Patterico's Pontifications

4/15/2007

Iglesias Timing: More Suspicious Than Ever

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 8:37 pm



I have said that I believe there is scant evidence that the Bush Administration fired any U.S. Attorney because of their failure to prosecute Democrats, or their successful prosecution of Republicans.

I’m not so sure I still think that.

I have said before — in a post studiously ignored by those determined to unfairly portray me as one-sidedly defending the Administration — that the timing of the David Iglesias firing is among the most troubling aspects of the firings of the eight U.S. Attorneys:

It looks horrible for Pete Domenici to have called up David Iglesias about a pending case. . . . Add to the list of suspicious items the timing of Iglesias’s inclusion on the firing list.

It looks even more suspicious today:

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 [Albuquerque] 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.

The senior senator from New Mexico had listened to criticism of Iglesias going back to 2003 from sources ranging from law enforcement officials to Republican Party activists.

Domenici, who submitted Iglesias’ name for the job and guided him through the confirmation process in 2001, had tried at various times to get more white-collar crime help for the U.S. Attorney’s Office— even if Iglesias didn’t want it.

At one point, the six-term Republican senator tried to get Iglesias moved to a Justice Department post in Washington, D.C., but Iglesias told Justice officials he wasn’t interested.

In the spring of 2006, Domenici told Gonzales he wanted Iglesias out.

Gonzales refused. He told Domenici he would fire Iglesias only on orders from the president.

At some point after the election last Nov. 6, Domenici called Bush’s senior political adviser, Karl Rove, and told him he wanted Iglesias out and asked Rove to take his request directly to the president.

Domenici and Bush subsequently had a telephone conversation about the issue.

Ouch. Not good. Here’s the timeline, which I extrapolated from the reporting in the linked article:

  • October 2006: A list is prepared. Iglesias’s name is not on it.
  • October 27, 2006: Domenici makes an improper phone call to Iglesias about prosecutions of Democrats. Iglesias says no indictments will happen before the election.
  • November 6, 2006: the election.
  • Between November 6 and December 7, 2006: Domenici complains to Bush about Iglesias.
  • November 15, 2006: Iglesias’s name appears on a list of people to be fired.
  • December 7, 2006: Iglesias is fired.

I don’t see any evidence of anything else that would suddenly result in Iglesias’s name being put on the list.

Combine this with a couple of other pieces of circumstantial evidence. First, recall Kyle Sampson’s admission that he proposed putting Patrick Fitzgerald on the list. That was a virtual admission that Sampson considered naked politics in putting together the list. I considered that the news of the day when it came out. Second, we have Alberto Gonzales’s recent re-confirmations that he delegated the bulk of the decisionmaking on this critical task to the weaselly Sampson — who not only considered firing Fitzgerald, but whom I also excoriated for scheming to lie to Congress about the temporary nature of Tim Griffin’s appointment.

Plus: another day, another complaint that Alberto Gonzales politicized the Justice Department. (H/t semanticleo.)

I said last month that Gonzales should quit. Unfortunately, President Bush didn’t accept my sage advice, and I predict Gonzales is going to embarrass himself badly in Tuesday’s hearings. He is a weak man: not terribly bright, and a terrible manager. (I’m glad I strongly opposed the idea of his becoming a Supreme Court Justice!) Watching these hearings is going to be excruciatingly painful for Gonzales defenders and die-hard Republicans.

This is not to say that every punch Democrats have tried to land is a valid one. Based on what I’ve seen, the flap over Carol Lam is demonstrably silly and doesn’t fit the Democrats’ timeline. The same goes for the Biskupic affair, based upon available evidence.

But you know what? I have absolutely no faith that Gonzales is going to make the case — even on slam-dunk issues such as Lam and Biskupic. Because he just ain’t that bright — and because he has no fire in his belly. I can even see him sitting still for Senator Chuckie S. lecturing him about how improper it was for Pete Domenici to contact a prosecutor about an ongoing investigation — and not bothering to throw it in Senator Schumer’s face that Schumer did the exact same thing to Deputy Attorney General James Comey with respect to the Plame investigation.

