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Bush's Key Role Revealed in Iglesias Firing

April 15, 2007

On Sunday, the Albuquerque Journal published an explosive article detailing the critical roles of President Bush, Karl Rove and New Mexico Senator Pete in the sacking of U.S. attorney David Iglesias. Alberto Gonzales' apparent opposition to Iglesias' ouster and the timeline of events leading up to it suggest President Bush was being less than truthful about his own role in the prosecutor purge.
Back on March 13, President Bush brushed aside questions about the exploding scandal and the possibility of his own heavy hand in it:

"I've heard those allegations about, you know, political decision-making. It's just not true. What the Justice Department did was appropriate ... What was mishandled was the explanation.
"I never brought up a specific case nor gave him [Alberto Gonzales] specific instructions. When members of the Senate come up and say to me, `I've got a complaint,' I think it's entirely appropriate and necessary for me to pass those complaints on."

President Bush reiterated his description of his own passive role a week later on March 20th:

"It is common for me, members of my staff, and the Justice Department to receive complaints from members of Congress in both parties, and from other citizens. And we did hear complaints and concerns about U.S. attorneys. Some complained about the lack of vigorous prosecution of election fraud cases, while others had concerns about immigration cases not being prosecuted. These concerns are often shared between the White House and the Justice Department, and that is completely appropriate."

But the revelations in today's Albquerque Journal piece paint a far different picture. Despite White House spokesman Dan Bartlett's March 14 assertion that "there was no directive given, as far as telling him (Gonzales) to fire anybody or anything like that," the Journal describes the President's essential role. A frustrated Domenici went to Gonzales to pursuer Iglesias' removal for his supposed failure to bring indictments against New Mexico Democrats in advance of the 2006 mid-term elections. When Gonzales refused, Domenici went over his head to President Bush:

In the spring of 2006, Domenici told Gonzales he wanted Iglesias out.
Gonzales refused. He told Domenici he would fire Iglesias only on orders from the president.
At some point after the election last Nov. 6, Domenici called Bush's senior political adviser, Karl Rove, and told him he wanted Iglesias out and asked Rove to take his request directly to the president.
Domenici and Bush subsequently had a telephone conversation about the issue.
The conversation between Bush and Domenici occurred sometime after the election but before the firings of Iglesias and six other U.S. attorneys were announced on Dec. 7.

The importance of Bush's role in reflected in the unfolding timeline of the prosecutor purge. Igelisias' name did not appear on a list of targeted prosecutors prepared in October. But by November 15th, 2006, Iglesias does appear on the list of those USAs to be sacked. On December 7, he was among those notified of their termination. As the Albuquerque Journal suggests, President Bush's intervention in early November is the likely explanation for Iglesias' changed fate.
To access the AB piece and all the latest news, email archives, document dumps and other essential materials in the Bush DOJ U.S. attorneys purge, visit the Perrspectives U.S. Attorneys Scandal Documents Center.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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