Oversight Failures and Failure to Prosecute Crimes? Rove get’s significant share of the blame.
Federal Oversight employees have been living in hell for nearly a decade. Just try to do your job, when doing your job gets in the way of the greedy, the partisan, and the corrupt who finance political campaigns of those who are supposed to be representing the American voters and tax payers, but who would rather curry favor with their campaign funders.
Keep in mind that even if the oversight agents, inspectors, investigators in the field are not being sabotaged by appointed and/or corrupted managers, as they attempt to do their jobs and complete their agency missions, having no one willing to PROSECUTE in the agency IG’s and OIG’s as well as the Justice Department in general, pretty much blocks any oversight enforcement. And truth be told, we have lots of proof ethical federal oversight employees have been sabotaged all across the federal government and suffered vast retribution just for trying to do their jobs. (Anyone out there monitoring the growing number of whistleblower complaints?) It’s been a bad decade.
The lack of anyone willing to prosecute, preceded by the harassment of investigators and auditors so they can not properly investigate and prepare their initial cases, has been the bane of most oversight employees for the past 8 years. It has nearly brought our government to its knees.
There are signs that some clean up and clean out of that which has brought about this troubling environment is starting. But it is going to be a nasty job, as some of those appointed by the last administration with marching orders to politicize and manipulate oversight to be sure it would not inconvenience or endanger certain greedy corporations and individuals, who were friendly with the Bush/Cheney administration, made end runs for regular Civil Service Jobs before the changeover to the Obama administration was complete.
So, these same folks who brought you corrupted and failed oversight agencies, IG’s, OIG’s, Attorney General, and Office of the U.S. Attorney’s, (Remember Alberto Gonzales, Paul J. McNulty, and some others before him?) When Justice Dept. fails, no agency or individual oversight agent, inspector or investigator can successfully do his or her job.
Here are some recent revelations regarding Mr. Rove’s contributions to these problems.
Thursday 13 August 2009
by: Jason Leopold, t r u t h o u t | Report
Political adviser Karl Rove and other officials inside George W. Bush’s White House pushed for the firing of a key federal prosecutor because he wasn’t cooperating with Republican plans for indicting Democrats and their allies before the 2006 election, according to internal documents and depositions.
The evidence was released Tuesday and turned over to a special prosecutor by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers. It contradicts claims by Rove and other senior Bush administration officials that the White House played only a minimal role in the firing of David Iglesias and eight other US attorneys who were deemed by a Justice Department official as not “loyal Bushies.”
In a recent interview with The New York Times and The Washington Post, Rove downplayed his role in the firings, saying he only acted as a “conduit” for complaints that Republican Party officials and GOP lawmakers sent to him about the federal prosecutors. The documents tell a different story.
The documents reveal that Rove, his White House aides and then-White House counsel Harriet Miers actively participated in the decision to oust New Mexico US Attorney David Iglesias because Republicans had wanted him to bring charges against Democrats regarding alleged voter fraud and other issues. Iglesias refused to do that.
According to Miers’s closed-door testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, a “very agitated” Rove phoned her from New Mexico, apparently in September 2006, and told her that Iglesias was “a serious problem and he wanted something done about it.”
At the time of the phone call, Rove had just met with New Mexico Republican Party officials angry at Iglesias, who was refusing to proceed with voter fraud cases because he felt the evidence was weak and because pre-election indictments would violate Justice Department guidelines.
Miers said she responded to Rove’s call by getting on the phone to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and passing along the message that Rove “is getting lots of complaints.” Miers added, “it was a problem.” About one month later, Iglesias was added to the list of US attorneys to be removed.
But the documents show that White House dissatisfaction with Iglesias over his resistance to bringing politically motivated cases against Democrats had been building for more than a year. On June 28, 2005, Scott Jennings, one of Rove’s aides, sent an e-mail to Tim Griffin, another Rove aide, asking what could be done to remove Iglesias.
“I would really like to move forward with getting rid of NM US ATTY,” Jennings wrote, complaining that “Iglesias has done nothing” on prosecuting voter fraud cases and adding: “We’re getting killed out there.”
