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NM GOP chief asked Rove to fire U.S. attorney

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/nationworld/bal-te.poll11mar11,0,7147075.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines Rove was urged to fire U.S. attorney in N.M.
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 11, 2007

      Rove was urged to fire U.S. attorney in N.M.
      State's Republican chairman says he made request in
      Originally published March 11, 2007

      WASHINGTON // Presidential adviser Karl Rove and at
      least one other member of the White House political
      team were urged by the New Mexico Republican Party
      chairman to fire the state's U.S. attorney because of
      dissatisfaction in part with his failure to indict
      Democrats in a voter fraud investigation in the
      battleground election state.

      In an interview yesterday with McClatchy Newspapers,
      Allen Weh, the party chairman, said he complained in
      2005 about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to a
      White House liaison who worked for Rove and asked that
      he be removed. Weh said he followed up with Rove
      personally in late 2006 during a visit to the White

      "Is anything ever going to happen to that guy?" Weh
      said he asked Rove at a White House holiday event that

      "He's gone," Rove said, according to Weh.

      "I probably said something close to 'Hallelujah,'"
      said Weh.

      Weh's account calls into question the Justice
      Department's stance that the recent decision to fire
      Iglesias and seven U.S. attorneys in other states was
      a personnel matter - made without White House
      intervention. Justice Department officials have said
      the White House's involvement was limited to approving
      a list of the U.S. attorneys after the Justice
      Department made the decision to fire them.

      Rove could not be reached yesterday, and the White
      House and the Justice Department had no immediate

      "The facts speak for themselves," Iglesias said, when
      he was told of Weh's account of his conversation with

      Weh's disclosure comes as Congress investigates the
      firings of the U.S. attorneys, most of whom had
      positive job evaluations, including Iglesias.
      Democrats have charged that the Bush administration
      tried to inject partisan politics into federal
      prosecutions in order to influence election outcomes.

      Weh said he doesn't know whether Rove was directly
      involved in the firing or was merely advised of the

      Weh insisted this wasn't about partisan politics.
      "There's nothing we've done that's wrong," he said.
      "It wasn't that Iglesias wasn't looking out for
      Republicans. He just wasn't doing his job, period."

      But Iglesias, who was fired Dec. 7, said he believes
      politics was the driving force. He accused Republicans
      Sen. Pete V. Domenici and Rep. Heather A. Wilson of
      trying to pressure him to bring indictments against
      several Democrats in time for the 2006 congressional

      Domenici and Wilson acknowledge calling Iglesias but
      deny pressuring him.

      Justice Department officials have revealed Domenici
      repeatedly contacted officials within the department
      requesting Iglesias' removal. But when asked Friday
      whether he contacted Rove about the issue, Domenici
      said he could not remember.

      Defense lawyers trying to convince juries to acquit
      their clients in corruption cases often accuse the
      government of mounting political vendettas against
      their clients. But it's virtually unheard of to have
      the former U.S. attorney in the case to be offering
      possible evidence of such interference.

      "Anyone with any experience within the Justice
      Department is completely shocked and appalled by what
      has been described," said Stanley Hunterton, a former
      federal prosecutor of 12 years. "One of the things the
      Department has stood for was being apolitical. Sure,
      politics does gets involved in the appointment
      process, but this is just nuts."
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