Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Fired USA: Scandal Will Get "Worse, Not Better"

Paul Kiel
TPM Muckraker

Purged U.S. attorneys John McKay of Seattle and David Iglesias of New Mexico sat down with The Seattle Times today and had a lot to say.

First, they were clear that they think the various investigations -- by Congress and the Justice Department's internal watchdogs -- will result in criminal charges, whether for trying to influence criminal investigations or for lying to Congress:

"I think there will be a criminal case that will come out of this," McKay said during his meeting with Times journalists. "This is going to get worse, not better."...

McKay said he believes obstruction-of-justice charges will be filed if investigators conclude that the dismissal of any of the eight prosecutors was motivated by an attempt to influence ongoing public-corruption or voter-fraud investigations....

Additionally, McKay and Iglesias said they believe Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty lied under oath when they testified before Congress that the eight prosecutors were fired for performance-related reasons and because of policy disputes with Justice Department headquarters.

But McKay also told an anecdote that shows what has recently become painfully apparent -- that Alberto Gonzales never stopped being White House counsel when he became attorney general. He never stopped thinking of himself as the president's lawyer. From the Times:

McKay said he began to have concerns about politics entering the Justice Department in early 2005, when Gonzales addressed all of the country's U.S. attorneys in Scottsdale, Ariz., shortly after he took over as attorney general.

"His first speech to us was a 'you work for the White House' speech," McKay recalled. " 'I work for the White House, you work for the White House.' "

McKay said he thought at the time, "He couldn't have meant that speech," given the traditional independence of U.S. Attorneys. "It turns out he did."

He looked around the meeting room and caught the eyes of his colleagues, who gave him looks of surprise at Gonzales' remarks. "We were stunned at what he was saying."

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