Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) admitted over the weekend that he contacted Attorney David Iglesias to talk to him about a political corruption case in New Mexico and also recommended his ouster to the Justice Department. In what appears to be a preemptive apology, as Iglesias will testify before the House Judiciary Committee tomorrow, Domenici told the Washington Post, "In retrospect, I regret making that call and I apologize." Domenici also claimed to have never pressured Iglesias over the result of the corruption case. When asked a few days prior to this weekend's apologia Domenici simply stated, " I have no idea what he's talking about." As Joe Monahan, a local New Mexico blogger wrote, "That apology by NM GOP U.S. Senator Pete Domenici was like a fig leaf that covered the most vital parts, but left plenty of skin exposed for Democratic marksmen if they choose to continue the hunt."
Domenici claims that he pushed for Iglesias' firing due to the Attorney's failure to prosecute more immigration cases. The New York Times mentions that Domenici put in "a brief call" to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty right around the time of the Senator's call to Iglesias. Josh Marshall wants to make sure to keep track of the timeline as that is the most important piece of the puzzle,
Now, some of this, let's just note for the record. DOJ says there were four calls complaining about Iglesias. But let's look at the fourth — that 'brief call to Paul McNulty' in October of last year. That's right about exactly the same time that Domenici put in his call to Iglesias about the Dem indictment. So which call came first?
Anyway, let's stick a pin in this point in the timeline to note it for future reference.
Clearly Domenici is choosing his words, and his story, carefully as he steps around what could be a major blunder, and ethical transgression, on his part. When a spokesman refers to a key piece of the story, in this case Domenici's fourth call to McNulty, as "a brief call", that sounds suspicious.
Another question is where is Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM) in this story. Wilson is still refusing to say that she called Iglesias before Domenici did despite two newspaper reports, McClatchy and the Times, stating that she called first. Does Wilson believe that she can't weather the controversy of a public apology? And is Domenici protecting his protege from political damage? Domenici, if he is being honest, is denying that he pressured Iglesias. Did Wilson pressure Iglesias?
We'll find out more tomorrow after the Judiciary Committee hearings. The last question that remains is who talked to the Justice Department about Carol Lamm, the prosecutor in the Duke Cunningham case? So many local congressmen were embroiled in that scandal that if any of them were to have suggested her ouster it would be a scandal of much greater magnitude than the Domenici-Wilson-Iglesias matter.