“I’m very sorry to hear that”

Those were the words of Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) to purged US Attorney from New Mexico David Iglesias.  According to Iglesias, Domenici called Iglesias to ask whether certain corruption cases against Democrats in New Mexico would be filed before the November elections — elections in which Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) was facing a very stiff challenge.  Iglesias responded that they probably would not.  And Domenici made his displeasure clear.  Iglesias, who has a generally stellar track record and reputation, lost his job a few weeks later, allegedly for “poor job performance.”

As a result, Domenici is under an ethics investigation, and I’d say is in big trouble.  If Domenici is forced to leave the Senate (unlikely, but possible), it’s of course huge, since a Democrat likes takes over that seat.  Wilson is also implicated — she, too, made inappropriate calls to Iglesias.

The US Attorney scandal hasn’t yet gotten the public attention it deserves.  It’s one of the most shocking things the Bush administration has done.  But I think this one is a sleeper that could awaken in a very nasty way for BushCo.  No American, of any political stripe, likes the idea of political pressure being brought to bear on federal prosecutors.

Watch an edited clip of Iglesias’ testimony.

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9 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. The Bush Administration...

    ...is already starting to back pedal

    This should be an interesting ride.

  2. Writen like a true attorney

    No American, of any political stripe, likes the idea of political pressure being brought to bear on federal prosecutors.

    I completely disagree.  Most Americans haven't given it a second thought, and even with the bubbling news this recent escapade has generated, they still haven't given it a second thought.

    There are plenty of Americans who severely mistrust the vast majority of (choose one or more groups): Congressmen, government attorneys, policemen, FBI, CIA, IRS agents, etc.  Frankly, few Americans what a DA or USAttorney does, what they're tasked with doing, or how that rule contributes to our nation of laws.

    I'm not saying that it's not important, or that it has been dealt with appropriately.  What I am suggesting is that the issue requires a fairly high degree of sophistication within law and government to really appreciate, and without a smoking gun and a government-abused-Joe-6-pack, it's just not going to get traction because, frankly, people don't personally care.  They've got Congressmen to do that for them.

  3. Looks worse still

    Paul Krugman today tells us

    Donald Shields and John Cragan, two professors of communication, have compiled a database of investigations and/or indictments of candidates and elected officials by U.S. attorneys since the Bush administration came to power. Of the 375 cases they identified, 10 involved independents, 67 involved Republicans, and 298 involved Democrats. The main source of this partisan tilt was a huge disparity in investigations of local politicians, in which Democrats were seven times as likely as Republicans to face Justice Department scrutiny.

    A quick search for Shields & Cragan turns up this where they point out

    By keeping political profiling at the local level -- in this way the story is most likely not to be viewed nationally -- it makes it harder for reporters to connect the dots between corruption investigations in say Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, or Philadelphia let alone towns like Carson, Colton, East Point, or Escambia, or counties like Cherokee, Harrison, Hudson, or Lake. Each local report of a corruption investigation appears as only an isolated incident rather than as a central example of a broader pattern created by the Bush Justice Department's unethical practice of political profiling.
  4. More $quot;innocent$quot; phone calls

    Former U.S. Attorney John McKay [posted to Seattle, WA] said the chief of staff for a Washington state congressman called him to ask about an investigation into the disputed election of Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire.

    McKay also said Tuesday that White House lawyers later asked him about why he had "mishandled" the election probe during an interview for McKay's unsuccessful bid to become a federal judge.


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