Rove key to New Mexico attorney firing

Documents released today by the House Judiciary Committee show that Karl Rove, the former top political adviser to President George W. Bush, played a critical role in the firing of the U.S. attorney in New Mexico following the 2006 elections.

The 6,000-plus pages of documents, which include transcripts from interviews with Rove and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers, make it clear that Rove and other White House aides were much more involved in the U.S. attorney firings than previously reported.

“After all the delay and despite all the obfuscation, lies, and spin, this basic truth can no longer be denied: Karl Rove and his cohorts at the Bush White House were the driving force behind several of these firings, which were done for improper reasons,” Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said in a statement.

Conyers said he has sent the material to a special prosecutor, who is investigating the firings on behalf of the Justice Department.

According to the documents, Rove’s former aide in the White House political office, Scott Jennings, began pressing for the firing of David Iglesias, the U.S. attorney in New Mexico, in May 2005. Rove, who was interviewed twice last month by Judiciary Committee investigators, said he’d first begun hearings complaints about Iglesias a year earlier.

In a June 9, 2005, e-mail, Miers told another White House lawyer that the decision had already been made inside the White House not to re-appoint Iglesias because he failed to press voter fraud cases favored by New Mexico Republicans.

But former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to fire Iglesias at that time, despite personal complaints from Rove.

In late 2006, though, after more criticism of Iglesias by former Sen. Pete Domenici and his top aide, Steve Bell, and former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.), Iglesias was placed on the firing list within the Justice Department and removed from his post, along with eight other federal prosecutors.

Domenici, who was investigated but cleared by the Senate Ethics Committee over his role in Iglesias’ termination, also pressed former White House chief of staff Josh Bolten to dump Iglesias.

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