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A new statement out from Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM):

In his testimony today, Mr. Iglesias confirmed that our conversation was brief and that my words did not threaten him, nor did I direct him to take any course of action. While I recall, as I stated previously, that I asked Mr. Iglesias about timing of the investigation, neither I nor those who overheard my side of the brief conversation recall my mentioning the November election to him.

When I was first asked, in response to a chorus of questions, about whether I pressured or threatened Mr. Iglesias, I responded that I did not know what he was talking about. Today he testified that he “felt violated.” I still do not know what he is talking about. In his own testimony, Mr. Iglesias confirmed that nothing I actually said was threatening or directive. I did not pressure him. I asked him a timing question. He responded. I concluded the conversation.


You can watch Iglesias' testimony about Domenici's call here.

The House Judiciary's hearing just got started. You can listen to it on the House Judiciary's website.

As with the Senate hearing, I'll be posting rolling updates. The witness list is here. Most anticipated is the testimony of William E. Moschella, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General United States Department of Justice, and two other U.S. attorneys, Daniel Bogden of Nevada and Paul K. Charlton of Arizona.

Updates below the fold...

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During his questioning, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) asked all four prosecutors that if they were told by a witness in an ongoing invsetigation that he had received a call similar to the one Bud Cummins got from Michael Elston, the chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, what would they think? All four said that they would investigate to see whether obstruction of justice or witness tampering had occurred.

The video:

During her opening statement during this morning's hearing, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) revealed that the Justice Department had written to her last year and assured her that Carol Lam was doing a fine job prosecuting border cases -- even though they've said that the reason for Lam's firing was her poor performance on border cases.

From Feinstein's statement:

The Department has used the fact that I wrote a letter on June 15 to the Attorney General concerning the San Diego region, and in that I asked some questions: What are the guidelines for the U.S. Attorney Southern District of California? How do these guidelines differ from other border sections nationwide? I asked about immigration cases.

Here is the response that I got under cover of August 23, in a letter signed by Will Moschella. And I ask that both these letters be added to the record.

“That office [referring to Mrs. Lam’s office], is presently committing fully half of its Assistant U.S. Attorneys to prosecute criminal immigration cases. Prosecutions for alien smuggling in the Southern District under USC sections 1234 are rising sharply in Fiscal Year 2006. As of March 2006, the halfway point in the fiscal year, there were 342 alien smuggling cases filed in that jurisdiction. This compares favorable with the 484 alien smuggling prosecutions brought there during the entirety of Fiscal Year 2005.”

The letter goes on to essentially say that Mrs. Lam is cooperating; that they have reviewed it and the Department is satisfied.


Update: You can read the letter here.

More from today's hearing, where John McKay revealed that Rep. Doc Hastings' (R-WA) then chief of staff called Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay to inquire about whether the feds were investigating allegations of voter fraud in the 2004 Washington governor's race:

Here's testimony from U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins about his conversation with Michael Elston, the chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty:



And here's the email Bud Cummins sent to the other USAs outlining the conversation.

Tough Road Ahead For Domenici Having confirmed his role in applying political pressure on former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) is under investigation and will most likely face an ethics committee probe. In response, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Coryn (R-TX) have released a statement outlining the procedures for dealing with an ethics complaint against a member of the Senate. (The Politico)

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Act I of today's congressional hearing marathon on the administration's firing of federal prosecutors takes place in the Senate. Four of the prosecutors will be testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee: San Diego's Carol Lam, Seattle's John McKay, New Mexico's David Iglesias and Arkansas' Bud Cummins. The hearing has just started, and we'll be posting running updates.

For those readers who want to watch, the hearing is being broadcast on C-Span 3 and webcast on the Senate Judicary's website.

Update: The first revelation of the hearing comes from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who says that in August of last year, in response to her letter questioning U.S. Attorney Carol Lam's office's performance prosecuting immigration cases, she received a letter from the Justice Department supporting Lam, saying that the DoJ was "satisfied" with Lam's performance.

Update: David Iglesias just gave a devastating rendering of his conversation with Sen. Pete Domenici. We'll get the video up as soon as we can. Details here.

Update: Bud Cummins and John McKay just corroborated the McClatchy report that Michael Elston, the chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, communicated a threat to the USAs that if they continued to stir up controversy, more information would come out. Details and video soon. McKay called the call "hugely inappropriate." Bud Cummins has a copy of the email describing the call, which will be released as part of the hearing.

Update: John McKay also revealed that Rep. Doc Hastings' (R-WA) chief of staff called him to question him about an investigation. Details here.

Update: David Iglesias just recounted his conversation with Michael Battle, the DoJ official who recently resigned and who made the calls to fire the prosecutors on December 7th. Iglesias said that he asked Battle why he wasn being fired. Battle replied, according to Iglesias: "I don't know and I don't want to know. All I know is that this came from on high."

Update: Here's a copy of the email that U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins gave to the committee outlining his conversation wtih Michael Elston, the chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty.

Update: We've begun uploading video from the hearing. See here and here.

Update: Maybe the biggest bombshell during the hearing was admissions from Cummins, McKay and Iglesias that they would have opened an obstruction investigation based on the phone call to Cummins from Michael Elston, the chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, if they were still in office.

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