Democratic Caucus Chair Rahm Emanuel on US Attorney Dismissals
David Johnston, New York Times - March 1, 2007
David C. Iglesias, who was dismissed as the United States attorney in New Mexico, has said he believes that he was ousted because he resisted pressure before the 2006 elections to bring corruption charges against a Democrat in his state, a Democratic senator said on Wednesday.
Mr. Iglesias has told Congressional aides that two federal lawmakers had separately called him in mid-October asking about the status of an inquiry involving a statehouse construction contract and a former Democratic state lawmaker, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York said in a statement Wednesday on the Senate floor.
Mr. Schumer did not identify the lawmakers who made the calls either by name or party affiliation, but he suggested that they wanted Mr. Iglesias to move quickly with indictments before the November elections to help Republicans.
Mr. Iglesias is one of eight United States attorneys known to have been dismissed in recent months by the Justice Department. Each had been appointed by President Bush during his first term, but Democrats have criticized the removals as politically motivated. Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, said in a floor statement that the firings represented an effort "to bring political operatives into these offices."
The House Judiciary Committee will vote today on whether to issue subpoenas on this matter, which would be the first subpoenas of the 110th Congress. The following was released by the committee yesterday:
Judiciary Chairman Conyers and Subcommittee Chair React to Former U.S. Attorney's Allegations
(Washington, DC) - Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. and Subcommittee Chairwoman Linda SÃƒÂ¡nchez released the following statements in response to U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias' allegations that he was fired because he refused to give in to political pressure. Specifically, Iglesias charged that he was asked to provide information on the status of a federal investigation and pressured to speed it up to help Republicans fare better in the November elections.
Judiciary Chairman Conyers said: "This is the most egregious allegation so far that the Administration has allowed partisan politics to corrupt the selection and retention of U.S. Attorneys. Worse, it appears to be part of a pattern of of partisan activity in this area and should be unacceptable to anyone concerned about a fair and effeicient criminal justice system. The Judiciary Committee is committed to getting to the bottom of this and bringing checks and balances back to the federal justice system."
Chairwoman SÃƒÂ¡nchez said: " We need to get to the bottom of whether competency in upholding the law is being sacrificed for political ideology," said Congresswoman Linda SÃƒÂ¡nchez, Chairwoman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law. "For this reason we'll be meeting tomorrow to vote on issuing subpoenas to the fired U.S. Attorneys so that we can discover the true motivation behind their dismissal."
Sanchez's Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee plans to issue subpoenas for former U.S. Attorneys Iglesias, Carol Lam, H.E. Cummins, III, and John McKay to appear at a hearing next Tuesday, March 6.