August 11, 2009
For Immediate Release
Contact: Jonathan Godfrey
House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, Jr. D-Mich. today released over 700 pages of on-the-record interview transcripts of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers on the U.S. attorney firings and the Bush administration’s politicization of the Department of Justice. Conyers also released over 5,400 pages of Bush White House and Republican National Committee e-mails on these subjects.
The released materials reveal that White House officials were deeply involved in the U.S. attorney firings and the administration made a concerted effort to hide that fact from the American people. “After all the delay and despite all the obfuscation, lies, and spin,” Conyers said, “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. Under the Bush regime, honest and well-performing U.S. attorneys were fired for petty patronage, political horsetrading 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. When Mr. Iglesias said his firing was a ‘political fragging,’ he was right.”
Key new facts revealed in the materials released today include:
- 2005 White House “Decision” to fire David Iglesias – It has previously been known that New Mexico Republicans pressed for Iglesias to be removed because they did not like his decisions on vote fraud cases. New White House documents show that Rove and his office were involved in this effort no later than May 2005 (months earlier than previously known) – for example, in May and June 2005, Rove aide Scott Jennings sent e-mails to Tim Griffin (also in Rove’s office) asking “what else I can do to move this process forward” and stressing that “I would really like to move forward with getting rid of NM US ATTY.” In June 2005, Harriet Miers e-mailed that a “decision” had been made to replace Iglesias. At this time, DOJ gave Iglesias top rankings, so this decision was clearly not just the result of the White House following the Department’s lead as Rove and Miers have maintained.1
- Iglesias criticized by Rove aide for not “doing his job on” Democratic Congressional Candidate Patricia Madrid – An October 2006 e-mail chain begun by Representative Heather Wilson criticized David Iglesias for not bringing politically useful public corruption prosecutions in the run up to the 2006 elections. Scott Jennings forwarded Wilson’s email to Karl Rove and complained that Iglesias had been “shy about doing his job on Madrid,” Wilson’s opponent in the 2006 Congressional race. Just weeks after this e-mail, Iglesias’ name was placed on the final firing list.2
- An “agitated” Rove pressed Harriet Miers to do something about Iglesias just weeks before Iglesias was placed on the removal list – Karl Rove phoned Harriet Miers during a visit to New Mexico in September 2006 – according to Miers’ testimony, Rove was “agitated” and told her that Iglesias was “a serious problem and he wanted something done about it.”3
- Senator Domenici personally asked Bush’s Chief of Staff Josh Bolten to have Iglesias replaced – In October 2006, Senator Domenici stepped up his campaign to have Iglesias replaced. According to White House phone logs and emails, as well as Rove’s own testimony, Domenici spoke with President Bush’s Chief of Staff Josh Bolten about Iglesias on October 5, 2006, and during October 2006, Domenici or his staff spoke with Karl Rove at least four times.4
- Todd Graves removed in Rove–approved deal with Republican Senator – Kansas City U.S. Attorney Todd Graves was removed as part of a White House–brokered deal with U.S. Senator Kit Bond. In exchange for the administration firing Graves, Senator Bond agreed to lift his hold on an Arkansas judge nominated to the Eighth Circuit federal appeals court. A White House e-mail stated that “Karl is fine” with the proposal.5
- Miers obtained favorable statement on Rick Renzi in violation of DOJ policy – When rumors of the FBI investigation of Rep. Rick Renzi surfaced in October, 2006, one of Rove’s subordinates contacted Harriet Miers, who called Deputy Attorney General McNulty seeking a possible statement that would have “vindicated” Renzi. Even though this was contrary to standard DOJ policy, such a statement was issued several days later.6
“I have provided a copy of the materials released today to special U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy to assist in her effort to determine whether federal criminal charges are appropriate and to pursue any such charges,” said Conyers. “In the meantime, the committee has honored its pledge to get on-the-record statements from Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, as well as the relevant White House documents, and is pleased to make this unprecedented collection of Bush administration materials directly available to the American people by posting it online.
“I am especially grateful to the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, and the House Democratic leadership for their strong and unwavering support of this investigation, including the citations for contempt of Congress issued by the House in 2008. I also thank all members who voted in support of those citations and authorized the historic litigation that was instrumental in bringing us to this point. Today’s release marks a powerful victory for the rule of law, and should be celebrated by all who cherish our constitutional system of separation of powers and open, transparent government.”
An electronic copy of the materials released can be found on the Committee’s Web site at linked here. The release is pursuant to an agreement reached in March 2009 between the committee and the former Bush administration, with the assistance of the Obama administration, to resolve the committee’s lawsuit and the contempt citations issued by the Judiciary Committee and the full House of Representatives with respect to the refusal of the Bush administration to produce subpoenaed White House documents or permit the testimony of former White House officials Karl Rove and Harriet Miers on the U.S. attorney firings.
h/t: After Downing Street