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February 12, 2004 — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) files an ethics complaint against Manuel Miranda...

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Memogate Timeline

For several months, Senate action on President Bush’s judicial nominees has ground to a halt as the Judiciary Committee and its members have been consumed with what has become popularly known as "Memogate." The term refers to reportedly more than 4,000 memoranda to and from Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that outline troubling collusion between liberal special interest groups and Committee Democrats to obstruct the confirmation of many of the President’s judicial nominees.

Investigations have been launched that, thus far, have focused solely on how the memos were obtained by Republican staffers on the Committee and how they were leaked. The Center and others have pushed for a complete and thorough investigation into the memos’ content.

What follows is a detailed and up-to-date timeline of the events surrounding Memogate. Check back often as we will continually update the timeline as new developments occur.

November 14, 2003 — The Wall Street Journal publishes excerpts from staff memos written to Senate Democrats in 2001-2003 outlining strategies to defeat President Bush’s judicial nominees.

November 15, 2003 — The Washington Times publish excerpts from the memos.

November 17, 2003 — Democratic Senators Dick Durbin (Ill.), Edward Kennedy (Mass.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.) call upon Senate Sergeant-at-Arms William Pickle to conduct an official investigation into how the memos were leaked; Capitol Hill police begin confiscating Senate Judiciary Committee computer hard drives in the search for evidence of who leaked the documents.

November 25, 2003 — Referring to how some memos were obtained and "leaked" to the press, at a Capitol Hill press conference, Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) states he is "mortified that this improper, unethical and simply unacceptable breach of confidential files may have occurred on my watch." He announces that an official Sergeant-at-Arms investigation is underway and that he has placed an unnamed aide on administrative leave in connection with the leaks.

December 3, 2003 — The Center for Individual Freedom, joined by Coalition for a Fair Judiciary, the Congress of Racial Equality and Project 21, files a complaint with the Virginia State Bar calling for a full investigation of Elaine R. Jones, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc., based on the content of a memo stating that she contacted Senator Kennedy’s office and requested that he delay Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on any nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit until after the court decided the pending University of Michigan case on the constitutionality of affirmative action, in which Elaine Jones was a counsel for the Defendant-Intervenors.

February 6, 2004 — Manuel Miranda resigns from his position as legal counsel to Majority Leader Bill Frist and files a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee stating that other unpublished memos in Sergeant-at-Arms Pickle’s possession contain evidence of "public corruption" by Senators, including "direct influencing of the Senate’s advice and consent role by the promise of campaign funding and election support."

February 10, 2004 — The Center for Individual Freedom joins more than two dozen organizations in asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee or their staffs exchanged efforts to obstruct the confirmation of President Bush’s judicial nominees for campaign contributions and support.

February 10, 2004 — Sergeant-at-Arms Pickle privately briefs members of the Senate Judiciary Committee about the progress of the investigation.

February 12, 2004 Fox News reports that Senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) allegedly urged Leahy to delay a vote on one Bush judicial nominee because trial lawyers’ groups and the NAACP threatened to cut back on campaign spending for Democratic candidates in North Carolina if the vote occurred as scheduled.

February 12, 2004 — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) files an ethics complaint against Manuel Miranda with the New York Bar alleging that Miranda violated the Rules of Professional Conduct by reading the Democrats’ memos.

February 20, 2004 — Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) calls for an investigation into the content of memos to determine whether Democrats committed any wrongdoing in their efforts to block judicial nominations

February 23, 2004 — In an interview with CNS News, Miranda provides additional details about the content of the memos, the investigation and the way in which the memos were obtained.

February 24, 2004 — The Legal Times reports that Elaine R. Jones has retained former Clinton defense attorney David Kendall and former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder to represent her in her ethics complaint with the Virginia State Bar.

March 1, 2004 — The Center for Individual Freedom calls on the Senate to release the full Sergeant-at-Arms report as well as the memos themselves. Senate Democrats ask the White House and Justice Department whether they had seen any of the memos.

March 2, 2004 — An additional former Judiciary Committee staffer with extensive knowledge of computer network security comes forward to confirm Miranda’s description of the way he accessed the memos. The Sergeant-at-Arms delays delivery of his report to Senate Judiciary Committee.

March 3, 2004 — Sergeant-at-Arms Pickle delivers his report to Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Leahy.

March 4, 2004 — The full Senate Judiciary Committee meets to review the Sergeant-at-Arms’ report and decides to release a redacted version to the press and the public (Part 1 and Part 2). The report implicates Miranda and another Senate staffer. Judiciary staff inadvertently release unredacted version to the press.

March 9, 2004 — Judiciary Republicans, led by Senator Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.), accuse Democrat staff of releasing the unredacted report intentionally. Sergeant-at-Arms Pickle announces he will start a new investigation into this matter. Democrats worry that the disclosure may make a criminal investigation more difficult.

[Posted March 11, 2004]