New Mexico lawmakers face increased scrutiny due to 'Attorneygate'
The Senate testimony of Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, indicates that pressure from Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) played "a significant role" in the firing of New Mexico prosecutor David Iglesias, reports The Hill.
Sampson's statements "are placing additional pressure on New Mexico GOP Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson," the Hill reports, "as well as Gonzales, White House political adviser Karl Rove and ex-White House counsel Harriet Miers, to explain what roles, if any, they played in the firing of U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, according to legal experts."
Both Wilson and Domenici have been accused by Iglesias of making improper and threatening phone calls weeks before the Novemeber 7 election to inquire about a pending corruption case involving a New Mexico Democrat.
Domenici and Wilson deny any wrongdoing. Wilson stated she “never discussed this matter or anything related to Mr. Iglesias’s performance as U.S. attorney with the Justice Department at any time,” according to The Hill.
Domenici released a statement in March asserting that he recommended Iglesias' firing months before placing the call to the prosecutor's office.
Excerpts from the article follow...
In addition to administration officials, Gerry Hebert, the executive director of the Campaign Legal Center and a 21-year veteran of the Justice Department, said Domenici’s and Wilson’s testimony is essential to figuring out the rest of the story surrounding Iglesias’s firing.
“[Iglesias’s] dismissal from the Justice Department — that is the one clear-cut example of a dismissal that appears to be based almost entirely on political motivation and political interference,” Hebert said.
President Bush insisted yesterday that there is “no credible evidence of wrongdoing” in the firings of the eight U.S. attorneys.
“Pete Domenici needs to be placed under oath and asked whether he talked to Bush or Gonzales or Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, and what he said,” Hebert said.
To get the whole story, Dettelbach said the Senate Judiciary Committee likely would want to hear from as many people as possible, including Domenici and Wilson. He conceded that jurisdictional lines between the Ethics and Judiciary committees could prevent both panels from seeking testimony from Domenici. Asking a sitting lawmaker to testify publicly before a committee about a charge against him is not unprecedented, he noted, citing the Keating Five scandal, in which five senators endured 23 days of public testimony before the Ethics Committee.
“It would be better to hear everyone’s version of what occurred on that phone call and afterward,” Dettelbach said.
LINK TO FULL ARTICLE