Saturday, March 08, 2008
Iglesias' Coming Book: Pressure from NM Repubs and All Roads Lead to Rove
The issue of inappropriate and probably illegal political pressures placed on New Mexico's former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias by Rep. Heather Wilson (R, NM-01), NM Sen. Pete Domenici and other New Mexico Republicans is back in the news. Dahlia Lithwick at Slate discusses what we've learned about the U.S. Attorney firing scandal and comments on a draft of a new book by David Iglesias to be published in June. Excerpt:
Iglesias emphasizes the extent of the political pressures placed on him to bring indictments that would influence the midterm elections and illuminates the obsessive campaign by New Mexico Republicans to force him into unearthing and prosecuting Democratic vote fraud, even when he'd determined that there was none to be found. He details the phone calls received from Rep. Wilson and Sen. Domenici. And he describes what it was like to be a man with sterling performance reviews suddenly drop-kicked onto "the list" as a result of political complaints about his unwillingness to play ball. [emphasis mine]
Given the documented involvement of NM GOP operatives, Domenici and Wison in the shady, Rovian maneuverings to politicize the U.S. Justice Department and cast out ethical U.S. Attorneys, is it any wonder that most thinking people believe it's a story when fellow Repubs accuse Wilson's campaign of paying for votes at local GOP delegate conventions?
In his forthcoming book about the scandal, In Justice, co-written with Davin Seay, Iglesias attempts to puzzle out who did him in and why. Like another purged colleague, former U.S. Attorney John McKay from Washington's Western District, who has recently written a long law review article about the firings, Iglesias is persuaded that the nameless, faceless folks who engineered the firings were engaged in serious, if not criminal, wrongdoing. And although the evidence is, he concedes, still mostly circumstantial, one of his chapter titles is "All Roads Lead to Rove." The mild-mannered McKay, for his part, argues for bringing obstruction of justice charges against Gonzales.
What most shines through in the draft copy of Iglesias' manuscript, provided to Slate by the author, are the raw politics animating both his dismissal and the subsequent cover-up. Indeed Iglesias describes that at his very first meeting with then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales in 2001, which took place shortly after he became a U.S. attorney, Gonzales offered him the following warning: "This is a tough town. They are out to destroy the president, and it is my job to protect him."
Iglesias, whose book will be published in June, writes that immediately after receiving the news of his dismissal in December 2006, he put in a desperate call to another U.S. attorney from Texas' Western District, Bush protégée Johnny Sutton. According to Iglesias, Sutton immediately warned him that the firing was a "done deal" and that "[T]his is political. If I were you, I'd just go quietly." When Iglesias, still unaware that this had been a mass firing and ignorant of the basis for his dismissal, pushed Sutton to explain how he knew it was "political," Sutton replied, "I saw your name."