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White House Ally Could Miss Justice Hearing

A key lawmaker involved in tomorrow's hearings on the eight recently fired U.S. attorneys could be a no-show, and that could be bad news for the White House.

Sen. John Cornyn might not attend when his chamber's Judiciary Committee convenes Tuesday morning to hear testimony from four of the eight dismissed federal prosecutors, including David Iglesias. Iglesias claimed that two New Mexico Republicans in Congress unsuccessfully pressured him to bring an indictment against Albuquerque Democrats on the eve of the November elections.

Why is Cornyn so important?

He is ranking member of the Senate Ethics Committee and a member of the Judiciary panel.

Additionally, it's well-documented that the Texas Republican has been one of the staunchest defenders of his home-state political patron, President Bush. That's one less voice that likely would defend the White House from Democratic accusations that the firings were politically motivated.

With Sen. Pete Domenici's (R-N.M.) admission Sunday that he contacted Iglesias about the Albuquerque courthouse investigation, the chances for an ethics panel review of the matter increased greatly. Neither Cornyn nor Senate Ethics Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) has commented.

Aides to Cornyn said he has a major scheduling conflict which could force him to miss testimony in a case with huge political ramifications for the White House as well as Domenici and at least one other Republican lawmaker.

The Senate Judiciary panel will question Iglesias at 10 a.m. House Judiciary's subcommittee overseeing commercial and administrative law will take its turn in the afternoon. Democrats are expected to pepper Iglesias with questions on what Domenici said in his phone call, and whether Republican Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico was the other member of Congress who called.

Based on Iglesias' public statement last week, observers expect that he will name Domenici and Wilson. He likely will say they pressured him on the courthouse case and then bad-mouthed him to the White House, which helped lead to his firing Dec. 7.

If so, it's almost certain that the Senate and House ethics committees will have to kindle some form of investigation into Domenici and Wilson. As fellow blog The Fix outlined this morning, this has huge political ramifications for the seats held by Domenici and Wilson.

Cornyn is a former state Supreme Court justice. Will he take Domenici's actions as an offense to the rule of law? Or will he be a partisan pit bull attacking the credibility of Iglesias and lauding Domenici as one of the most respected senators of the past 30 years?

We'll likely have to wait on the answers to those questions. Cornyn's first order of business Tuesday is attending a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conditions of health care for Iraq war veterans at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, as documented by The Post's Anne Hull and Dana Priest.

Cornyn's absence would allow him to stay away from making any pre-judgments on the credibility of Iglesias. That stance will give him the freedom of not directly commenting on the allegations, if the ethics committee must move forward.

For now, Cornyn's only public comments on the issue were to The Post's Dan Eggen for a Jan. 19 story: "I find it unusual that some of my colleagues are critical of replacing Bush appointees."

By Paul Kane  |  March 5, 2007; 5:45 PM ET
 
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Comments

Why is there a hearing into prosecutors who were fired when they were appointed by the president and can be fired by the president. Why are taxpayer monies being used for this nonsense. Clinton fired EVERY prosecutor, Bush fires 6 or 7 and there is a hearing????? Why is this even a story?
Mr. Kane could I have an answer please?

Posted by: cajunkate | March 5, 2007 11:36 PM | Report abuse

Clinton fired every prosecutor when he took office. Nearly every President does. What Bush has done is markedly different and many knowledgeable & respected people believe it could be unconstitutional. This is just the beginning cajunkate so try to be a citizen instead of a republican and think how you'd react if the shoe were on the other foot.

Posted by: adam | March 6, 2007 12:32 AM | Report abuse

Cajunkate, are you really this stupid, or are you just pretending? Domenici and Wilson violated Congressional ethics rules by contacting Iglesias.
Also, you are right--just like Reagan, Clinton replaced all the attorneys when he came into office. Bush did this, too. The difference is that previously, all attorneys had to be confirmed. But thanks to a provision slipped into the Patriot Act, Bush can now get around the confirmation process. Plus, these are attorneys that *he nominated*. What he is doing now is unprecedented.

But thanks for trying.

Posted by: Taste the Cheesesteak | March 6, 2007 12:37 AM | Report abuse

It's glaringly obvious that ethics rules were broken. If they mean anything, then an investigation is appropriate.

When (unusual) and why (unethical) Bush fired them are the issues.
It's a story because this administration sells the office, and fires those who serve as professionals. This case is just more blatant than most. The Democrats ran against the culture of corruption. It wasn't just a slogan, it was a diagnosis. Now we get the investigations, which is how the system is supposed to work.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 12:37 AM | Report abuse

"Will he take Domenici's actions as an offense to the rule of law? Or will he be a partisan pit bull attacking the credibility of Iglesias and lauding Domenici as one of the most respected senators of the past 30 years?"

Well, gee, THERE'S a real stumper.

