, or that Meyer told Gross what to write. Chiara told us that she thought Gross’s draft evaluation was “outrageous” because the AUSA deserved an overall “outstanding” rating based on her work. Chiara said she told Gross to speak to judges and others who knew the AUSA’s work, but Chiara said she did not recall telling Gross that the AUSA would give him a binder of materials.
Gross said that after reviewing the materials the AUSA gave him and talking to a federal magistrate and others who knew her work, he believed that he should revise one of the “satisfactory” elements to “outstanding.” However, he said he did not feel that he should raise any other “satisfactory” rating. Gross said he ultimately changed the rating for one additional element to “outstanding” because he wanted Chiara to sign off on Joan Meyer’s performance evaluation, who Gross had rated overall as “outstanding.” Gross said that he presented both the revised AUSA’s and Meyer’s evaluations to Chiara, put them on her desk, and told her they were “connected.” Chiara approved both evaluations. However, Chiara denied that her acceptance of the two evaluations was connected.
In a second incident, on November 6, 2005, Joan Meyer sent Chiara an e-mail commenting on the fact that the AUSA was receiving travel reimbursements from the office travel budget for her trips back to Michigan from Washington, D.C., although as described above the AUSA was on detail at the time to EOUSA. Meyer stated in the e-mail that even though the AUSA was on detail, other AUSAs perceived that her travel expense reimbursements showed favoritism because the office travel budget was tight. Meyer also stated that the AUSA had received two case-of-the-year awards from the USAO, and the second award was not recommended by the Criminal Division supervisors or the First Assistant. Meyer told Chiara that “many cases went unrecognized that were more meritorious” and that the AUSA’s receipt of the second award was “perceived” to be the result of Chiara’s favoritism. We found no response by Chiara to Meyer’s e-mail. Chiara did not recall responding to this e-mail, but said she thought that if she responded it would have been orally.
Two days later, on November 8, 2005, Chiara sent an e-mail to Schools reporting that “the situation here continues to deteriorate” and welcoming any suggestions he might have. Chiara said that she may have sent this e-mail in part because of Meyer’s e-mail to her 2 days earlier.
We did not find a specific response from Schools to this e-mail. However, in December 2005, after Meyer had announced her impending departure for a detail in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General, Schools suggested to Chiara that she advertise the positions of First Assistant and Criminal Chief.
In late January 2006, Joan Meyer stepped down as Criminal Chief and began a detail in Washington, D.C., as a Counselor in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. As noted above, her husband Lloyd Meyer had previously accepted a detail to OLP in July 2005, and the AUSA had accepted a detail to EOUSA in October 2005.
Most senior Department officials we interviewed who were involved in the removal of the U.S. Attorneys said they were aware of the allegations about the turmoil in Chiara’s office and about an alleged relationship between Chiara and a female AUSA (though many did not know the identity of the AUSA). Several said they heard the allegations directly from Joan Meyer after she began her detail with the Deputy Attorney General’s Office in late January 2006.189
Sampson told congressional investigators that he spoke to Margolis frequently about issues with U.S. Attorneys, and he had a “hazy recollection of him expressing or acknowledging concerns about Ms. Chiara.” According to Sampson, both Goodling and Elston also expressed concerns about Chiara “late in the [removal] process.” He said he remembered thinking at the time that the concerns raised by Elston – that Chiara’s office was “fractured . . . and Ms. Chiara was not able to manage the in-fighting” – might have been generated by Joan Meyer.
In his interview with us, Sampson said that he heard from Goodling and Elston that “there were management difficulties and that [Chiara] was not the strongest of USAs.” He also stated that he was aware of an allegation that Chiara was engaged in a romantic relationship with a female AUSA in her office. Sampson said that allegation came to his attention either directly from Joan Meyer or indirectly from Meyer through Elston. In addition, Sampson said that after Chiara’s name had appeared on Sampson’s first two removal lists and after Meyer had started in the Deputy Attorney General’s Office, he had the “perception that the office was a disaster.”
