As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, March 05, 2007

Iglesiasgate: Whole Lotta Shakeup Going On

A lot of developments in the David Iglesias/Pete Domenici case:

• Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has files an ethics complaint against Sen. Domenici for calling then-US Attorney Iglesias and questioning him about an upcoming corruption case:

Sen. Domenici has acknowledged that he contacted Mr. Iglesias to inquire about an ongoing corruption probe of Democrats. Mr. Iglesias previously stated that in mid-October, he was pressured about the pace of the investigation by two New Mexico lawmakers. Initially, when asked about Mr. Iglesias’s allegations, Sen. Domenici stated, “I have no idea what he’s talking about.” Sen. Domenici has now admitted that he called Mr. Iglesias, stating “I asked Mr. Iglesias if he could tell me what was going on in that investigation and give me an idea of what time frame we were looking at.”

In a discussion of Senate Rule 43, the Senate Ethics Manual states that “[t]he general advice of the Ethics Committee concerning pending court actions is that Senate offices should refrain from intervening in such legal actions . . . until the matter has reached a resolution in the courts.” The manual also indicates that Senators are not to communicate with an agency regarding ongoing enforcement or investigative matters.

CREW’s complaint alleges that Sen. Domenici violated Rule 43 by pressuring Mr. Iglesias to act quickly on a pending corruption investigation. Moreover, given that Sen. Domenici made the call shortly before the November elections, he appears to have violated the prohibition on contacting agencies based on political considerations. CREW also alleges that by initially denying Mr. Iglesias’s allegation, Sen. Domenici may have violated Senate rules by engaging in “improper conduct which may reflect upon the Senate.”

That seems pretty cut and dried to me. It'll end up being a he said/she said, with Domenici claiming that no pressuring was going on, but considering he's already admitted to requesting that Iglesias be replaced BEFORE the phone call, and considering that the very act of calling a US Attorney and questioning them about a pending investigation is self-evidently pressure, I think the excuses made are pretty weak.

• Adding to the intrigue around Domenici, the Justice Department is admitting that the Senator called them on multiple occasions asking for Iglesias' ouster.

The Justice Department said Monday that Republican Sen. Pete Domenici called Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his deputy four times to complain about a U.S. attorney who claims he was fired for not rushing a corruption probe.

Domenici acknowledged Sunday that he contacted his state's prosecutor, U.S. attorney David Iglesias, in October 2006 to ask about his investigation into an alleged Democratic kickback scheme. But Domenici insists he never pressured or threatened Iglesias, though he said he had long sought Iglesias' ouster.

On Monday, Justice officials confirmed portions of that account, saying Domenici had called Gonzales on three occasions — September 2005, as well as in January and April 2006 — to question whether Iglesias was "up to the job."

In the first week of October 2006, Domenici then made another "similar and very brief call" to deputy attorney general Paul McNulty about the U.S. attorney's performance, said Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse.

This is the key point. Was that call to McNulty before or after the call between Domenici and Iglesias? If it's after, there's a clear intent and timeline there.

• Also in the AP article is this tidbit:

The department also said that Michael Battle — a senior Justice official who directed the Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys and who had personally informed the ousted U.S. attorneys of their removal — would leave his post March 16.

Heads are starting to roll. Maybe that's because even more US Attorneys are being subpoenaed to testify, and the information that will come out is going to be brutal.

This is all happening in anticipation of tomorrow's big day on Capitol Hill, when the prosecutors get their turn to speak. This is going to get a lot worse for Republicans before it gets better, particularly for Sen. Domenici and Rep. Wilson.

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