On Monday, Sept. 29, the long-awaited report from the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General on the 2006 firings of nine US attorneys was finally released. This report has been long in coming ; New Mexico's fired US Attorney, David Iglesias, told me last year that the report could be released at any time.
Well, now it's out, but at almost 400 pages, it's not a quick read by any means (so far I've only read the NM-related portions). What does emerge clearly from the report is that Iglesias' firing was political in nature and likely the result of New Mexico Republicans' dissatisfaction with him, with US Sen. Pete Domenici,R-NM, being the main reason Iglesias ended up on the list of attorneys to be fired.
However, cooperation in the investigation was limited:
We believe we were able to ascertain with reasonable assurance that the
complaints from New Mexico Republican politicians and party activists about
Iglesias's handling of voter fraud and corruption cases were the reasons for his
removal as U.S. Attorney. However, based upon our inability to compel the
cooperation of certain witnesses and obtain White House documents, we were
not able to identify the role the White House played in the decision to remove
Iglesias. Nor could we uncover all the evidence regarding the role of
congressional or New Mexico Republican party activists in Iglesias's removal.
As discussed above, we were not able to interview Senator Domenici, his Chief
of Staff Steve Bell, Monica Goodling, and several White House officials,
including Harriet Miers and Karl Rove. The White House also would not
provide us internal documents related to the removals of U.S. Attorneys.
One person implicated in the scandal who was willing to participate was outgoing US Rep. Heather Wilson, R-NM, who responded rather quickly to the report with a letter to the DOJ, which begins with Wilson's statement that she had already the report (to which I wonder: How? It's 400 pages long! Guess one has more free time when one doesn't have an election to deal with). Wilson alleges three errors in the report regarding her role in the situation. Here is exactly what she says:
1. On page 190, paragraph five you state, "These complaints generated requests from Senator Domenici and Representative Wilson for Iglesias's removal." Additionally, the report contains numerous references to complaints about Iglesias made to the Department of Justice and the White House by "New Mexico Republican members of Congress." These references incorrectly suggest that I made such complaints to the Department or the White House. As I told your investigators, that suggestion is categorically false. At no time did I discuss Mr. Iglesias's job performance with the Justice Department or the White House before the decision was apparently made to replace him. I did not request that Mr. Iglesias be removed at any time. This is a significant mistake in the report that should be corrected.
2. On page 177 in the last paragraph and page 191, paragraph four you discuss an e-mail that I sent that included an Associated Press article about an FBI investigation in other states. By omitting any discussion of the FBI inquiry that prompted my e-mail, you inaccurately conflate this matter with the U.S. Attorney case. As I indicated in a letter to your investigators dated April 9, 2008, the email referred to leaks within the FBI concerning a completely separate matter. Contrary to the suggestion in your report, that email message did not relate in any way to my concerns about Mr. Iglesias' job performance.
3. On page 185 paragraph 2, you misquote what I said to Mr. Rove after the decision had apparently been made to remove Mr. Iglesias. I set forth the exact words I used in a letter to you dated September 26, 2007, and I repeated that quote to your investigators during my meeting with them.
Iglesias, on the other hand, hadn't had a chance to read the entire report when I contacted him (he was at St. Anshelm's College in New Hampshire giving a lecture and booksigning; you can click here for the podcast from Iglesias' recent lecture as part of the College of Santa Fe's lecture series, which The Santa Fe Reporter co-sponsors), but he had read the summaries and says, via e-mail, he feels "100% vindicated now since this independent investigation has corroborated what I've been alleging for the past 18 months." Iglesias also says he's hopeful the special prosecutor will have access to the evidence previously withheld and "be able to independently assess the case."
Iglesias still plans to ask for a formal apology from the Department of Justice.