Posted by: youareidiots | March 6, 2007 12:42 AM | Report abuse

and after the investigation, the prosecutions.

And the convictions.

Posted by: tekel | March 6, 2007 12:45 AM | Report abuse

"The difference is that previously, all attorneys had to be confirmed. But thanks to a provision slipped into the Patriot Act, Bush can now get around the confirmation process. Plus, these are attorneys that *he nominated*. What he is doing now is unprecedented."

Haha cajunkate....pwnd!

Posted by: guido | March 6, 2007 12:47 AM | Report abuse

Frankly, at this point I am surprised when the Republicans do anything above board.

It seems that they get a thrill out of debasing the statesmanship that used to be part of the American political process.

Remember in 2000, when Bush promised to bring honor and integrity back to the White House?

If this episode proves anything, it is that he is the true embodiment of what the Republican party has become. I just am at a loss for how anyone can vote for a person who has a (R) next to their name.

Posted by: busdrivermike | March 6, 2007 1:03 AM | Report abuse

And BTW, when Clinton fired the Federal prosecutors, it wasn't payback for not prosecuting his Political friends criminal activity.

Posted by: busdrivermike | March 6, 2007 1:07 AM | Report abuse

"Clinton fired EVERY prosecutor, Bush fires 6 or 7 and there is a hearing????? Why is this even a story?"

I keep hearing this but I cannot find anything on it. Who were these prosecutors that were supposedly fired?

Everyone knows, doesn't count. I would like a link to the source of this information.


Posted by: Bruce | March 6, 2007 1:13 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: rebruce | March 6, 2007 1:30 AM | Report abuse

fyi - faux news doesn't cover this sort of thing.

Posted by: psbruce | March 6, 2007 1:32 AM | Report abuse

Here's TPM Muckraker's archive on the US Attorneys purge:

http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/cats/us_attorneys/

For one its first reports on it:
http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/002335.php

Posted by: soyinkafan | March 6, 2007 1:37 AM | Report abuse

"And BTW, when Clinton fired the Federal prosecutors, it wasn't payback for not prosecuting his Political friends criminal activity.

Posted by: busdrivermike | March 6, 2007 01:07 AM "

After finally getting some answers about this on from that wonderful blog, Eschaton, I find that busdrivermike has it in a nutshell.

It turns out the half truth the Republicans are telling is a whole lie. The motivation behind Mr. Bush's firings was to send a message, those who do not help cover up crimes will be removed.

Posted by: Bruce | March 6, 2007 1:50 AM | Report abuse

When Clinton fired the White House travel office, who also served at his whim, there were many days of senate hearings. Of course the head of the travel office had desposited monies paid into the office into his own personal bank account.

So please, now more questions about how unfair it is to have hearings. People broke the law here. How many other US att. did what they asked? I have not seen this question asked.

Posted by: Stephen Johnson | March 6, 2007 2:15 AM | Report abuse

At this point I don't know how any self respecting human being can call themselves a Republican. It must be so hard to sleep with all those ghosts visiting every night...

Posted by: Cooter | March 6, 2007 6:20 AM | Report abuse

If I understand the process correctly, Mr. Cornyn is taking the proper approach. He is likely to a "judge" in the fall out of the hearings. Being part of the "grand jury" would not be appropriate.

I am alarmed by these firings and circumstances may be a grave breach of the public trust. It would seem that a minimum, this will end up in the Ethics Committee and Mr. Cornyn's choice is the one best for the country.

Posted by: John Boy | March 6, 2007 7:06 AM | Report abuse

*When Clinton fired the White House travel office, who also served at his whim, there were many days of senate hearings. Of course the head of the travel office had desposited monies paid into the office into his own personal bank account.*

not only that, but the head of the white house travel office had been a favorite toady of the white house press corps under poppy bush. he gave an assist to media who returned from their foreign white house travels with pricey purchases avoid customs payments. but you never heard about that association in the coverage, did you.

Posted by: linda | March 6, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

A recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (released Feb. 22, 2007) revealed that since 1981, no more than three U.S. attorneys had ever been forced out under similar circumstances. To see the entire report; copy and paste the link in the address bar.
buzzflash.com/archives/07/US_attrny_rprt.pdf

Posted by: aznsw1mr | March 6, 2007 9:19 AM | Report abuse

A recent report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (released Feb. 22, 2007) revealed that since 1981, no more than three U.S. attorneys had ever been forced out under similar circumstances. And now we have six in a day? What's going on?


http://www.buzzflash.com/archives/07/US_attrny_rprt.pdf

Posted by: aznsw1mr | March 6, 2007 9:22 AM | Report abuse

Linda:

You bring up a good point when you write

"...not only that, but the head of the white house travel office had been a favorite toady of the white house press corps under poppy bush. he gave an assist to media who returned from their foreign white house travels with pricey purchases avoid customs payments..."