In a statement on Tuesday of this week, accompanying the release of more than 5,000 pages of documents – including transcripts of the recent interviews with Rove and Miers – Conyers said the revelations warrant further inspection by special prosecutor Nora Dannehy, who has spent nearly a year conducting a criminal probe into the firings.
“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,” Conyers said.
A Justice Department watchdog report concluded last year that a majority of the prosecutor firings were politically motivated. The US attorney in Little Rock, Arkansas, was pushed out, so Rove’s aide, Tim Griffin, could be given the job. But – in the face of the growing scandal – Griffin bowed out.
For months, Rove and Miers had dodged Congressional subpoenas seeking their testimony in the matter, citing George W. Bush’s broad claims of executive privilege. But the Obama administration brokered a deal that had Rove and Miers testify behind closed doors.
Besides the Bush White House pressure for ousting Iglesias, powerful New Mexico Republicans also weighed in.
In October 2006, a month before the midterm elections that cost Republicans control of Congress, an e-mail chain started by Rep. Heather Wilson (R-New Mexico) faulted Iglesias for not using his office in a manner that would help Wilson in her reelection campaign.
Wilson’s e-mail included a news report about an FBI probe of Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pennsylvania) as an example of criminal investigations proceeding close to election day.
Steve Bell, chief of staff to New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, forwarded the e-mail to Jennings at Rove’s White House shop, with a note saying it “seems like other U.S. attorneys can do their work even in election season. And the FBI has already admitted they have turned over their evidence [in a federal corruption probe] to the [U.S. Attorney] in [New Mexico] and are merely awaiting his action.”
Jennings then passed along the e-mail to Rove, saying Iglesias was “shy about doing his job on [Patricia] Madrid,” a Democratic Congressional candidate who would lose the 2006 election to Wilson by only 800 votes.
Last year, Wilson told Justice Department watchdogs investigating the US attorney purge that the context of her e-mail was more of a “heads up” to the recipients. She said that if she were asked by reporters about an FBI investigation into Madrid, she would confirm it. Madrid was New Mexico’s former attorney general who was involved with a political action committee that was allegedly under scrutiny.
Domenici also intervened, personally lobbying Bush’s top aides to fire Iglesias, according to the documents. Between September 2005 and April 2006, Domenici called Attorney General Alberto Gonzales three times to complain about Iglesias’s handling of voter fraud and corruption probes and to ask that he be fired.
Gonzales testified to Congress that he did not recall Domenici ever making such a request. Gonzales resigned in August 2007 amid political fallout from the prosecutor-firing scandal.
On October 4, 2006, Domenici also called Deputy Attorney General McNulty, “expressing concern about Iglesias’s lack of fitness for the job of U.S. Attorney.”
At one point, according to Rove’s testimony, Domenici wanted to speak with President Bush to press his case, but Rove talked him out of it. However, in October 2006, the senator personally asked Bush’s chief of staff Josh Bolten to replace Iglesias, according to White House phone logs and e-mails.
In Congressional testimony, Iglesias said he also received telephone calls from Domenici and Wilson in October 2006 inquiring about the timing of an indictment against former state Sen. Manny Aragon, a Democrat, and other Democrats who were involved in a courthouse construction project.
Domenici’s interventions prompted a Senate Ethics Committee investigation, which resulted last year in a letter of reprimand for creating an “appearance of impropriety.” Special prosecutor Dannehy is probing possible obstruction of justice charges against Domenici and his former aide Steve Bell.
Dannehy secured the testimony last April of Scott O’Neal, the assistant FBI special agent in charge of the Albuquerque field office, who reportedly informed Domenici or his aide Bell about the status of the FBI’s investigation of alleged Democratic wrongdoing, according to legal sources who requested anonymity because of secrecy surrounding the probe.
In an interview, former US Attorney Iglesias said the briefing to Domenici and/or Bell, if it did take place, would be significant because it would have required approval from himself or his former colleagues who never received a formal request from O’Neal or his FBI superiors.
