Amid the excitement of contempt charges and more lies from Gonzales and Mueller's exposure of those lies, the House Judiciary Committee released a report detailing what the USA Purge investigation has found to date. I'll do a more comprehensive review of what's in it and what's not. The most incendiary thing in there (although it's not presented as such, yet) is the implication that DOJ conducted a seemingly coordinated cover-up of the reasons for David Iglesias' firing.
You'll recall that the first reasons given for his firing was that he was an "absentee landlord," because his reserve service and other duties took him away from the office so much that his First Assistant USA was doing his job. Later, stories of complaints from New Mexico Republicans came out--but those complaints were usually placed early in the process--in 2005. Slowly, the news of calls from Heather Wilson and Senator Domenici came out. But most of the document dumps--particularly as they pertained contacts with Alberto Gonzales--focused on those earlier contacts.
The report suggests that this focus on earlier calls may have been deliberate deception.
Other statements of concern [with regards to inaccuracy] by the Attorney General include his testimony regarding calls received from Senator Domenici in late 2005 and early 2006. The Attorney General testified that, in those calls, the Senator criticized the performance of David Iglesias, which was useful testimony for hte Administration because it suggested that Senator Domenici had concerns about Mr. Iglesias well before the controversy surrounding the 2006 election. But Department documents and testimony of other witnesses strongly indicate that the calls actually concerned the Senator's request that more resources be provided to Mr. Iglesias' district. Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General Will Moschella, for example, was present during each of these calls and testified that he understood them all to be focused on the Senator's concern that more resources be provided to Mr. Iglesias. Mr. Moschella further testified that the Attorney General never relayed to him that the calls were critical of Mr. Iglesias. Supporting Mr. Moschella's recollections of the calls, the email scheduling of one of these calls states, "Senator Domenici would like to talk to the AG regarding his concerns about staffing shortages in the U.S. Attorney's office (District of NM). And in fact, in response to the Senator's concern, new prosecutorial resources were provided to Mr. Iglesias in July 2006. (14)
But Gonzales is not the only one the report suggests may have lied. It argues that Paul McNulty and Will Moschella may have lied too.
The Committee also has concern about the statements made by Mr. McNulty and Mr. Moschella to the Senate and House Judiciary Committees regarding the firing of David Iglesias. Neither official testified that the firing may have been based in whole or in part on a call received by Mr. McNulty from Senator Domenici in October 2006, even though Mr. McNulty stated during his subsequent interview with the Committee that such a call from Senator Domenici was at least important to his decision not to object to Mr. Iglesias' presence on the firing list. Furthermore, the omission of that information may have been deliberate. Monica Goodling stated in her testimony before the Committee that the issue of the call from Sen. Domenici had come up during a preparation session in advance of Mr. McNulty's briefing to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee in early February 2007, and that Mr. McNulty directed her to omit the reference from the materials she was drafting for him to use. (16)
And meanwhile, the report explains where that absentee landlord claim--the original reason offered for Iglesias' firing--came from.
David Margolis has explained that the issue of Mr. Iglesias being a so-called "absentee landlord" arose after Iglesias already had been fired when, during an interview to be considered to replace Iglesias, the First Assistant explained that he had been delegated substantial authority and so was well-prepared to succeed Mr. Iglesias. Furthermore, the First Assistant told Committee investigators that Mr. Iglesias did not overdelegate and was an excellent U.S. Attorney.
Put it all together, and it provides the outlines of DOJ's concerted efforts to draw attention away from the interventions of Domenici and Wilson just weeks before Iglesias was fired.
I'm not ashamed. I'll link to this story again! This might be why they tried so hard to draw attention away from the election-related issues:
In the spring of 2006, Domenici told Gonzales he wanted Iglesias out.
Gonzales refused. He told Domenici he would fire Iglesias only on orders from the president.
At some point after the election last Nov. 6, Domenici called Bush's senior political adviser, Karl Rove, and told him he wanted Iglesias out and asked Rove to take his request directly to the president.
Domenici and Bush subsequently had a telephone conversation about the issue.
The conversation between Bush and Domenici occurred sometime after the election but before the firings of Iglesias and six other U.S. attorneys were announced on Dec. 7.
Iglesias' name first showed up on a Nov. 15 list of federal prosecutors who would be asked to resign. It was not on a similar list prepared in October.
In other words, I find it curious that the one area where DOJ seems to have made the most concerted effort to draw attention away from events is the one area where--this story alleges at least--Bush was directly involved.
As far as I could tell from one reading, the report doesn't link to this story. Maybe they have reason to disbelieve it. Or maybe they didn't link to it for tactical reasons: elsewhere the report relies on White House claims that Bush was not involved at all to support an argument that the invocation of executive privilege is completely inappropriate.
In any case, it sure looks like HJC is honing in on the stories surrounding Iglesias' firing. [And for the record, seeing this argument laid out as it is makes me much more comfortable with the subpoena of Turdblossom.]