So sayeth John McKay, one of the fired USAs in the US Attorney/Alberto Gonzales scandal on Meet the Press this morning.
MR. McKAY: Well, we really don’t—it tells me that, that the Justice Department and, and the administration and the President have a responsibility now to deal with the black cloud that’s hanging over the Department of Justice. The—our former colleagues who were United States attorneys and the career men and women who do the work of the Department of Justice are...are people of great integrity. The last thing they need to deal with is an implication that politics are allowed into the grand jury.
Iglesias has serious doubts about the integrity of Alberto Gonzales...(transcript below the fold)
MR. RUSSERT: "...Republican candidate for governor was elected, then that’s a terrible thing.” Very close race for the governorship in your state, the Democrat won by just a handful of votes. You looked into the case, decided you did not find voter fraud. When you applied for a federal judgeship, that issue was raised with you. Correct?
MR. McKAY: That’s correct. I, I was able to go into the White House in a meeting with Harriet Miers and her deputy Bill Kelly, and the very first question that I was asked was, was in reference to the 2004 governor’s election.
MR. RUSSERT: And did they ask you why you did not go forward with an investigation or with indictments?
MR. McKAY: No, they actually asked me why Republicans in the state of Washington would be angry with me. And, of course, all of the actions taken by the federal government, which were not publicly discussed, were well-known to, to my supervisors and, and those who follow our work in Washington, D.C. So I was a little surprised that they would ask me about that, since our office had carefully reviewed the evidence, and really, in the case of the 2004 governor’s election here, the lack of evidence. And the decision that I made not to go forward was a really unanimous decision with the Seattle division of the FBI. So, so from our standpoint, it wasn’t controversial from an evidentiary standpoint, even though it was very controversial in the state of Washington. And, you know, we expected to be supported by people in Washington, D.C., when we make tough decisions like that. And I think that’s a, a really important problem here that folks who, who raise their hand and take—took the same oath I did to support and defend the Constitution didn’t do the same thing we did, which was focus on the evidence and not allow politics into the work that we do in, in criminal prosecutions.
MR. RUSSERT: When you look at these cases, the situation you’re talking about where there was a close governor’s race in state of Washington, a Democrat won, you looked at it, did not find anything untoward. Mr. Iglesias investigating the activities of Democrats did not act as quickly, perhaps, as some Republican office holders wanted him to. In California, a Republican congressman indicted and convicted, another was under investigation. In each of these districts, a highly controversial, perhaps even explosive political investigation going on. Mr. McKay, what does that tell you in your mind as to why U.S. attorneys were let go?
MR. McKAY: Well, we really don’t—it tells me that, that the Justice Department and, and the administration and the president have a responsibility now to deal with the black cloud that’s hanging over the Department of Justice. The—our former colleagues who were United States attorneys and the career men and women who do the work of the Department of Justice are, are people of great integrity. The last thing they need to deal with is an implication that politics are allowed into the grand jury. You know, when you’re looking at, at the business end of a federal grand jury, chances are someone is going to federal prison. And it’s critical, it’s absolutely critical that no one think that politics enter into that kind of a decision in an—in an individual case. And we work hard as federal prosecutors, and I’m, I’m proud to have served in this position and to know that my colleagues will continue to work very, very hard to make sure politics don’t make the difference, but only evidence does.
MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Iglesias, when you hear Mr. McKay talk about the questions he was asked about the governor’s race in the state of Washington, your own situation, a senator, a congressman calling you, California, the removal of a U.S. attorney there when an investigation began about a Republican congressman, do you connect those dots and say, “My God, we, we were removed for political reasons”?
MR. IGLESIAS: It’s extremely troubling. The United States attorneys have a history, under various administrations, of being independent. We look at the facts, we apply the law. If we have proof beyond a reasonable doubt, we go forward. Politics have historically not played a part. I recall John Ashcroft sitting me in, in his office and saying, “Politics have no part of your job as a U.S. attorney.” So it is troubling connecting those political dots. And I hope when this scandal is over, the tradition is returned to that as United States attorneys keep politics out and just focus on what the evidence is.
MR. RUSSERT: Knowing what you know today, do you have confidence in the leadership and the integrity of the attorney general?
MR. IGLESIAS: Right now I’ve got serious doubts. I really do.
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