As discussed above, Margolis told us that he either recommended Chiara for removal or endorsed her removal in late 2004 or early 2005 when Sampson first raised her name. In addition, Margolis told us that Joan Meyer first broached with him the subject of the alleged relationship between Chiara and the AUSA sometime in early 2006, shortly after Meyer began her detail with the Deputy Attorney General’s Office. According to Margolis, Meyer asserted that Chiara and the AUSA were living together. When Margolis asked Meyer how she knew this, she replied that Chiara and the AUSA would drive off together at the end of the day and that since Meyer knew that the AUSA lived too far away to commute, she inferred that the two must have been living together at Chiara’s house. According to Margolis, after Meyer disclosed her observations and conclusions, she told Margolis that he had to report it to the OIG. Margolis told us that he told Meyer he was not a messenger and that she would have to report it herself since she was the one who claimed knowledge of the relationship.190
Other senior Department officials also became aware of the rumors surrounding Chiara and the AUSA before Chiara was removed. Goodling declined to speak with us, but as described in our previous report on politicized hiring by Goodling and others in the Office of the Attorney General, we found that Goodling was aware of the rumors of a sexual relationship between the AUSA and Chiara.191 In fact, Goodling acted on those rumors by terminating the AUSA’s detail at EOUSA after EOUSA had agreed to extend her detail for a second year. In addition, we found that Goodling attempted to prevent the AUSA from obtaining two other details in the Department. However, we did not find any evidence that Goodling recommended Chiara’s removal.
McNulty also told us that he was aware of the allegations about Chiara and “a female employee.” McNulty said he could not remember the source of the rumor, but he “heard that Joan [Meyer] had made some comment that had come up in the office about the relationship.”
Elston said he was aware of the allegation that Chiara and the AUSA were living together and that their relationship had caused problems in the office. Elston said the source of this information was “primarily” Joan Meyer. However, Elston told us their “living together” was not the important issue to him with regard to Chiara. He said that the alleged favoritism in bonus awards was the important issue because of the effect it had on office morale.
Rachel Brand, then Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy (OLP), was also aware of the relationship allegations. Brand said that Lloyd Meyer, then on detail to OLP, had complained to her “many times” about Chiara’s leadership and had claimed that Chiara was engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a female AUSA in the office. According to Brand, Lloyd Meyer told her that “everyone” knew the two were living together and that the AUSA was receiving the largest bonuses in the office. Brand said she also discussed these issues with Joan Meyer, then on detail to the Office of the Deputy Attorney General. Brand said she thought it “possible” that she conveyed to Sampson what she heard from the Meyers.192
Joan Meyer denied telling Sampson and McNulty her allegations about Chiara and the AUSA, but acknowledged having a conversation with Elston “sometime in 2006,” about the AUSA. She said she “may have even told [Elston] the story” about confronting Chiara about her living arrangements with the AUSA. Meyer told us that “I’ve never had extensive conversations with anybody in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General about Margaret Chiara.” She said she discussed the Chiara-AUSA relationship with Margolis “a little bit” in early 2006.
In June 2006, First Assistant Gross left the USAO for a detail to Iraq. He said that by the time he left the office “morale was bad.” Gross said he and some other managers had “lost faith in [Chiara’s] ability to lead the office.” Gross said that the use of the word “fractured” to describe the USAO was not unfair. He told us that by that time “the vast majority” of staff thought Chiara was doing “a poor job or at best an okay job.”
In July 2006, three anonymous letters were sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee challenging the nomination of Green, Chiara’s former First Assistant, to be the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois. The letters were referred to OPR by Illinois Senator Richard Durbin. OPR subsequently initiated an investigation.
In August 2006, Chiara asked the Department to conduct an investigation into who had sent the anonymous letters to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Chiara and others believed Lloyd Meyer had sent them, and Chiara believed the statements in the letters were deliberate falsehoods.
On October 2, 2006, after learning that the decision on whether to grant her request would be made by the Deputy Attorney General’s Office, Chiara sent an e-mail to Elston and Margolis inquiring into the status of her request for an investigation into the source of the anonymous letters. Chiara sent another e-mail on October 4 to Margolis, requesting an opportunity to meet with him in Washington, D.C., or Grand Rapids so that she and her “senior management team” could more effectively convey the “severity and import of our office and district situation.” In her e-mails to Margolis and others, Chiara said that this issue was important to her office because she believed one of her employees deliberately gave false and malicious information to the Senate, and because the anonymous letters were having an adverse effect on her office.
