The New York Times has more on yesterday’s news that New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson won’t be charged in a yearlong probe into pay-to-play allegations involving one of his donors.
The Associated Press, which broke the story, reported that the decision to kill the investigation was made by “top Justice Department officials.”
This, of course, could be interpreted in a number of ways — for one, that political appointees in Washington scotched a probe into the activities of President Barack Obama’s would-have-been commerce secretary.
But the Times reports that U.S. Attorney Gregory J. Fouratt, a Republican, made the call, and that “top Justice Department officials concurred with Mr. Fouratt’s decision to drop the inquiry.” The Times attributes the information to “government officials informed of the decision.”
The Times, citing grand jury witnesses, also notes that the agreement to extend the statute of limitations was set to expire on Friday. No one from the Justice Department had asked them to sign another one.
In a letter to the witnesses, Fouratt said his office would not pursue the charges, but he was not gracious in defeat. The prosecutor wrote that “pressure from the governor’s office resulted in the corruption of the procurement process” and said that the letter “should not be interpreted as exoneration of any party’s conduct in that matter.”