On any other day, the House and Senate hearings on the firing of eight former U.S. Attorneys would be huge news of the best "the Bush administration may be held to account" kind. On the day Scooter Libby was convicted on four of five counts, it's just icing on the cake. But it's good icing.
After filing an ethics complaint against Senator Pete Domenici yesterday, CREW did the same to Representative Heather Wilson today, following her admission that she, too, had called David Iglesias. Meanwhile, TPM Muckraker has been following the Senate and House hearings. Two of their chosen highlights of the Senate hearings were
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: 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.
Iglesias' testimony is making the traditional media headlines - in particular his descriptions of feeling both "sick" and "leaned on" after Domenici's call. The Albuquerque Tribune coverage develops the timeline: Wilson called Iglesias around October 16, Domenici called about two weeks later, and Iglesias was asked to resign six weeks after that. Wilson's motives in calling were, of course, pure.
In her initial statement, Wilson said a constituent, whom she did not identify, said, "Iglesias was intentionally delaying corruption investigations." She also said she wanted to help Iglesias.
"If the purpose of my call has somehow been misperceived, I am sorry for any confusion. I thought it was important for Mr. Iglesias to receive this information and if necessary, have the opportunity to clear his name," she said.
How could Iglesias have "cleared his name" in this matter? By not delaying a corruption investigation any further, it would seem. An investigation of a Democrat, leading, presumably, to indictment before November 7 if Iglesias really wanted that clear name. Not that she was pressuring him or anything. The importance of the timing with regard to the elections was also clear in his description of Domenici's call:
"He said, 'Are these going to be filed before November?'" former federal prosecutor David Iglesias, one of eight U.S. attorneys summarily fired in recent months, told the panel. "I said I didn't think so. And to which he replied, 'I'm very sorry to hear that.' And then the line went dead."
Asked why he didn't report the calls immediately
Iglesias responded that he did not do so because he felt loyalty to Domenici as a mentor and Wilson as a "friend and ally."
But he changed his mind about going public in mid-January, he said.
"Loyalty is a two-way street," he said. "I think they (Domenici and Wilson) were behind me being asked to resign."
It really is stunning how many people, and in particular how many formerly loyal Republicans, have been turned on by the Bush administration at the slightest sign that they place integrity or professionalism over obedience to the administration's political dictates.