Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Impeach Gonzales (Speedily)

Here is Prof. Frank Bowman, in Slate:

Showing that Gonzales knew that the only real reasons for dismissing Iglesias were improper ones is critical to the case for impeaching the attorney general. Remarkably, Gonzales has effectively admitted as much. In his testimony, Gonzales provided three explanations for his decision to fire Iglesias: 1) Iglesias "lost the confidence of Senator Domenici," 2) Karl Rove and President Bush complained, and 3) "the consensus recommendation of the senior leadership."

It's time for him to go.

Oh, and I am wondering what the immunized, took-the-Fifth-Monica (Goodling) had to say...

The rest of Frank's piece is too good to pass, enjoy:

The last explanation is misleading. To the extent it suggests that the "senior leadership" of the Department of Justice initiated the idea of firing Mr. Iglesias, it appears to be false. All of the "senior leadership" to have testified so far—including Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer, and Sampson—deny proposing Iglesias for removal. What's more, the only complaints anyone in the Justice Department received about Iglesias were those voiced by Domenici and his fellow New Mexico Republicans, and echoed by Bush and Rove. And all those complaints concerned either voter fraud or public corruption. Thus, when Gonzales said to Congress, "I was not surprised that Mr. Iglesias was recommended to me, because I had heard about concerns about the performance of Mr. Iglesias," he was admitting, however grudgingly, that he knew Iglesias was being fired either for failing to bring voter fraud cases or failing to indict New Mexico Democrats before the 2006 election.

Yet Iglesias' prosecutorial judgment that there were no viable voter-fraud cases to bring has never been challenged by the White House, the attorney general, or any Justice Department official. Indeed, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified in April 2007 that he was not aware of any election-fraud case since 2001 that he thought should have resulted in an indictment, but did not.

Iglesias' firing, therefore, cannot be lumped with others characterized as dismissals for failure to carry out the priorities of the Bush administration. A U.S attorney may certainly be dismissed for failing to prosecute a class of cases the administration has made a priority, so long as there are meritorious cases in his district to prosecute. To knowingly prosecute cases that are without merit, however, would be personally unethical and a gross abuse of prosecutorial power. The punishment is disbarment. If a U.S. attorney, at the command of his political masters, prosecuted a case without merit to suppress voter participation, he would also commit the felony of voter intimidation, as laid out in these federal statutes.


Iglesias' sin was not a failure to conduct a successful investigation, but rather his refusal to rush the investigation to affect the outcome of an election. Gonzales' approval of his firing is inexcusable. It was for just such an extraordinary case that the Constitution's framers gave the legislature the power to remove civil officers. Congress should use it.

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