By Carrie Johnson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, July 31, 2009
Political adviser Karl Rove and other high-ranking figures in the Bush White House played a greater role than previously understood in the firing of federal prosecutors almost three years ago, according to e-mails obtained by The Washington Post, in a scandal that led to mass Justice Department resignations and an ongoing criminal probe.
The e-mails and new interviews with key participants reflect contacts among Rove, aides in the Bush political affairs office and White House lawyers about the dismissal of three of the nine U.S. attorneys fired in 2006: New Mexico's David C. Iglesias, the focus of ire from GOP lawmakers; Missouri's Todd Graves, who had clashed with one of Rove's former clients; and Arkansas's Bud Cummins, who was pushed out to make way for a Rove protégé.
The documents and interviews provide new information about efforts by political aides in the Bush White House, for example, to push a former colleague as a favored candidate for one of the U.S. attorney posts. They also reflect the intensity of efforts by lawmakers and party officials in New Mexico to unseat the top prosecutor there. Rove described himself as merely passing along complaints by senators and state party officials to White House lawyers.
The e-mails emerged as Rove finished his second day of closed-door-testimony Thursday about the firings to the House Judiciary Committee. For years, Rove and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers had rejected efforts by lawmakers to obtain their testimony and their correspondence about the issue, citing executive privilege. The House sued, igniting a court fight that was resolved this year after discussions among lawyers for former president George W. Bush and President Obama.