Monday, March 05, 2007

Let the hearings begin...

From Paul Kiel at TPM:

Purged prosecutors to testify before both the House and Senate tomorrow.

(Update: In anticipation of tomorrow's hearing, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) put out the following statement: "The plot continues to thicken. No one believes anymore these U.S. Attorneys were fired for any good reason and we will start to uncover the real truth at our hearing on Tuesday.")

Josh Marshall adds:

On the matter of Mr. Iglesias's testimony on Tuesday, let's remember a few things. Sen. Domenici (R-NM) and the political appointees at the Justice Department have strong motivations for supporting each others claims about management shortcomings during Mr. Iglesias's tenure -- despite the fact that there appears to be little if any evidence for this prior to Iglesias's ouster. Domenici has already if not lied then intentionally misled the public about his contacts with Iglesias. Remember, when first asked about Iglesias's claims about calls to his office from members of the New Mexico delegation, Domenici said "I have no idea what he's talking about." It's only by the most generous and clement interpretation that that statement doesn't peg Domenici as a liar. So he's already misled the public and taken an action which even by the most innocent reading appears to violate congressional ethics rules. He doesn't have much credibility. The folks at Main Justice don't have much either when you consider that they've run through several different explanations at this point for why Iglesias was fired.

So let's see what Iglesias says. He's levelled extremely serious charges. So he deserves scrutiny too. But let's not miss that we're about to witness that most familiar of Bush era storylines, the whistleblower heading into the buzzsaw, with the full panoply of DOJ, Republican senators, National Review yakkers and RNC smearlords ready to crank up the noise machine to make sure Iglesias is too bashed and bruised by the end of the week to make his charges amount to anything.

The Muckraker has this tidbit to add to the stew:

The original report from Fox News on Michael Battle's resignation is now up on their website.

In it, Jonathan Hunt reports that Battle is resigning and that he "made that decision and sent out an internal email about a month ago." Hunt reported that the email had been confirmed to Fox "from three separate sources," but that the resignation had not been "publicly announced by the Department of Justice." The AP is reporting that Battle will leave his post March 16th.

Battle, a former U.S. attorney himself, was the DoJ official who actually made the calls to fire six federal prosecutors back in early December. Hunt reports that one fired prosecutor told him "Mr. Battle seemed unhappy about having to make those calls."

The Washington Post has reported that "Battle was apologetic but offered little in the way of explanations during the calls, telling some that the order had come from 'on high.'" He told one prosecutor, according to Salon, "It's hard not to think you did something wrong when you get a call like this, but that's not always the case."

A Justice Department spokesman told the AP that Battle "was not involved in the actual decision-making" behind the firings.


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