Monday, March 26, 2007
Iglesias Wants a Retraction
By Michael Coleman
Journal Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON Former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday and questioned whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should remain in the job.
The New Mexico Republican also used the nationally televised broadcast to press the Justice Department to "retract" its position that he was fired for poor job performance.
White House and Justice Department officials have said Iglesias was forced to resign Dec. 7. because of "performance-related" reasons. Iglesias maintains he lost his job because he didn't deliver indictments against prominent New Mexico Democrats in a corruption probe before the November 2006 elections.
"Meet the Press" host Tim Russert asked Iglesias if he still had confidence in Gonzales to lead the Justice Department.
"Right now I've got serious doubts I really do," said Iglesias, who has previously told the Journal he "liked" Gonzales and admired his life's story.
Democrats and Republicans have called on Gonzales to resign over the firings of Iglesias and seven other U.S. attorneys last year. Iglesias said Gonzales' fate is not up to him.
"That's something that has to be figured out in the scrum between the Justice Department, the White House and Capitol Hill," Iglesias said.
Under questioning by Russert, Iglesias disputed a claim by Dan Bartlett, counselor to President Bush, that he failed to deliver full justice in the prosecution of former New Mexico Treasurer Robert Vigil.
Iglesias told Russert he was slightly disappointed when he was able to secure only one conviction on 23 counts against Vigil, who was implicated in a kickback scheme. Vigil was sentenced to three years in prison.
"He's going to do three years in the federal penitentiary," Iglesias said. "Is that a devastating loss? I don't think so. It was a little bit of a disappointment, but frankly, had he been convicted of 10 out of 23 counts, I doubt he would have done a lot more time."
Iglesias, whom Bush appointed to the U.S. attorney job, hinted that he was pleased with the aggressive inquiry of congressional Democrats into the White House and Justice Department into the firings.
"I'm seeing Congress exercising an oversight role that's been absent for six years," Iglesias said.
Iglesias said he appreciated Bush's apology to the fired U.S. attorneys last week.
"It's a step in the right direction, but what I seek is a written retraction stating that performance had nothing to do with our terminations," Iglesias said.
Russert asked Iglesias if he expected the Justice Department to comply with his request.
"I'm not going to hold my breath, but it is possible," Iglesias said.