Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lawyer Trouble
This is another Republican scandal worth following:
WASHINGTON - A fired federal prosecutor told a Senate committee Tuesday that he felt "leaned on" and sickened as Republican Sen. Pete Domenici (news, bio, voting record) hung up on him in disgust last fall when told that indictments in a corruption case against Democrats would not be issued before the fall elections.

"He said, 'Are these going to be filed before November?'" former federal prosecutor David Iglesias, one of eight U.S. attorneys summarily fired in recent months, told the panel. "I said I didn't think so. And to which he replied, 'I'm very sorry to hear that.' And then the line went dead."

The Bush administration also applied a heavy hand after the firings of eight prosecutors became public and some of the dismissed U.S. attorneys had been quoted in media, according to one of those ousted, Bud Cummins of Arkansas.

Cummins said in an e-mail released by the Senate Judiciary Committee that Mike Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, had called and expressed his displeasure that the fired prosecutors talked to reporters about their dismissals.

"If they (DOJ) feel like any of us intend to continue to offer quotes to the press, or organize behind the scenes congressional pressure, then they feel forced to somehow pull their gloves off and offer public criticisms to defend their actions more fully," Cummins said in the e-mail to five other fired prosecutors.

Democrats accuse the Bush administration of firing the prosecutors to make room for Republican allies and using a new provision of the Patriot Act to install new U.S. attorneys without going through the Senate confirmation process.