The firing of U.S. Attorney for New Mexico David Iglesias continues to smoke.
There's a lot that's new in this piece
today in The Albuquerque Journal
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 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 Officeâ 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.
The conversation between Bush and Domenici occurred sometime after the election but before the firings of Iglesias and six other U.S. attorneys were announced on Dec. 7.
Iglesias' name first showed up on a Nov. 15 list of federal prosecutors who would be asked to resign. It was not on a similar list prepared in October.
The Journal confirmed the sequence of events through a variety of sources familiar with the firing of Iglesias, including sources close to Domenici. The senator's office declined comment.
A couple things. The Journal story refers to Domenici's concern over Iglesias' performance prosecuting "white-collar crime." Was Domenici overwrought about corporate malfeasance? No -- it's a way of referring to public corruption cases, specifically two high-profile corruption cases Iglesias handled against New Mexico Democrats.
After Iglesias didn't jump fast enough with regard to the first case, an investigation into the Democratic state treasurer that dated back to 2005, Domenici's patience was apparently far too thin for the slow pace of the second investigation -- a kickback probe into New Mexico Democrat Manny Aragon.
The timeline couldn't be more damning. Sen. Domenici made the now infamous phone call
to Iglesias on October 27. According to Iglesias' version of the conversation, Domenici asked him if an indictment would be filed against Aragon "before November?" When Iglesias said no, Domenici replied, "I'm very sorry to hear that," and then hung up.
According to the Journal story, Domenici made his move to get Iglesias fired -- a call to Karl Rove -- as soon as the election was over just a few weeks later.
Now, there's another level to this. According to earlier statements
from the White House and Kyle Sampson's testimony, Bush and Rove had already complained to Gonzales about Iglesias when Domenici called in November. Those complaints had to do with Iglesias' insufficiently aggressive pursuit of (Democratic) voter fraud, and they were made -- by President Bush and Karl Rove -- in mid-October.
So we have two different streams of complaints from the White House -- the first in October about voter fraud and then another in November, stemming from Domenici's concern at Iglesias' failure to move certain cases
. Of course, both of them at their base were about Iglesias' failure to prosecute enough Democrats.