A month ago today, a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Tony Snow if the president might have been directly involved in suggesting the purge of U.S. Attorneys. Snow said, “Anything’s possible … but I don’t think so.” Keep that background in mind when you consider a very interesting item from The Albuquerque Journal that ran over the weekend.
Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was fired after Sen. Pete Domenici, who had been unhappy with Iglesias for some time, made a personal appeal to the White House, the Journal has learned.
Domenici had complained about Iglesias before, at one point going to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before taking his request to the president as a last resort.
As the Journal explained it, Domenici wanted Iglesias to pursue some alleged corruption controversies involving Democrats in New Mexico. Iglesias resisted the pressure. By the spring of 2006, Domenici was fed up and told AG Gonzales he wanted Iglesias out. Gonzales refused and said he’d only take orders from the president.
So, Domenici went over the Attorney General’s head and called Karl Rove, asking him to take his concerns about Iglesias directly to the president. The New Mexico senator and the president reportedly discussed the U.S. Attorney on the phone at some point after the midterm elections but before the Dec. 7 purge. (Iglesias’ name first showed up on a Nov. 15 list of federal prosecutors who would be asked to resign. It was not on a similar list prepared in October.)
You’ll also recall, of course, that Domenici called Iglesias shortly before the election, asking the U.S. Attorney if he would indict New Mexico Democrat Manny Aragon. When Iglesias declined, Domenici replied, “I’m very sorry to hear that,” and then hung up on him.
So, what exactly was the president’s role in directing this firing? TPM has more.