It's hard to think back to that time when it was arguable that administration officials were telling the truth when they protested that the U.S. attorneys had been fired for "performance" reasons.
That seems pretty much resolved now. All of the main players: Alberto Gonzales, his deputy Paul McNulty, Kyle Sampson, Monica Goodling, Sarah Taylor, et al. are all gone. But before it all went kablooey, before the firings even became public, former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias says that he learned what it eventually took a raging scandal to publicly reveal.
The disclosure comes from Iglesias' book, "In Justice," which is due out in June. In the passage, the details of which were first reported
last night by McClatchy, Iglesias writes of a conversation he had with U.S. Attorney for San Antonio Johnny Sutton shortly after he'd been asked to resign. Iglesias thought that Sutton, a longtime friend of Bush's who was the chairman of the committee of U.S. attorneys that advised the attorney general, could help him out. It turned out, no. Here it is:
âIâve got a sense this is a done deal, David,â he flatly told me after listening to my story.
âBased on what?â I asked, swallowing hard. Maybe I should have just hung up then. It was clear from the guarded tone of his voice that he wouldnât, or couldnât, help me.
âLook,â he said, in the same matter-of-fact manner. âIâve been around awhile. This is political. If I were you, Iâd just go quietly.â
I couldn't believe what I was hearing: a U.S. Attorney all but admitting that a colleague was being hung out to dry for reasons that had nothing to do with performance or professionalism. âHow do you know?â was all I could ask.
There was long silence on the other end. âI saw your name,â he said at last, in a barely audible voice.
It took a minute for the implications to sink in. âWhere?â I finally asked. âYou mean, thereâs some sort of list?â
âI canât speak to that,â he answered blandly, and I knew, at that moment, that it was useless to continue.
It's not clear, exactly, what Sutton meant, and his office didn't return our call. At the very least, he meant that it wasn't worth Iglesias trying to contest the firing on the merits, since there weren't any (despite what Justice Department officials later told Congress).
We'll have more later from the book.