A lack of evidence will bring a halt to any possible criminal charges stemming from the firings of nine U.S. attorneys during the George W. Bush Administration. One of the biggest domestic controversies of the Bush years comes to an end not with the bang of a gavel, but with a whimper. In a letter to the head of the House Judiciary Committee, it was announced that Nora R. Dannehy, an assistant prosecutor from Connecticut who led the investigation, was unable to find the evidence necessary to bring criminal charges over the firings of the nine attorneys.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the investigation did find that former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales made statements to Congress that were "inaccurate and misleading" about the ouster of U.S. Atty. David Iglesias in New Mexico. Ronald Welch, an assistant attorney general, wrote in his letter to John Conyers, (D-Mich.) chair of the Judiciary Committee, that while Gonzales' statements and those of other DOJ officials were misleading, there was "insufficient evidence to establish that persons knowingly made false statements or corruptly endeavored to obstruct justice."
Further, reports the Times, Welch writes that the evidence is also not available to allow an expansion of the scope of the investigation beyond the removal of David Iglesias. Iglesias claimed that his removal in 2006 (along with eight of his colleagues) could have been politically motivated. At that time, then-Senator Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican, had talked to Iglesias about the status of a corruption investigation that, had it proceeded more quickly, might have have helped a fellow GOP candidate.
Despite the investigation findings, Congressman Conyers was not ready to let the Bush administration completely off the hook. In a statement he said, "It is clear that Ms. Dannehy's determination is not an exoneration of Bush officials in the U.S. attorney matter as there is no dispute that these firings were totally improper and that misleading testimony was given to Congress in an effort to cover them up."
- No charges for Gonzales (Politico)
- Letter: No charges in firing of 9 U.S. attorneys during Bush years (CNN)
- A Recent Report Reveals Numerous Ethics Violations by Former Justice Department Attorneys Relating to the U.S. Attorney Firings of 2006 - So Why Haven't Bar Disciplinary Referrals Followed? (FindLaw's Writ)