Ethics complaint filed against Domenici; fired attorneys to testify tomorrow

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Talking Points Memo has some excellent analysis of the ins and outs of the Iglesias story:

One thing you can say about the US Attorney scandal is that it just draws folks with bad luck to it like moths to a flame. First you’ve got the White House, not knowing Iglesias had been jacked up by state Republicans for not indicting that Democrat before the election when they went ahead and fired him for completely unrelated reasons.

And then you’ve got Domenici having this lapse of judgment calling Iglesias when he was trying to get him fired for completely unrelated reasons. With luck this bad you can imagine a lot of other really unfortunate coincidences cropping up over the coming days and weeks.

He goes a bit further into Domenici’s role in the scandal:

Now, if I’m reading this right, Sen. Domenici is saying that Administration Story #1 — poor performance on the job — actually is the reason that Iglesias got canned. He doesn’t allege any policy differences, any deprioritization of immigration or drug arrests. Iglesias just couldn’t get the job done, even as Domenici was getting more federal dollars for justice in New Mexico.

So Domenici and the administration can’t even get their explanations straight. Or maybe Domenici is just having a hard time keeping up with the pace of the story since ‘poor performance’ on the job went down the memory hole a few weeks ago.

The question of performance has been one I’ve mentioned before, two weeks ago. Domenici may indeed be behind the times. This lies at the heart of the story: why were so many of these Attorneys fired all at once. And why weren’t they given an explanation?

So, we know the stories about the firings don’t necessarily add up, but Josh takes a stab at one more aspect of the scandal:

Sen. Domenici (R-NM) and the political appointees at the Justice Department have strong motivations for supporting each others claims about management shortcomings during Mr. Iglesias’s tenure — despite the fact that there appears to be little if any evidence for this prior to Iglesias’s ouster. Domenici has already if not lied then intentionally misled the public about his contacts with Iglesias. Remember, when first asked about Iglesias’s claims about calls to his office from members of the New Mexico delegation, Domenici said “I have no idea what he’s talking about.” It’s only by the most generous and clement interpretation that that statement doesn’t peg Domenici as a liar. So he’s already misled the public and taken an action which even by the most innocent reading appears to violate congressional ethics rules. He doesn’t have much credibility.
(emphasis mine)

Oh, and about those charges of ethics violations:

Today Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate whether Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) violated Senate Rules by contacting the U.S. Attorney in Albuquerque, New Mexico, David C. Iglesias, and pressuring him about an ongoing corruption probe.

Sen. Domenici has acknowledged that he contacted Mr. Iglesias to inquire about an ongoing corruption probe of Democrats. Mr. Iglesias previously stated that in mid-October, he was pressured about the pace of the investigation by two New Mexico lawmakers. Initially, when asked about Mr. Iglesias’s allegations, Sen. Domenici stated, “I have no idea what he’s talking about.” Sen. Domenici has now admitted that he called Mr. Iglesias, stating, “I asked Mr. Iglesias if he could tell me what was going on in that investigation and give me an idea of what time frame we were looking at.”

In a discussion of Senate Rule 43, the Senate Ethics Manual states that “[t]he general advice of the Ethics Committee concerning pending court actions is that Senate offices should refrain from intervening in such legal actions . . . until the matter has reached a resolution in the courts.” The manual also indicates that Senators are not to communicate with an agency regarding ongoing enforcement or investigative matters.

You can read a copy of the complaint here (PDF).

Finally, for those of you keeping score at home, Rep. Heather Wilson still has not provided an answer as to whether she called Iglesias and/or pressured him to speed up his investigation. By my count, she has until tomorrow to make a statement and answer some questions, because Iglesias may spill the beans under oath before House and Senate subcommittees:

The four prosecutors who were already subpoenaed by the House (San Diego’s Carol Lam, Seattle’s John McKay, New Mexico’s David Iglesias and Arkansas’ Bud Cummins) have accepted the invitation and will be testifying at 10 AM tomorrow, according to a spokesperson for Sen. Schumer. Those same prosecutors will be testifying before the House at 2 PM.

Stay tuned for more.

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