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Iglesias: My Firing Was A ‘Political Hit’

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"Iglesias: My Firing Was A ‘Political Hit’"

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Today on Fox News Sunday, former U.S. attorney David Iglesias beat back several misleading claims by Bush administration officials, and reasserted that his firing was a “political hit,” not done for performance reasons.

He pointed out that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales agreed to write him a recommendation even after he was fired. “If [my firing] was performance based, there is no way they would have agreed to have allowed me to list them as a reference,” he said. “In fact, they agreed, telling me that the true nature was political, not performance.” Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2007/03/iglsun.320.240.flv]

Iglesias rebutted criticisms from Republican leaders, such as the New Mexico GOP chairman, who complained to Karl Rove that the former prosecutor didn’t go after voter fraud aggressively enough. In those cases, “we didn’t have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt,” Iglesias stated. “Prosecutors can’t just prosecute on rumor and innuendo. I set up only one of two election fraud task forces in the country. In fact, the Justice Department asked me to speak at an election fraud seminar as a result of those task forces.”

Iglesias also resisted pressure from Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM), who made “unprecedented” — and possibly illegal — calls to him to prosecute Democrats before the Nov. 2006 elections.

In today’s New York Times, White House counselor Dan Bartlett acknowledged that calls and visits from officials in New Mexico “played a role in deciding Mr. Iglesias’s fate.”

Transcript:

IGLESIAS: Performance has nothing to do with this. This is a political hit.

And I just wish the Justice Department would have been honest when it testified in January that these were, in fact, not performance related but, in fact, political.

I think it’s incredibly telling that I wasn’t on any hit list until just weeks after those two very inappropriate phone calls from two members of Congress.

WALLACE: Well, New Mexico Republicans — and this is a story on the front page of the New York Times today. They say the real problem was that there was significant evidence of voter fraud, that left-wing groups were trying to register ineligible voters and that you failed to prosecute those cases.

IGLESIAS: And that’s true, because we didn’t have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors can’t just prosecute on rumor and innuendo. I set up only one of two election fraud task forces in the country. In fact, the Justice Department asked me to speak at an election fraud seminar as a result of those task forces.

I wanted to prosecute those cases. I thought I had one case that I could have prosecuted. At the end of the day, I didn’t have the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, so I did not prosecute.

WALLACE: Well, you say, Mr. Iglesias, Look, this is a political hit. The fact is these are political appointments. We all know that home state senators often have a say in who gets appointed or not appointed.

So what is wrong with what happened to all of you?

IGLESIAS: Nothing wrong per se. It was just the manner in which they tried to misrepresent the true nature of our firings.

All they should have done was just say at the very beginning, These political appointees have lost political favor. We don’t need to give any details, and let it go at that.

But instead, they tried to slander us on our way out. And I had a duty to defend my honor and the honor of my office, which is one of the hardest-working offices in the country.

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WALLACE: Finally, Mr. Iglesias, in January, after you were fired, you sent this e-mail to the Justice Department, to the chief of staff, to the attorney general.

Let’s put it up on the screen. I wondering if you could ask the judge, meaning Attorney General Gonzales, if I can list him as a reference.

Mr. Iglesias, if you were so upset about the way your case was handled, why were you asking the Justice Department for a job reference?

IGLESIAS: It’s a good question. It’s a very simple test. I wanted to see if the true nature of my firing was performance based. If it was performance based, there is no way they would have agreed to have allowed me to list them as a reference.

In fact, they agreed, telling me that the true nature was political, not performance.

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