(One wrong doesn’t excuse another — but it’s unconscionable for Schumer to be the guy pontificating about this . . . and it will be inexcusable for Gonzales to let him. But mark my words: he will. And no other Big Media outlet will talk about it. I wrote the L.A. Times about this on April 2, and nobody has had even the courtesy to send me an e-mail in response.)

Basically, it’s going to be pathetic to watch Gonzales try to defend these decisions — and in the case of Iglesias, it’s looking more and more like the decision was indefensible.

16 Responses to “Iglesias Timing: More Suspicious Than Ever”

  1. (Correction: your last item in the list has Domenici being fired rather than Iglesias)

    Daryl Herbert (4ecd4c)

  2. 1. Check that December 7, 2006 entry again, fine host. Domeneci’s still around, I’m afraid.

    2. I’m not as convinced that Gonzales lacks belly-fire or intelligence. But competence, yeah, he ain’t got none of that. “Lying to cover up laziness” is my theory. When that’s the *nice* theory propounded about your behavior, you’ve screwed up.

    3. George, Alberto, just make it stop. I have a little more optimism than Pat does on how bad Gonzales will do, but it’s either going to be bad or worse. There isn’t any innocent explanation left for a lot of this.

    4. This whole thing is amazing to watch. When one pines for Ed Meese, things have gone very, very wrong.

    –JRM

    JRM (355c21)

  3. 1. Thank you. Silly error fixed.

    Patterico (5b0b7f)

  4. Help me out here… if Domenici’s overtures were improper, then shouldn’t he be the one in hot water, not Gonzales?

    And the issue with Iglesias’ dismissal was what exactly? Did his his firing derail probes into Republican malfeasance, as was alleged re: Lam and others?

    DubiousD (08930a)

  5. i don’t think the schumer interference is as bad as the domenici interference. domenici wanted somebody prosecuted in time for the election, so his party could gain an advantage in new mexico. plamegate was a matter of legitimate national interest, after an administration with a history of rogue, criminal behavior had apparently outed an undercover cia agent in retaliation for her husband’s statements. one measure of the propriety of an act is the power of the adversary; it may be unconscionable to use the u.s. attorney’s office against an ordinary citizen for political advantage, but against a presidential administration, anything not specifically prohibited by law is permissible.

    assistant devil's advocate (d77ebe)

  6. i don’t think the schumer interference is as bad as the domenici interference. domenici wanted somebody prosecuted in time for the election, so his party could gain an advantage in new mexico.

    If that is the case, he still didn’t do anything about it until after the election.

    plamegate was a matter of legitimate national interest, after an administration with a history of rogue, criminal behavior had apparently outed an undercover cia agent in retaliation for her husband’s statements.

    AHAHAHAHAHAHAA! HAHAHAHAHA!! Do you mean Richard Armitage, ada?

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  7. The senior senator from New Mexico had listened to criticism of Iglesias going back to 2003 from sources ranging from law enforcement officials to Republican Party activists.

    Sounds like an ongoing problem Dominici was having with Iglesias. Not new with this particular case. If I wanted to spin, I would say Democrats are trying to keep this particular case from being prosecuted.
    I won’t say that, though. I’ll just say what do we know about Iglesias that makes us think he should have been fire-proof? His own Senator was unhappy with him for years.

    Gonzales refused. He told Domenici he would fire Iglesias only on orders from the president.

    Only the President can fire a USA.

    MayBee (eb1824)

  8. Shouldn’t we know if Domenici had spoken to Iglesias before?

    from the article:

    According to Justice Department memos turned over to congressional investigators, Domenici approached Iglesias in late 2005 and asked if he needed additional prosecutors for corruption cases. Iglesias, according to the memo, told Domenici he didn’t need white-collar crime prosecutors.

    So they’d communicated before, Iglesias and Domenici. The 2006 phone call wasn’t their first direct (and contentious) communication.

    At one point, the six-term Republican senator tried to get Iglesias moved to a Justice Department post in Washington, D.C., but Iglesias told Justice officials he wasn’t interested.

