On Day Of U.S. Attorney Scandal Report, Senate Lauds Domenici’s ‘Honesty’ And ‘Bipartisanship’

Today, Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) gave his farewell address to the Senate, mostly talking about his loyal staff, his work on nuclear issues and mental illnesses, and memories of times with fellow lawmakers. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) singled out Domenici’s “honesty,” stating, “In six terms, Pete has built a reputation for honesty that is second to none.” Domenici himself said that he learned that “the best way to solve a big problem is to do it bipartisan.” Watch it (view YouTube version here):

Domenici’s departure coincides with the release of a report on the U.S. attorney scandal by the Office of Professional Responsibility and the Justice Department Inspector General. Domenici is mentioned 201 times throughout the 392-page report for his involvement in the firing of former U.S. attorney David Iglesias.

The report concludes that Iglesias’s removal was purely political. Last year, Iglesias revealed that both Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) separately called him in October 2006 and inappropriately pressured him to bring an indictment in a pending corruption case before the November election. When Iglesias failed to cooperate, Domenici complained to Bush administration officials.

According to the report, Domenici has failed to cooperate with investigators:


In addition, Senator Domenici and his Chief of Staff, Steve Bell, also declined to be interviewed by us. Domenici initially told us through his counsel that he would be “pleased to assist” our investigation once a pending Senate Ethics Committee investigation of his phone call to Iglesias was completed.

We renewed our requests for interviews after the Senate ethics inquiry was concluded. … Domenici also declined to be interviewed, but said he would provide written answers to questions through his attorney. We declined this offer because we did not believe it would be a reliable or appropriate investigative method under these circumstances. In contrast, Representative Wilson cooperated with our investigation and was interviewed by us three separate times.

Former deputy attorney general Paul McNulty testified in June 2007 that Domenici’s complaint about Iglesias was “a significant factor” in why the U.S. attorney was fired.