No Comment — November 18, 2007, 8:38 am

The Trial of Alberto Gonzales

No, we’re not there yet. In fact, Fredo hasn’t even been indicted. And with political appointees yanking the chains ferociously as they have since the beginning of the Bush Administration, it has to be reckoned as a long shot that he will be indicted—notwithstanding a long line of now well-defined perjuries before Congress.

But a report in Friday’s Kitsap (Washington) Sun gets us a bit closer to the core of the case which is emerging against the former attorney general. And President Bush sits right in the middle of it. No doubt he’s dusting off another one of those pardon forms right now.

Our relator is former Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay, speaking to a crowd of lawyers. And it seems that ground zero for Gonzales’s troubles can be found in the Land of Enchantment. McKay

pointed specifically to Gonzales’ role in the firing of the U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, David Iglesias. New Mexico Republican Sen. Pete Domenici called Iglesias to see about getting indictments against state Democratic officials before the 2006 election. McKay said it’s clear from testimony that Gonzales met with Domenici and other New Mexico Republicans — and with the president — about the fraud case there.

“It’s apparent that he had a conversation with the president about David Iglesias and David Iglesias was fired six weeks later,” he said. “There was real live investigation and the Republicans wanted the indictment out in time to help them in the election, and Iglesias said ‘no’ and they fired him. “Now if all of that’s true and the attorney general was aware of that when he fired David Iglesias, then he has some ‘splainin’ to do — and probably in front of a grand jury.”

To put this in a bit sharper focus, New Mexico was standing on the edge of a knife. It went right down to the wire in both the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, both races being decided by paper-thin highly contested margins. In 2006, Domenici’s protégée and heir apparent, Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson of Albuquerque was facing her strongest opponent yet, New Mexico Attorney General Patricia Madrid. Polls were pointing to a photo-finish and Wilson was figuring high on the list of Republicans likely to lose a seat in a year that ended disastrously for the G.O.P.

New Mexico Republicans were counting on Iglesias to deliver an indictment of a key New Mexico Democrat to tip the balance. The idea was to use the indictment against Madrid, charging that she was an ineffective watchdog over corruption in state government and that the feds had to come in and deal with the matter. (In fact of course the feds had pre-empted the investigation by claiming it as their own).

Iglesias was intent on sticking to the Justice Department guidelines which require restraint in bringing indictments in immediate proximity to elections to avoid an appearance that the prosecutors are attempting to influence elections. He wanted the matter to proceed on its normal pace. He was doing exactly what the law and the ethics guidelines required him to do. And this is the point on which he got into serious hot water with New Mexico Republicans and Karl Rove. The suspicion has long been that Domenici and Wilson were pulling out all the stops to pressure Iglesias to indict in a manner designed to influence the elections, and Gonzales’s actions are intimately tied up with that. A story that ran earlier in the Albuquerque Journal put President Bush personally right in the middle of this process.

Of course, this is just one incident. Gonzales’s statements don’t match the facts with respect to what happened in Little Rock, Las Vegas, San Diego, Phoenix or Seattle, either. And in several other states, names appeared on the “fire” list and then disappeared following some seriously irregular conduct by the U.S. attorneys on the list—one of those targeted for extinction was Mississippi’s Dunnica Lampton, who carried off some of the most brazenly political prosecutions in the country, and is now threatening still more. McKay also proceeded to outline a series of false statements that Gonzales made to investigators concerning his actions relating to the scandal.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Six Questions October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm

The APA Grapples with Its Torture Demons: Six Questions for Nathaniel Raymond

Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2015

The War of the World

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Sharp Edge of Life

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Great Republican Land Heist

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Captive Market

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Day of the Sea

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
The Great Republican Land Heist·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The wholesale transfer of public lands to state control may never be achieved. But the goal might be more subtle: to attack the value of public lands.”
Photograph by Chad Ress
Article
The Sharp Edge of Life·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The struggle of the novelist has been to establish a measure, a view of human nature, and usually, though not always, as large a view as belief and imagination can wring from observable facts.”
Photo by Eddie Adams/Associated Press
Article
Captive Market·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Fear of random violence lives on, but the reality is that violent-crime rates have dropped to levels not seen since the early Seventies."
Photograph by Richard Ross
Article
The Day of the Sea·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Fifteen judges will then sit together in a wood-paneled room, in a city thousands of miles from the Andes, and decide whether the ocean Bolivia claims as its right will at last be returned to it.”
Photo by Fabio Cuttica/Contrasto/Redux
Post
Introducing the February Issue·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Ruin of the West
Christopher Ketcham investigates Cliven Bundy’s years-long battle with the BLM, Annie Murphy reflects on Bolivia’s lost coast, and more
Painting by Richard Prince, whose work was on view in October at Gagosian Gallery in New York City © The artist. Courtesy Gagosian Gallery

Percentage increase in the annual number of polio cases in Pakistan since 2005:

857

A bowl of 4,000-year-old noodles was found in northwestern China; and a spokesman for the Chinese Academy of Sciences said that “this is the earliest empirical evidence of noodles ever found.”

A federal judge sentenced the journalist Barrett Brown to 63 months in prison for sharing a link to information stolen from the private-intelligence firm Stratfor by a hacker in 2011. “Good news!” Brown said in a statement. “They’re now going to send me to investigate the prison-industrial complex.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today