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

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Iglesiasgate: Wilson and Domenici Fingered

Iglesias-gate just got a little hotter.

Via TPM Muckraker, US Attorney David Iglesias, who was fired by the Justice Department in their purge of prosecutors, essentially fingered the members of Congress who called him and pressured him to indict a Democratic former state Senator before Election Day 2006. Until these comments, Iglesias was careful to say "members of Congress" pushed for the indictment, but gave no details. But now he has pretty much acknowledged that it was Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson, which makes perfect sense.

U.S. Attorney David Iglesias on Wednesday blamed his firing on failure by his office to bring indictments in the courthouse investigation before the November elections, saying he felt that two members of Congress pressured him to do so.

After his final news conference as U.S. attorney, he confirmed to the Journal that two members of the New Mexico delegation contacted him before the election and asked when indictments would be handed up by a federal grand jury.

Iglesias said he assumes that the members of the delegation were unhappy and complained to the White House, which led to his firing.

This is the first indication that the two members of Congress were definitively from the New Mexico delegation. There are only five members of Congress from New Mexico, and two of them are Democrats. Rep. Steve Pearce's office has officially denied involvement. That leaves Domenici and Wilson, who have both refused to answer any questions on the subject. So there you go.

We all remember that Wilson was in a tough re-election fight last year against former state Attorney General Patricia Madrid, and we remember that a central issue of the race was Madrid's alleged lax attitutde toward state corruption. If the US Attorney would bring an indictment against a former state Senator right in the middle of the campaign, it would further emphasize this point and embarrass Madrid. The senior Republican official in the state is Sen. Domenici, so his involement wouldn't surprise anyone either, especially considering his trying to help save his fellow incumbent.

This is kind of a big deal. We have two members of Congress who are using their position to tamper with a federal investigation, and additionally threatening the livelihood of a federal prosecutor. IANAL, but this seems to me to be a classic obstruction of justice crime. You also have the involvement of the executive branch, who ultimately has the power to hire and fire the US Attorneys, so there needed to be some communication between the offices of Wilson and Domenici and someone either at the DoJ or the White House political shop. AND, Justice Department officials like Paul McNulty LIED TO CONGRESS about why Iglesias and the other prosecutors were fired, citing performance reviews when the reviews themselves give Iglesias high marks for his official conduct.

Pass the popcorn. This one is getting veerrry interesting. And the implications for 2008 are enormous.

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