The Republican Road to Perdition

Domenici Called About U.S. Attorney Four Times

At least four recently fired U.S. attorneys who've been issued subpoenas are to testify before the House and Senate judiciary committees Tuesday. The panels are probing allegations that eight federal prosecutors were dismissed by the Justice Department in December for political reasons.

Now a senior Republican senator says he regrets a phone call he made to one of the fired attorneys.

On his last day as U.S. attorney in New Mexico last week, fired federal prosecutor David Iglesias told local reporters that he had been contacted by two congressional Republicans shortly before the November elections.

Iglesias said the two lawmakers, whose names he did not reveal, wanted him to speed up a probe into alleged corruption by a prominent local Democrat.

When the Associated Press asked New Mexico Republican Sen. Pete Domenici, last week about Iglesias' allegations, Domenici was quoted as saying he had no idea what Iglesias was talking about.

But over the weekend, Domenici did an about-face. He issued a statement acknowledging having called the fired U.S. attorney late last year. Domenici said he asked Iglesias about the ongoing investigation and wanted a timeframe on it. He also said that in retrospect, he regretted making the call, and he apologized.

The Justice Department has disclosed that Domenici called U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales four times over the past year and a half to raise questions about Iglesias. A Justice Department spokesman did not respond to repeated requests for further comment.

Domenici's call concerning a case Iglesias was involved has raised ethical concerns. The Senate ethics manual says senators should not communicate with agencies involved in ongoing investigative matters.

What few know about the Patriot Act:

From Law.com

"Recent fallout from the firing of seven U.S. Attorneys revealed that senators last year -- some knowingly and others unknowingly -- waived their advise and consent power by giving the attorney general the sole authority to appoint interim U.S. Attorneys to serve indefinitely when vacancies occurred.

The change in the process came at the request of the U.S. Department of Justice and was inserted into the renewal of the USA Patriot Act that was subsequently adopted by both chambers of Congress. The proverbial "sleeping giant" awakened in the ensuing controversy surrounding the unexplained requests for the resignations of U.S. Attorneys in Arizona, Arkansas, Nevada, New Mexico, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle."

One more step on toward more Executive Power.
One more step down the road to perdition.

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