The US attorney’s manual states that “personnel of the Department of Justice shall not respond to questions about the existence of an ongoing investigation or comment on its nature or progress, including such things as the issuance or serving of a subpoena, prior to the public filing of the document.”
Regarding Tuesday’s revelations, Iglesias said he had long suspected that Rove’s “fingerprints were all over this.”
In an interview with me two years ago, Iglesias said he believed “somewhere on an RNC computer – on some server somewhere – there’s an e-mail from Karl Rove stating why we need to be axed.” He added that he believed a “smoking gun” would eventually surface and lead directly to Rove and blow the scandal wide open.
“The e-mail timing [in October 2006] corroborates what I suspected,” Iglesias said Tuesday. Domenici and other New Mexico Republican Party officials “wanted me to file indictments and [Wilson] would benefit. They wanted to use me and my office as a political tool.”
Iglesias said Dannehy has access to “a lot of the facts” and “there still may be obstruction of justice charges” filed. He added, “I can’t believe Gonzales did not know what was going on,” suggesting that the former attorney general may be one of Dannehy’s targets.
Domenici retired from the Senate and Wilson also left Congress in 2009 after unsuccessfully seeking the Republican nomination to fill Domenici’s seat, which is now held by Democratic Sen. Tom Udall.
Deputy Attorney General McNulty testified before Congress in February 2007 that the prosecutor firings were “performance related,” though that testimony also now appears to be in question.
Documents released by the Justice Department showed that Gonzales and McNulty participated in an hour-long meeting with Gonzales’s chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, who compiled the list of prosecutors to be fired, a group he famously designated as not “loyal Bushies.”
The documents, along with Rove’s and Miers’s testimony, contradict numerous public statements made by White House spokespersons Tony Snow and Dana Perino in the aftermath of the December 2006 firings. Snow and Perino insisted that the White House did nothing wrong and didn’t oust prosecutors for political reasons.
Yet, upon being informed in November 2006 via e-mail of the plan to fire the US attorneys, Perino responded: “Someone get me the oxygen can!” When told the firings included some US attorneys who were actively investigating GOP lawmakers alleged to be involved in corruption, Perino added: “Give me a double shot – I can’t breathe.”
The newly released documents also show that Kansas City US Attorney Todd Graves was removed in a deal between the White House and Sen. Kit Bond of Missouri that appears to have been personally approved by Rove.
According to the documents, Bond agreed to lift his hold on an Arkansas judge nominated to the Eighth Circuit federal appeals court in exchange for Graves’s firing. A December 21, 2005, e-mail sent by White House lawyer Fred Klingler to Miers stated that “Karl is fine” with the proposal
Miers Told House Panel of ‘Agitated’ Rove
Bush White House Counsel Said Adviser Called U.S. Attorney a ‘Serious Problem’
By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
The dismissal of U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias of New Mexico in December 2006 followed extensive communication among lawyers and political aides in the White House who hashed over complaints about his work on public corruption cases against Democrats, according to newly released e-mails and transcripts of closed-door House testimony by former Bush counsel Harriet Miers and political chief Karl Rove.
A campaign to oust Iglesias intensified after state GOP officials and Republican members of the congressional delegation apparently concluded that he was not pursuing the cases against Democrats in a way that could help then-Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R) in a tight reelection race in New Mexico, according to interviews and Bush White House e-mails released Tuesday by congressional investigators. The documents place the genesis of Iglesias’s dismissal earlier than previously known.
The disclosures mark the end of a 2 1/2 -year investigation by the House Judiciary Committee, which sued to gain access to White House documents in a dispute that challenged the Bush administration’s claims of executive power.
House Judiciary Chairman John M. Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) on Tuesday characterized the role of Bush White House figures in the firing of Iglesias and eight other U.S. attorneys as improper.
“Under the Bush regime, honest and well-performing U.S. attorneys were fired for petty patronage, political horse-trading, and, in the most egregious case of political abuse of the U.S. attorney corps — that of U.S. attorney Iglesias — because he refused to use his office to help Republicans win elections,” Conyers said.
