The IG report released today provides new details on the White House's involvement in the firings of U.S. attorneys, especially the administration's involvement in the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.
Prior to Iglesias' removal
on Dec. 7, 2006, New Mexico GOP Sen. Pete Domenici had already made multiple complaints
to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about Iglesias. In addition, Mickey Barnett, a former GOP New Mexico state senator and a prominent lawyer, had met in Washington with DOJ White House Liason Monica Goodling to discuss his problems with Iglesias' handling of voter fraud cases.
But emails disclosed in the recently released IG report
between Barnett, Domenici and White House political operative Karl Rove reveal that the complaints against Iglesias went beyond talks with the Justice Department, and that the White House was aware and involved in the removal of Iglesias from his post as U.S. attorney.
According to today's report, on October 2, 2006, Barnett e-mailed Karl Rove an article from a local paper expressing frustrations with the apparently stalled investigation into bribery of Democratic state Sen. Manny Aragon (NM).
In the email, Barnett blamed Iglesias' office for delaying the case against the Democratic lawmaker, something he had spoken to Goodling, Rove and Domenici about before, according to conversations detailed in the report. Specifically, Barnett and Rove had previously discussed "kick[ing Iglesias]. . . upstairs" as a way to get rid of him.
The October 2 email from Barnett to Rove again mentions the possibility of a "promotion" for Iglesias, and their face to face discussion of it the weekend before at a Republican fundraiser in New Mexico.
From page 173 of the report:
This article confirms what I mentioned Saturday. An FBI agent told me more than six months ago that their investigation was done and been turned over to the US Attorney a long time ago. He said agents were totally frustrated with some even trying to get out
of New Mexico. I can put you or anyone you designate with lawyers knowledgeable about the US Atty office - including lawyers in the office - that will show how poorly it is being run.
Scott Jennings was kind enough to set up an appointment at the Justice Department several months ago where Pat Rogers and I laid all this out. I hope Justice can now be persuaded to send out some cracker jack prosecutor and perhaps promote Iglesias to a Justice department position.
We still await the results of the task force Iglesias convened about this time two years ago on the clear Acorn fraudulent voter registrations. We were told it would look to [sic] "political" to indict anyone that close to the election. Then we never heard anything else
Just a few weeks after Barnett's email, Domenici's chief of staff Steve Bell emailed Rove on Nov. 7, 2006, the day of mid-term Congressional elections complaining about ballot problems in a New Mexico precinct. Bell closed the email with the statement, "We worry about the USA here."
Rove responded just 32 minutes later stating, "I'd have the Senator call the Attorney General about this."
Exactly one month later, Iglesias was fired.