They’re Close to Domenici … Are They Close to Bush?

Murray delivers the news he promised the other day, revealing that the grand jury investigating the US Attorney firings is getting closer to Pete Domenici.

A federal grand jury probe of the firings of nine U.S. attorneys during the Bush administration is focusing on the role played by recently retired Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and former senior Bush White House aides in the 2006 dismissal of David Iglesias as U.S. attorney for New Mexico, according to legal sources familiar with the inquiry.

The federal grand jury is investigating whether Domenici and other political figures attempted to improperly press Iglesias to bring a criminal prosecution against New Mexico Democrats just prior to the 2006 congressional midterm elections, according to legal sources close to the investigation and private attorneys representing officials who prosecutors want to question.  Investigators appear to be scrutinizing Iglesias’ firing in the context of whether he was fired in retaliation because Domenici and others believed that he would not manipulate the timing of prosecutions to help Republicans.

Apparently, Murray’s inquiries to both Domenici and his aide involved in Iglesias’ firing did not reveal whether or not Domenici will now cooperate with the investigation (he refused to cooperate with DOJ’s own investigation). 

Blalack, a partner with the law firm of O’Melveny and Myers, who is representing Domenici in his dealings with the Justice Department, declined to discuss anything related to the matter, including whether his client will cooperate with prosecutors conducting the current federal grand jury probe.


Michael Madigan, an attorney representing [Domenici Chief of Staff Steve] Bell, did not respond to several telephone and email requests for a comment for this story.


Although Domenici has refused to be interviewed by the Justice Department, and also declined to comment for this story, he said in a statement in March 2007 that "in retrospect I regret making that call and apologize" and that he had "never pressured [Iglesias] or threatened him in any way."

It’ll be interesting to see whether Domenici cooperates. That’s because–according to an often-ignored story from the Albuquerque Journal–Domenici had to call Bush directly to get Iglesias fired.

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.

The Journal confirmed the sequence of events through a variety of sources familiar with the firing of Iglesias, including sources close to Domenici. The senator’s office declined comment.

All the people who have refused to cooperate thus far–Domenici, Bell, Rove, and probably Deputy White House Counsel William Kelley–are the ones who could confirm or deny the ABQ Journal story. 

Would the 77-year old former Senator be willing to take the fall to protect Bush?

Depending on how aggressive Dannehy is, we might get to find out. 

29 replies
  1. bobschacht says:

    Oh, goody. Rove on another hot seat. I hope he remains uncomfortable for a very long time. Perhaps karma is going to pay Rove a call!

    Oh, Kaaaaarl! Are you sitting down? Karma on line 2. Have a nice day!

    Bob in HI

      • klynn says:

        EW, Thanks for this post.


        MD, Hmmm, ROTL…Thanks for responding to JimWhite’s Oxdown.

        Part of my intrigue was based on an article I read in the last month about Koval and the spy outings in the US in the last few years. The article had some content about dual agents. I’ll try to find it. There was a whole section on hacking and technology.

        Anyway, JimWhite’s “find” somehow stirred my memory of this article. Thus, my interest in more feedback on his Oxdown. Thanks all for weighing in.

    • Hmmm says:

      Personally I think this is likely a misinterpretation of perfectly innocent DNS information, see my comments over on JW’s OxDiary.

  2. Stormwatcher says:

    Is it just coincidence that the USA replacing Iglesias is now busy investigating the New Mexico Dem Party, Dem Gov. Association, and Dem Gov. Richardson?? Perhaps pay to play is easier to prove than voter fraud. It was in Gov. Seigelmans case.

  3. Citizen92 says:

    Having followed that story closely, I remember that Domenici somehow managed to call Iglesias directly at home. And Heather Wilson also called Iglesias at home two weeks earlier.

    Iglesias said that he had never spoken to a Member of Congress prior.

    I’m still wondering wondering how Iglesias’ home number seemed to be the digits of choice for the NM delegation.

    And wasn’t there another fired US Attorney who was reached, somehow, by a Member on his cell phone?

  4. orionATL says:

    close to domenici?

    not likely; he’s in another land – wee willie winkie running thru the town…

    how can domenici “co-operate” when he is non compos mentis?

    • BargainCountertenor says:

      Actually, Uncle Pete is pretty far from non compos mentos. It’s not clear whether he was mis-diagnosed or if his disease progress is slower than expected. For the time being, he’s doing very well. And as a result, he’s going to be very uncomfortable while this grand jury is seated and investigating.

      As far as ‘pay to play’ goes, it’s been around as long we’ve had political campaigns. That’s the reason that we need (among other serious reforms) public financing of political campaigns. As long as the wealthy are able to ‘buy’ access with campaign funds, we’re going to have ‘pay to play.’

      Funding the campaigns can be handled by redirecting punitive damage awards in State courts. (Remember, I’m talking punitive damages, not restorative awards!) Under current law, punitive damages go to the plaintiff and her attorney. The purpose of punitive damages is punishment. Punishment should serve a social good when possible. Handing a windfall to the plaintiffs and their attorneys doesn’t serve any general social good that I can identify. Let the lawyers have their contingent share, and redirect the remainder to public campaign financing.

  5. nextstopchicago says:

    On a different front, PRI (ie, NPR except not NPR) covered the British judges who reached a decision not to release evidence related to the torture of Binyam Mohamed at Guantanamo. They blasted the Bush administration for extorting Britain to keep the evidence hidden. Bush people threatened the Brits with an end to the intelligence relationship between the two countries if the evidence was released. The judges decision literally questions whether this is consistent with the idea that the US is a country where the rule of law is paramount:

  6. nextstopchicago says:

    Well, I sent my angry note off to And I’ll be talking about this to friends tomorrow. Dammit.

  7. jdmckay says:

    (…) according to an often-ignored story from the Albuquerque Journal–Domenici had to call Bush directly to get Iglesias fired.

    Perhaps because of some repressed desire for self inflicted pain, I read that newspaper every day.

    That article (by Mike Gallagher) one of the few that shed any light on this thing. There was saturation OpEd’s & FP articles (mostly by the Journal’s 2 repub pimps: Michael Coleman & Jeff Jones) going after Iglesias, a whole lot of it false repub talking points. Pat Rogers led the charge w/prominent ABQJ OpED real estate, and fed a lot of lies.

    Coleman says today that Domenici’s attorney denies there’s an inquiry, but leaves some wiggle room.

    I’ve been here 3 1/2 yrs. I watched Domenici from afar for years, and always thought he was an idiot. But in this state, even amongst good % of liberals, he’s adored. My wife loves him, my neighbors love him, and the Journal thinks he walks on water. Perhaps because he brought home a lot of bacon to this state… ///???

    If the feds are looking into this, I would hope Heather Wilson is getting microscopic treatment as well. She’s made her desire to replace Richardson as our guv known, and the Journal has been pimping her as the choice in ‘10. They announce her presence at UNM Lobos men/women basketball games lately, and even our Symphony events… with kind words asking the crowd to show their appreciation for her contributions making us safer.

    Go figure.

    What amazes me most in this Heather support: the Journal repeatedly, over and over, cites her experience in intelligence matters as a bonus for NM/USA, but has never looked under the skirt of her congressional role on Intel committee thoroughly supporting W’s Iraq adventure.

    The sight of this woman makes my skin crawl.

  8. obsessed says:

    Would the 77-year old former Senator be willing to take the fall to protect Bush?
    Depending on how aggressive Dannehy is, we might get to find out.

    You’re a poet EW – a poet.

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