In a statement Tuesday, Rove asserted that he “never sought to influence the conduct of any prosecution” and did not decide which prosecutors were fired. He also accused Democrats of making “false accusations and partisan innuendoes.”
An attorney for Miers did not return calls seeking comment, but Miers told House investigators that the prosecutors were not fired for improper reasons.
In their testimony in June and July, both Miers and Rove said they could not recall key incidents, according to the transcripts. In the course of her 10-hour deposition, Miers said she could not recall events almost 150 times. Rove said he received hundreds of e-mails a day, so “asking me to remember replies is like asking me to remember a raindrop in a thunderstorm.”
The House panel focused most of its attention on Iglesias, a rising star in New Mexico who came to displease his political patrons. Miers told investigators that Rove called her in September 2006, “agitated” about the slow pace of public corruption cases against Democrats and weak efforts to pursue voter-fraud cases in the state. In the call, Miers said, Rove described Iglesias as a “serious problem” and said he wanted “something done” about it. Miers testified that she called then-Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty to pass along the concerns.
According to e-mails and interviews with people familiar with the investigation, GOP figures in New Mexico thought that if Iglesias pursued public corruption cases against Democrats, it could help Wilson in her run for reelection.
A mid-October 2006 e-mail chain that began with Wilson indirectly criticized Iglesias for not bringing public corruption prosecutions in the run-up to the midterm elections. Attached was a news report about an FBI investigation of then-Rep. Curt Weldon (R-Pa.).
The same day, Steve Bell, chief of staff to then-Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), e-mailed Rove’s deputy, Scott Jennings, to say that it “seems like other U.S. attorneys can do their work even in election season. . . . And the FBI has already admitted they have turned over their evidence to the USA in NM and are merely awaiting his action.”
Jennings forwarded the messages to Rove, saying, “Steve Bell sent this email . . . essentially saying that the US Attorney in PA has no trouble going after Weldon, so why should the US Attorney in New Mexico be shy about doing his job on [Patricia] Madrid.” Madrid was Wilson’s Democratic opponent in the 2006 congressional race.
A few weeks after this e-mail, Iglesias’s name was placed on the final firing list.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Wilson said her October 2006 e-mail dealt with an unrelated subject and had nothing to do with the U.S. attorney in New Mexico and cases he might have been pursuing against Democrats.
“My e-mail is only one sentence long and does not relate in any way” to Iglesias, Wilson said. “In early October 2006, we made a strategic decision to campaign on national security and competence,” not public corruption.
In a follow-up statement, Wilson said that the House findings were “incorrect in several important respects” and that investigators had “failed to inquire about or review basic facts.”
Domenici — who accepted a Senate ethics reprimand last year for calling Iglesias to ask about the timing of prosecutions before the 2006 election — pursued his complaints at the highest levels of the government, according to the testimony. The longtime senator, who has since retired, wanted to contact President George W. Bush directly, Rove testified to the House panel. But Rove told investigators that he “discouraged” the senator, who went on to phone White House Chief of Staff Joshua B. Bolten in October 2006, according to White House call logs.
Meanwhile, federal prosecutor Nora R. Dannehy continues to probe whether false-statements or obstruction-of-justice charges could be lodged against anyone in connection with the dismissals and previous congressional testimony under oath about them.
In 2007, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and his deputy D. Kyle Sampson resigned, in part because of the political furor over the prosecutor dismissals.
The plan to fire U.S. attorneys raised alarm bells among some in the Bush White House days after the dismissal list arrived from the Justice Department in late 2006. Deputy press secretary Dana Perino told White House colleagues in e-mails that she needed “an oxygen tank” and a “double shot” of air after aides reported that some of the prosecutors had been conducting politically sensitive investigations of Republicans at the time of their dismissal.
U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton of Arizona had been moving toward an indictment of then-Rep. Rick Renzi (R) in that state, while Carol Lam in San Diego had expanded her probe of Rep. Randall “Duke” Cunningham (R-Calif.) to include another Republican congressman from that state as well as former CIA operative Kyle “Dusty” Foggo. Cunningham and Foggo since have been convicted of crimes. Renzi has been indicted and awaits trial.