On October 6, Margolis forwarded several of Chiara’s e-mails to Elston, Schools, and Moschella, among others. Elston responded to Margolis’s e-mail by stating: “Perhaps it is time for her to move on if she can’t manage her office.”
On October 18, 2006, Margolis sent a lengthy e-mail to Chiara, denying her request for an investigation into the source of the anonymous letters. In explaining his decision, Margolis cited the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA), 5 U.S.C. § 2302, and pointed out that, given the investigation undertaken by OPR into Green’s alleged conduct, a parallel investigation into the source of those allegations would “serve little purpose other than to identify the individual possibly entitled to protection under the WPA.” Margolis also pointed out that because the Senate Judiciary Committee asked OPR to investigate the merits of the allegations against Green, the Committee might well view the Department as more interested in retaliating against an employee who disclosed misconduct to Congress than in ascertaining the truth about the misconduct allegations. Margolis informed Chiara that he had determined that the best interests of the Department would not be served by conducting the investigation she requested.
Chiara was not satisfied with Margolis’s decision and asked to meet with McNulty, Margolis, and Schools in Washington, D.C. The meeting was held on the afternoon on October 19, 2006. Margolis’s decision was not altered.
According to Elston, Chiara’s persistence in advocating for the investigation struck him as “weird.” He told us that “everyone” thought such an investigation was a bad idea, but that Chiara kept pushing for it anyway.
Margolis told us that he had concerns about Chiara’s performance long before the issue of her request for an investigation arose, but he said he was troubled by her request because it seemed Chiara was more interested in finding and punishing the anonymous letter writer than in ascertaining the truth or falsity of the allegations.
In early November 2006, Chiara called Elston and broached the subject of taking a leave of absence from her U.S. Attorney position for a potential position as the interim dean of the Michigan State University Law School. After consulting with Sampson, Elston called Chiara on November 3 and informed her that a leave of absence was not an option, but that she should consider accepting the position anyway because the White House was likely to request her resignation shortly after the upcoming mid-term elections. According to Chiara, Elston stated to her that the mid-term election projections for Republican candidates were dim and that she was likely to be one of a number of U.S. Attorneys who would be asked to resign in order to accommodate unsuccessful Republican congressional candidates. According to Chiara, neither Elston nor any other Department official ever gave her any other explanation for the subsequent resignation request.
Elston told us that he was “trying to do her a favor” when he told Chiara of the possibility that her resignation would be requested after the election. He said he knew that Chiara’s name was on Sampson’s removal list and that action was expected to be taken shortly. He said he learned from Margolis that a leave of absence from a U.S. Attorney position was not permissible, and he said he did not want to see Chiara pass up an opportunity when he knew what she did not know – that her removal was in the offing. Elston said he did not recall telling Chiara that her position would be needed for an unsuccessful Republican congressional candidate, but acknowledged that “he beat around the bush in a big way” when Chiara asked him why her resignation might be sought. Elston said he told her he did not know the answer but offered “hypothetical possibilities,” including political accommodation. Elston also told us that he was instructed by Sampson not to disclose the reason for the likely resignation request or to tell Chiara that her resignation would be requested.
After speaking with Elston, Chiara sent an e-mail to McNulty on November 5, 2006, asking for an explanation as to the reasons for the anticipated resignation request and expressed her dismay about Elston’s “dire prediction.” In a subsequent e-mail on November 7, Chiara asked McNulty to tell her why she would be asked to resign “as soon as the ‘election dust settles.’”
Like the other U.S. Attorneys, Chiara received a telephone call from EOUSA Director Battle on December 7, 2006, asking for her resignation. As he told the other U.S. Attorneys, Battle said that the Administration appreciated her service but wanted to give someone else the opportunity to serve. After Battle’s call, Chiara immediately asked McNulty for additional time beyond the January 31, 2007, resignation date proposed by Battle. Chiara was granted 2 extensions, the first for 1 month, and the second for a shorter period.