    It was a long-running dispute between them, and it sounds as if Domenici had long been trying to get rid of Iglesias. Eventually, there was going to be the event which happened before Iglesias was fired, though it certainly doesn’t sound to me like Domenici waited for this one thing to try to get Iglesias fired.
    So why should Bush/Gonzales not listen to Domenici about his years-long issue with the USA?

    MayBee (eb1824)

  9. Please help me out, I’m genuinely interested and confused. The U.S. Attorney is a political appointment, and deference is normally given to the senator(s) of the state. Mr. Domenici, who was apparently responsible for the political appointment of Mr. Iglesias, became increasingly unhappy with his results and therefore lobbied the president for his firing. The president, who has the authority and responsibility to fire his political appointments, evidently deferred to Mr. Domenici again and instructed the attorney general to get rid of Mr. Iglesias.

    I will stipulate that the Senator was wrong to contact Mr. Iglesias directly, but do we know that the president or the Attorney General knew that this had occurred?

    I will also stipulate that the Attorney General and his staff have handled this very poorly.

    Please explain to me why the actual firing is such a scandal? I simply don’t understand what the president, or even the AG, for that matter, did wrong in the firing of Mr. Iglesias. The Senator, yes, and the AG in the aftermath, yes. But isn’t a political appointee fired for not pleasing the appointer a fairly mundane event?

    TB (8ba5b6)

  10. I will stipulate that the Senator was wrong to contact Mr. Iglesias directly

    I don’t think that’s even the case, and as Patterico noted in the post, Schumer doesn’t have much room to complain. Congress does oversight, let’s remember, and a Senator sticking his nose in to the workings of the Federal Government in his state is not the least bit uncommon. In fact, it’s part of the job of representing his constituents.

    Where is it written that a Senator shouldn’t discuss anything he pleases with a US Attorney? I’m guessing that it’s the same place it’s written that a President can’t fire a US Attorney for any reason he chooses: in the Democrat talking points list, under “Rules When the Officeholder is a Republican”

    Pablo (08e1e8)

  11. Was it wrong for Domenici to contact Iglesias in 2005?
    Was it wrong for Domenici to try to get him a position in the DoJ?

    MayBee (2f3071)

  12. 9/TB:

    No, you’ve got it right. The firing isn’t the scandal; the lies by Gonzales and his staff are.

    Even if handled marginally competently, these firings would have resulted in only a little blowback. They weren’t.

    –JRM

    JRM (355c21)

  13. The firing isn’t the scandal; the lies by Gonzales and his staff are.

    I just can’t imagine that they might have lied to cover up something even more embarrassing.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (fa5cc6)

  14. It’s clearly a huge coverup here. The Bushies fired Iglesias after the election in an effort to get him to retroactively prosecute democrat organizers for vote fraud, real or imagined, occurring prior to the election, thereby tipping it in favor of Republicans.

    Presumably, Kyl Sampson would have used the same time machine he used when firing Carol Lam two months after the election, in order to get her to do something to retroactively undo the conviction and scandal relating to Duke Cunningham, which occurred in another federal district. It’s probably the same time machine they used after the 2008 election, when Dennis Kucinich won, to get John Kerry to announce today that he’s thinking about running for President. Y’know, to split the lunatic vote, which apparently is approaching 50% of the entire country these days.

    I’ve said all along that the proper stance for the Adminstration to take in the Schumer star chamber hearings is an attitude of mock horror, followed by a pledge to ensure US Attorney hirings, firings and operations are insulated from Senate influence. I’d even whip out a 5 or 6 page draft bill making it illegal to attempt to exert political influence on U.S. Attorneys or any other federal investigative arm, and dare Schumer to refuse it.

    Yeah, we’ve got nothing better to do in this country than this crap.

    Al Maviva (89d0b6)

  15. Pat;

    Much as I’d like to take credit for discovering the Law.com story, it was TPM. My admiration for our host increases in proportion to the honesty he continues to reveal.

    MayBee;

    “Only the President can fire a USA.”

    Bingo!!!

    semanticleo (2f60f4)

  16. […] I had made in the spring: I found the timing of the addition of David Iglesias to the list to be highly suspicious. It certainly raised concerns that Kyle Sampson had proposed to lie to Congress about Bud Cummins. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » That Report on the U.S. Attorneys (b16ea8)


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