Despite allegations by Democrats, the House investigation did not uncover smoking-gun documents or testimony showing that Lam and Charlton were removed as part of a broader effort to interfere with investigations of prominent Republicans. Rove told lawmakers: “I know they would not enter into the president’s thinking at all. Because I know how he felt about both Duke Cunningham and Rick Renzi’s behavior.”
Probe shows Rove played key role in firing U.S. attorneys
By Marisa Taylor | McClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — Karl Rove and other top officials in the George W. Bush White House were deeply involved in pushing for the ouster of several U.S. attorneys, notably including one in New Mexico, according to testimony and e-mails that the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee released Tuesday.
Sworn testimony from former White House Counsel Harriet Miers revealed that Rove considered former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias of New Mexico a “serious problem” and “wanted something done about it” because of complaints about politically sensitive investigations that Iglesias had mounted. Miers said that she couldn’t recall whether Rove specifically demanded Iglesias’ firing during a 2006 conversation, but Iglesias was fired later that year.
Miers’ testimony and e-mails between White House officials contradict Rove’s assertion that he was merely a passive “conduit” to the Justice Department for complaints from Republican operatives and wasn’t himself an advocate for the administration’s eventual ouster of nine U.S. attorneys.
In sworn closed-door testimony to the House Judiciary Committee in July, Rove continued to distance himself from the decision to push out certain prosecutors. He recalled a proposal to fire some or all of them in late 2004, but denied that he’d come up with a plan to have it done and rejected the suggestion that he had a direct role.
“My view was this is a decision that had to be made at the Justice Department,” Rove said, according to a transcript of his sworn testimony.
House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., issued a statement that said: “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.”
Iglesias, too, said Tuesday that the e-mails confirmed his suspicions that Rove was more directly involved in his December 2006 firing than he’d acknowledged.
“That was just spin,” he said of Rove’s claim that he’d merely passed along complaints from Republican operatives in New Mexico and had no active role. “The e-mails and testimony confirm my worst fears that the true basis for not only my removal but for several of my colleagues was improper political reasons.”
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Rove again denied that he’d sought to influence any of the prosecutors’ investigations.
“I played no role in deciding which U.S. attorneys were retained and which (were) replaced,” his statement said.
Rove, who said the documents’ release showed that allegations against him “have proved utterly groundless,” urged the public to read the documents rather than rely on “partisans selectively quoting testimony or excerpting e-mail messages.”
The committee’s release of more than 700 pages of transcripts and 5,000 pages of White House and Republican National Committee e-mails on these subjects marks the end of the House investigation into the U.S. attorneys’ firings.
The e-mails reveal more details about the political sources of the White House’s dissatisfaction with Iglesias and other prosecutors.
In e-mails, Rove’s then-aide Scott Jennings repeatedly pressed the issue with his boss and other White House officials. In a June 2005 e-mail, he told former Bush campaign operative Tim Griffin that he’d “really like to move forward with getting rid” of Iglesias because of the New Mexico prosecutor’s handling of allegations about Democratic voter fraud. Griffin, who later replaced ousted Arkansas U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins, was favored for the job by Rove and other White House officials.
In a 2005 e-mail, Rove urged another White House official to “keep pushing” for Griffin. “I want him on the team,” Rove wrote.
The e-mails also confirmed that former Missouri U.S. Attorney Todd Graves was forced to leave because staffers for U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., wanted him out, not because of professional misconduct. Bond issued a statement Tuesday denying involvement in Graves’ firing.
In another 2005 e-mail, then-White House lawyer Richard Klingler said “Karl is fine” with the plan to remove Graves in a deal struck with Bond, which Bond previously has denied making.
The Justice Department’s inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility later found Graves’ removal to be “inappropriate.”
U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy, a special prosecutor, continues to investigate whether any former administration officials involved in the firings violated the law. The House Judiciary Committee forwarded the material collected during its more than two-year investigation to Dannehy “to assist in her effort to determine whether federal criminal charges are appropriate and to pursue any such charges,” Conyers’ statement said.