You can add Sen. Pete Domenici's (R-NM) name to the flurry of Justice Department officials who bowed out in the wake of the U.S. attorney firing scandal. The Washington Post reports
that he's expected to retire next November rather than seek reelection.
A brief walk down memory lane: in October of 2006, Domenici called
U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias to ask about whether an indictment against a prominent state Democrat on public corruption charges was forthcoming before the election. When Iglesias said no, "the line went dead."
After ducking questions about the first reports of the call this February, then saying
"I have no idea what he's talking about," he finally admitted that he'd made the call and said
he regretted it.
And not only did Domenici call to pressure Iglesias, he was also instrumental in his firing
, making calls not only to the Justice Department, but also to the White House
The only explanation offered for those complaints was a vague frustration that Iglesias didn't file enough cases -- a complaint that didn't hold up to scrutiny. Alberto Gonzales, in his Congressional testimony, got even more specific, saying that Domenici had complained about Iglesias' work on corruption cases, which seems closer to the truth.
Domenici's role was, and remains, the most damning evidence of a political motivation in the firings. And with the possibility of a full-blown ethics investigation looming large, Domenici has decided to move on.
It is, by our count, the ninth retirement or resignation related to the scandal.