'Cause indeed it was true. Not to mention the White House staffers that would fill the military airplanes with their untaxed purchases (I even heard someone brought back a car) following overseas White House travel.

Of course the press were upset, the gravy train that Billy Dale had provided was coming to an abrupt end.

How much do you want to be there are 100's of Craig Livingstones running around 43's White House? How many FBI files have been examined by 43's junior White House aides?

Posted by: DC | March 6, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the most glaring evidence of these firings being politically motivated is in the case of the U.S Attorney from San Diego, Carol Lam. She successfully prosecuted Duke Cunningham, and she was canned while continuing to investigate others who were involved with him or in the same kind of corruption. Unfortunately for the White House and the GOP, she was able to get two more indictments out just before leaving. One of them was the former #3 at the CIA. Does that look to anyone like she was shirking her duties?

Posted by: chimpeach | March 6, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Has it been made public what case Iglesias was being questioned on in NM?

What were the charges being considered that made Domenici and Wilson call him about? And have charges been brought? It was supposed to be filed in Dec.

All I've seen on this is that he was investigating a Democrat, but not details or who or why.

Those details may explain a lot.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 6, 2007 10:47 AM | Report abuse

>Why is there a hearing into prosecutors who
>were fired when they were appointed by the >president and can be fired by the president.
>...Why is this even a story?

It's one thing to fire a prosecutor b/c you want to replace them with prosecutors who think like you (liberal, conservative, etc...) though I do not support it.

It's another thing altogether if you're firing prosecutors simply b/c they won't prosecute your political opponents. That's called perjury. That's called abuse of power. And ultimately, it's called breaking the law.

If you can't see that, you're too partisan to see otherwise. I'm so sick of partisan arguments that justify one side b/c of what the other side did.

Bush started a war w/o just cause. Should a Democratic President also rush into war?

It should frighten every American when one Party can prosecute the other party and it was only the integrity of 6 or 7 honorable Americans which prevented a serious abuse of power.

This time it's the Republican abusing power. Next time it could be the Democrats. And who loses? We the People do.

Are you so blinded by your partisanship to endanger America and its people for your politics?

Shame on you. Shame on Bush, Domenici, Wilson and anyone - Democratic or Republican - who only sees this in terms of Political power.

This was a serious abuse of the People's trust - and GODD@(@# if some of us still don't believe in that archaic idea.

Posted by: TexasKaosCom | March 6, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to posters for bringing up all those extremely important "scandals" the Republican Congress saw fit to beat to death in the 90's. Now Republicans are absolutely shocked that anyone would suspect this stinking pile of horse puckey is anything lawmakers should worry their pretty little heads about. The hypocrisy will keep me warm indeed during this annoying cold spell.

Posted by: WDC | March 6, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

Stephen Johnson, an excellent question, one that Josh Marshall at talking points memo has brought up. He mentions several supeonas that were brought on Dems in tight races that at the time were not investigated. You can bet he will investigate them now. Follow the story at talkingpointsmemo.com

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

Posted by: lyndoc | March 6, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

re: What corruption cases was he pursuing...This from the Albuquerque Trubune:

Was it...his handling of the cases against former Democratic state Treasurers Robert Vigil and Michael Montoya?

Was the final straw Iglesias' decision not to seek indictments ahead of November's elections in another corruption investigation - this one involving rumored kickbacks to powerful Democrats and other officials during the construction of several Albuquerque courthouses?


Do the specifics matter? Rep. Wilson was running against the New Mexico attorney general, a well-known member of the Democratic establishment that is widely believed to have looked the other way for years in regard to each others' antics.

Posted by: Viejita del oeste | March 6, 2007 11:45 PM | Report abuse

To quote Susan@BrazosRiver: John Cornyn is so slick that he can't keep his socks up, but he's dumber than bean dip. Check out this comment he made about the Justice Department firing all the US Attorneys who were conducting investigations or who wouldn't kowtow to Congressional pressure.

For now, Cornyn's only public comments on the issue were to The Post's Dan Eggen for a Jan. 19 story: "I find it unusual that some of my colleagues are critical of replacing Bush appointees."

Posted by: TexasEllen | March 7, 2007 6:22 AM | Report abuse

It comes and goes, no one is talking about the investigation into Halliburton..Chaney...Manipulation of war intel...Halliburton/Walter Reed connection. When will all of this war profiteering come to the light of day???

Posted by: RodneyinDallas | March 8, 2007 11:22 AM | Report abuse

RodneyinDallas has a good point. Democrats are easily distracted into losing track of their priorities. Personally, I think the mess is just a new dimension of the Bush team's talking-to-God arrogance. But the looting of our children's future to enrich the administrations friends, competitive bidding be damned, in the end is more important.

Posted by: LeftCoaster | March 8, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

hello from google...

Posted by: google | March 19, 2007 10:07 PM | Report abuse

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