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DOJ to Release Long-Awaited Report on US Attorney Firings Monday

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Also published at my web magazine, The Public Record.

A long-awaited Justice Department report probing the firings of nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006 is expected to be released Monday morning, according to David Iglesias, the former New Mexico federal prosecutor who was one of those caught up in the purge.

Iglesias told The Public Record that he and the other U.S. Attorneys who were fired were contacted Friday by a Department of Justice official and told the report, which was written jointly by the agency’s Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility, the offices that conducted the investigation, will be posted on the Inspector General’s website Monday morning at around 10 AM EDT.

Iglesias said he was not given further information about the contents of the report, which will address how the Bush administration let politics influence prosecutorial judgments.

“The only thing they would say is that the report was "very long,” Iglesias told The Public Record.
The report, the latest installment in a wide-ranging investigation by the DOJ’s Inspector General into the politicization of the agency, could very well be damaging for former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and his former deputy, Paul McNulty and could set the stage for criminal charges.

In an interview in August, Iglesias said he believes DOJ Inspector General Glenn Fine will recommend that Attorney General Michael Mukasey appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Gonzales, McNulty and others for perjury, obstruction of justice and possibly other crimes related to the firings.

However, given Mukasey’s unwillingness to pursue past crimes that implicate the Bush administration, Iglesias said accountability for Gonzales and others may have to wait until a new President takes office.

For a year, Fine’s IG office has been investigating whether the prosecutor firings were improper, what role Gonzales played in the firings, and if he tried to influence the congressional testimony of one of his aides.

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“Here’s how I think that will go down,” Iglesias said in the August interview “The IG will find enough evidence to refer the matter to a special prosecutor. There will be more than enough evidence to make that recommendation.”

Fine's office released a report over the summer into the hiring practices at the Justice Department and discovered that senior officials used illegal political litmus tests in the hiring of professional prosecutors and judges, but Fine’s report did not implicate Gonzales.

Law Review Article

John McKay, the former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington who was another one of the fired prosecutors, argued in a law review article earlier this year that if Fine determines federal laws were broken a special prosecutor should be appointed.

McKay wrote that Gonzales may have obstructed justice and that McNulty may have lied to Congress. McKay said the situation around Iglesias’s firing could lead to "criminal charges" against Gonzales and McNulty "for impeding justice" because of alleged political pressure placed on Iglesias to bring criminal charges.

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In congressional testimony, Iglesias said he received telephone calls from New Mexico's Republican Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson before the 2006 elections inquiring about the timing of a possible corruption indictment against a Democratic official in the state.

Iglesias told Domenici and Wilson that he could not discuss the issue of indictments with them. A couple of weeks later, Iglesias's name was added to a list of U.S. Attorneys selected for termination.

McKay wrote that when Gonzales testified before Congress about Iglesias he said "he took multiple phone calls from Domenici concerning [Iglesias], urging that he be replaced, and has admitted that [President George W. Bush] spoke with him about the 'problems' with Iglesias.”

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Jason Leopold is Deputy Managing Editor of Truthout.org and the founding editor of the online investigative news magazine The Public Record, http://www.pubrecord.org. He is the author of the National Bestseller, "News Junkie," a memoir. Visit (more...)
 

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