On February 1, 2007, Chiara sent an e-mail to McNulty in which she noted that news reports concerning other departing U.S. Attorneys indicated that they had been asked to leave for one of two reasons: failure to meet expectations or failure to follow Department directives. Chiara contended that she fit into neither category, and asked directly: “Why have I been asked to resign? The real reason, especially if true, would be a lot easier to live with.” McNulty did not respond to the e-mail.
On February 23, 2007, Chiara announced her resignation, and she left office on March 16, 2007.
Based on our investigation, we concluded that concern about Chiara’s management of the U.S. Attorney’s Office was the reason for her removal.
Before Sampson created his first U.S. Attorney removal list in March 2005, Margolis recommended to him that Chiara be replaced. Margolis said he had serious questions about Chiara because of her leadership and temperament, and because of the turmoil in her office. Margolis told us that he began having these questions when he was contacted by a former Department of Justice official who had recommended Chiara for the U.S. Attorney position in 2001. This official, who said he was aware of events within Chiara’s office and whom Margolis knew well and respected highly, told Margolis that Chiara was “divisive” and that her office was “in turmoil.” Margolis said that his questions about Chiara became more serious and his recommendation in favor of her removal became stronger as time went on. Based on Margolis’s recommendation, Sampson included Chiara on his first removal list, and she remained on every subsequent list until she was called by EOUSA Director Battle and told to resign on December 7, 2006.
We also assessed the allegations about Chiara that came to the attention of the Department’s senior officials after she was first placed on the removal list, including an allegation that she showed favoritism toward a subordinate AUSA and a rumor that she was having a sexual or romantic relationship with that AUSA. We believe the allegation of favoritism by Chiara towards the AUSA in her office, and Chiara’s handling of the resulting turmoil, contributed to Margolis’s and other Department leaders’ concerns about her management. However, we did not conclude that the allegation that Chiara had a sexual relationship with the AUSA was the reason for her removal, as Chiara subsequently asserted.
As part of our investigation into the reasons for Chiara’s removal, we examined how she and the Department handled the turmoil in her office. In September 2005, EOUSA General Counsel Schools traveled to her district to help resolve conflicts between herself and her principal managers, the First Assistant and Criminal Chief. After Schools’s intervention, however, the conflicts did not abate. Even after that, Chiara interceded in a supervisor’s performance evaluation of the AUSA she was alleged to be showing favoritism toward, and the conflicts in the office intensified.
We found that Chiara did not adequately address allegations about favoritism towards the AUSA. Regardless of the nature of their relationship, Chiara had interactions with the AUSA – who on occasion stayed in Chiara’s basement apartment and sometimes walked Chiara’s dog when Chiara was on travel – that resulted in questions of favoritism between a supervisor and a subordinate. Chiara’s Criminal Chief, Joan Meyer, squarely confronted Chiara with the issue of favoritism and alleged that it was affecting Meyer’s ability to supervise the AUSA and causing serious division within the office. This was a management issue that Chiara should have addressed. However, Chiara refused to address the questions directly and did not take action to abate the favoritism concerns.
Chiara had several opportunities to address this issue. She could have, for example, removed herself from significant decisions affecting the AUSA in order to quell the concerns about favoritism. She could also have discussed the allegations and an appropriate course of action to address them with Schools. She did not do so. Instead, Chiara exacerbated the favoritism concerns by intervening in the performance rating of the AUSA, and pressuring the AUSA’s supervisor to raise the AUSA’s overall performance evaluation from “satisfactory” to “outstanding.”
While we do not believe the Department’s removal of Chiara was inappropriate, we also do not condone the rumors and allegations that Joan and Lloyd Meyer spread about Chiara and the nature of her relationship with the AUSA. Although both Meyers have left the Department, we believe that their conduct in spreading unproven rumors about a sexual relationship between a Department supervisor and subordinate, rather than report them to the OIG for investigation, was unprofessional. In addition, we believe it would have been better practice for the Department to have addressed the allegations of an inappropriate relationship and favoritism head on and asked for a review of them.
In sum, we concluded that the Department’s action in removing Chiara was not based on inappropriate factors. Chiara was identified for removal as U.S. Attorney from the time Sampson developed his first list because of concerns raised about her management of the office, and those concerns intensified over time. While Department officials became aware of rumors of a sexual relationship between Chiara and a subordinate AUSA, which were inappropriately spread by the Meyers, we found that performance concerns, rather than these rumors, caused the Department to remove Chiara as U.S. Attorney.
