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Did Rove Want Wisconsin U.S.A. on Purge List?

Come October, the issue was still burning in Rove's mind. And so that month, both President Bush and Karl Rove passed along complaints about Biskupic's pursuit of voter fraud. Those complaints might very well have put Biskupic on the list of U.S. attorneys to be fired.

Let's look at Bush's complaints. Both White House counselor Dan Bartlett and White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said last month that the White House's legislative affairs, political affairs and chief of staff's office had received complaints "from a variety of sources about the lack of vigorous prosecution of election fraud cases in various locations, including Philadelphia, Milwaukee and New Mexico." The complaints, she said, were passed on to the Justice Department or White House counsel Harriet Miers. And the president himself, she said, had a conversation with attorney general Alberto Gonzales about it in October of 2006.

Here's how Bartlett described the conversation:

The President did that briefly, in a conversation he had with the Attorney General in October of 2006, in which, in a wide-ranging conversation on a lot of different issues, this briefly came up and the President said, I've been hearing about this election fraud matters from members of Congress, want to make sure you're on top of that, as well. There was no directive given, as far as telling him to fire anybody or anything like that.

Karl Rove had a similar conversation with Gonzales at about the same time. According to Kyle Sampson's testimony, Rove had complained to Gonzales "about U.S. attorneys in three jurisdictions, including New Mexico, and the substance of the complaint was that those U.S. attorneys weren't pursuing voter fraud cases aggressively enough."

Sampson did not say in his testimony what those other jurisdictions were, but it's apparent from Bartlett's comments and Justice Department documents what they must be.

Take, for instance, that printout from Rove's computer and the dossier on Wisconsin voter fraud that had been sent to Rove. How did they end up at the Justice Department (they were, remember, turned over as part of the Justice Department's document production)?

Well, it looks like Rove sent it over in an envelope addressed to Kyle Sampson. On the envelope is the handwritten date October 17, 2006.

That would seem to be a significant date. In his testimony, Sampson said that "sometime after October 17th but before November 7th," the department "went back" and looked at the list of U.S. attorneys to be fired and " asked the question: 'Is there anyone else who should be added?'"

Four names "came forward," according to Sampson. All of them were "close cases," because "they weren't specific policy conflicts or significant management challenges." One of them was Iglesias'. Sampson would not say during his testimony who the other three were, saying that he "was not a hundred percent sure" that he remembered.

But think about it. On October 17th, or thereabouts, Rove sent over a dossier on Biskupic, just as the department renewed their effort to find U.S. attorneys to fire. And Bush was complaining about Biskupic too.

Only there was something that saved Biskupic in the end. Iglesias, Sampson said, "remained on the list because nobody suggested that he come off."

So who suggested that Biskupic come off -- and why? Does it, for instance, have anything to do with his office's aggressive pursuit of Wisconsin's Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle?

Note: Biskupic's task force pursued a range of cases -- eighteen prosecutions total. The US Attorney's office prosecuted fourteen individuals. Four were indicted on charges of double voting, all of whom were either acquitted or had charges dismissed. Eight felons were indicted for unlawfully voting. Five of these individuals were eventually acquitted; the others were convicted and sentenced to punishments ranging from fines to probation. In addition, two former felons serving as poll workers were prosecuted for unlawfully voting. Both men received short jail sentences. The office of the District Attorney confirmed their successful prosecution of two individuals who falsified registration cards. Finally, the Journal Sentinel has reported that the District Attorney prosecuted two additional cases of illegal voting by felons.

Will Thomas contributed reporting to this piece.