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December's U.S. Attorney Massacre: The Plot Thickens

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Message Jesselyn Radack

Yesterday I wrote about the eight U.S. attorneys who have been summarily fired since December, and recommended that Congress subpoena them. Congress did exactly that. But here's the back story: Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.) were the ones who pressured ousted U.S. attorney David Iglesias to accelerate prosecution of Democrats before the election. Wilson herself was in a tight reelection battle herself with then-State Attorney General Patricia Madrid.

Yesterday I wrote about the eight U.S. attorneys who have been summarily fired since December: David Iglesias, Kevin Ryan, Bud Cummins, Margaret Chiara, Paul Charlton, Carol Lam, Daniel Bodgen and John McKay, and recommended that Congress subpoena them.

At least five of the fired U.S. attorneys were presiding over major public-corruption probes targeting Republican politicians or their supporters. They are predominantly from "blue states," a synecdoche for Democratic states, in the West and Southwest. And at least one is being replaced by a Republican political operative.

In yesterday's Washington Post,, Iglesias, the departing U.S. attorney in New Mexico for the past 5 years, spoke out about how two members of Congress tried to pressure him to accelerate a probe--stemming from allegations involving construction contracts and a prominent Democratic former state senator--just before the November elections. This was significant because it was the first time that one of the fired eight has so clearly articulated that political pressure related to an ongoing criminal investigation played a part in his dismissal.

But it gets even more interesting. It turns out that the Congresspeople who pressured Iglesias were none other than Republicans Senator Pete Domenici and Representative Heather Wilson. (Wilson herself was in a close reelection battle with then-state Attroney General Patricia Madrid, which Wilson won by the skin of her teeth.)

Representative Wilson and Senator Domenici have violated House and Senate ethics rules that restrict such ex parte communications during ongoing criminal investigations. For any of you who want to geek-out on the Senate Code of Conduct and Related laws, go to . http://ethics.senate.gove/.... More easily digestible "Highlights of the House Ethics Rules" can be found at They have also jeopardized a criminal investigation into the award of an $82 million contract.

Yesterday, after my piece ran saying that Congress needed to subpoena the fired U.S. Attorneys, a House subcommittee voted to compel testimony from four of the former U.S. attorneys, including Iglesias, who were part of "December's Massacre" by the Justice Department. The Senate Judiciary Committee announced plans for a similar hearing. Both hearings are to take place on Tuesday. So, here's what needs to happen next: Congress must compel Iglesias by subpoena to identify the lawmakers who pressured him. But more importantly, it needs to subpoena Domenici and Wilson for to testify about their host of legal and ethical violations.

Originally posted as a diary on daily kos: Jesselyn Radack's diary tags: John Conyers, house judiciary committee, Senate Judiciary Committee
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My name is Jesselyn Radack and I am the former Justice Department ethics attorney and whistleblower in the case of "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh. In today's issue of The National Law Journal (Feb. 19, 2007), I have an Op-Ed entitled (more...)
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