WASHINGTON — The chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party was quoted Saturday as saying he urged presidential adviser Karl Rove and one of his assistants to fire the state’s U.S. attorney.
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McClatchy Newspapers reported that Allen Weh said he complained in 2005 about then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias to a White House liaison who worked for Rove, asking that he be removed, and followed up with Rove personally in late 2006 during a visit to the White House.
“Is anything ever going to happen to that guy?” Weh said he asked Rove at a White House holiday event.
“He’s gone,” Rove said, according to Weh.
“I probably said something close to ’Hallelujah,”’ said Weh.
The GOP party leader made clear his dissatisfaction with Iglesias stemmed in part from his failure to indict Democrats in a voter fraud investigation.
The Justice Department has said the dismissal of Iglesias and seven other U.S. attorneys was a personnel matter. White House involvement, Justice said, was limited to approving a list of replacements after the Justice Department made the decision to fire the eight.
The McClatchy story quoted Weh as saying he does not know whether Rove was involved in the firing of Iglesias or merely had been advised of the decision when the two talked at the White House.
“There’s nothing we’ve done that’s wrong,” Weh told the papers. “It wasn’t that Iglesias wasn’t looking out for Republicans. He just wasn’t doing his job, period.”
No objections from White House
Neither Rove nor the White House press office responded immediately to e-mails Saturday evening seeking reaction to the McClatchy story. A reporter left messages Saturday evening at Weh’s home and cell phone numbers.
A White House spokeswoman, Dana Perino, said last week that administration officials were aware of the impending firings and offered no objections. But Rove “wasn’t involved in who was going to be fired or hired,” she said.
At a speech Thursday in Arkansas, Rove said of the general flap over the firings, “My view is this is unfortunately a very big attempt by some in the Congress to make a political stink about it.”
Iglesias has said he felt pressed by Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., to rush indictments against Democrats before Election Day last November.
Domenici and Wilson acknowledge calling Iglesias, but deny pressuring him.
“Part of the controversy behind this is prosecutorial discretion,” Iglesias told the McClatchy papers. “What that means is it’s up to the sole discretion of the prosecutor in the case of how to handle the indictment and when to issue it.”
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