The AUSA told us that her friendship with Chiara was disclosed to the USAO’s hiring committee. However, Chuck Gross, then the Civil Chief and the head of the USAO’s hiring committee, said he did not know at the time that the AUSA and Chiara were friends. Joan Meyer, who was also on the hiring committee, said that Chiara disclosed only a “professional relationship” with the AUSA before endorsing her as a “great prosecutor.”
Chiara told us that she did not participate in the AUSA’s hiring process other than to approve the committee’s “unanimous” recommendation. Former First Assistant Green told us that Chiara told the hiring committee she was leaving the choice up to them. According to Green, the committee reached a consensus that the AUSA was the best qualified applicant. However, Gross told us that he opposed hiring the AUSA because he believed that another candidate was more qualified. He said there was no consensus on the committee for or against the AUSA, and he thought the decision to hire her was probably made by Chiara and Green. When we informed Chiara that Gross said that he had opposed the AUSA’s hiring, Chiara said she had not known that and that she had been told the AUSA’s selection was unanimous.
Green said he submitted both nominations in different categories to avoid having colleagues competing against each other. Green also told us that he reviewed and finalized the award submissions and that Chiara only signed off on them.
Green told us that Chiara and the AUSA were friends and nothing more. He said he was as “certain as [he] could be about two people who did not live” with him that they were not involved in a sexual or romantic relationship.
Green was not involved in the bonus determinations for the 2005 fiscal year because he had stepped down as First Assistant by that time. Gross, his replacement as First Assistant, told us that Chiara participated in choosing the recipients and award amounts. Chiara told us that after much discussion, she and Gross came to a “consensus” about bonus amounts for that year. Chiara told us that she did not recall disagreeing with Gross over the bonus amount for the AUSA.
Joan Meyer denied spreading rumors about Chiara and the AUSA living together. However, we found numerous e-mails from Meyer in 2006 when she was in the Deputy Attorney General’s Office in which she made such allegations. We found e-mails from Meyer to seven different people in the USAO and to her husband in which she alleged that the AUSA was Chiara’s “live-in girlfriend”; that Chiara’s conduct evidenced “unfair treatment, blatant favoritism and the promotion of [Chiara’s] live-in girlfriend’s career at the expense of a government budget”; that “[the AUSA] is either keeping her job or walking out of our office with bonuses, a salary history and awards that she received, not because she deserved them, but because she is living with and vacationing with the US Attorney who is her life partner (whatever that means);” and that there was “the substantial likelihood that Chiara is benefiting financially from the bonuses and salary increases she is awarding [the AUSA].”
Meyer did not report her allegations to the OIG. However, in August 2006 Meyer was interviewed in connection with an OPR investigation regarding anonymous allegations against former First Assistant Phil Green, which we discuss below. In her interview, Meyer raised with OPR the same allegations about Chiara and the AUSA even though they were unrelated to the pending investigation for which she was interviewed. She asked OPR to investigate or to refer the matter to the OIG. OPR informed Meyer that the allegations fell within the jurisdiction of the OIG and advised her to report the matter to the OIG if she believed that she had evidence to support the allegations. Meyer never did so. Meyer later told us that she never reported the allegations because “I was on [Chiara’s] payroll . . . She was in control of my bonuses, my salary levels . . . I wasn’t going to sign some sort of formal referral . . . while I was on her payroll.” Meyer also noted that she had reported the allegations to Schools and Margolis.
In connection with his January 9, 2006, U.S. Attorney removal list, Sampson had proposed to Harriet Miers that Brand replace Chiara. In a subsequent e-mail to Deputy White House Counsel William Kelley on May 11, 2006, Sampson asked Kelley to call him to discuss “Rachel Brand for W.D. Mich.” Brand told us that sometime in 2006 Sampson broached the subject of her replacing Chiara as U.S. Attorney in Western Michigan. According to Brand, she and Sampson were good friends and he knew she had roots in Michigan and had previously expressed to him a general interest in becoming a U.S. Attorney. Brand eventually withdrew her name from consideration for the U.S. Attorney position for personal reasons.