No Criminal Charges in U.S. Attorney Firings
By Ryan J. Reilly | July 21, 2010 4:15 pm

Nora Dannehy was named by then-U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate the U.S. Attorney firings. (Getty Images)

Justice Department officials said Wednesday that Assistant U.S. Attorney Nora Dannehy has concluded that no criminal charges are warranted in connection with the Bush administration’s firings of U.S. Attorneys in 2006.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed Dannehy, then-acting U.S. Attorney of Connecticut, in September 2008 as a special prosecutor to look into the firings, particularly that of former New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.

Dannehy also was tasked with determining whether White House or DOJ officials made false statements to Congress or to the Justice Department’s Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility, which also investigated the dismissals.

Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs Ronald Weich disclosed Dannehy’s findings in a letter to House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) dated Wednesday.

“Evidence did not demonstrate that any prosecutable criminal offense was committed with regard to the removal of David Iglesias,” Weich wrote in the letter. “The investigative team also determined that the evidence did not warrant expanding the scope of the investigation beyond the removal of Iglesias.”

Justice Department officials said Wednesday that the probe is now closed. The inquiry focused on Iglesias and the findings outlined in the letter related to the investigation of his dismissal, they said. No wider investigation was determined to be necessary.

According to Weich, Dannehy and her investigative team concluded that DOJ leadership never made a determination as to whether complaints about Iglesias were legitimate.

“While the actions of DOJ leadership were contrary to DOJ principles, they were not intended to and did not influence or in any way impede voter fraud prosecutions or a particular public corruption case,” Weich said.

The investigation also found that there was insufficient evidence to establish that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and Kyle Sampson, the Attorney General’s Chief of Staff, “knowingly made material false statements to OIG/OPR or Congress or corruptly endeavored to obstruct justice.”

Reached by Main Justice Wednesday, Gonzales said he had not yet reviewed the letter, but had heard the result of the investigation. He declined to comment until he had an opportunity to review the letter himself.

In an interview with Main Justice last month, Gonzales said he hoped the investigation would wrap up soon. He also said he needed to raise additional money to cover his legal bills related to the matter.

“We need to do a better effort raising additional money, and so we’re going to try to do that as soon as the last investigation [ends],” said Gonzales. “That investigation has been out there going on forever. I’m not sure what’s going on there, but we’re waiting for that to be completed. And once that’s completed — I have confidence that again [there was] no wrong-doing by me — that will again raise some interest in raising additional money.”

UPDATE:

Conyers said in a statement that it was clear that Dannehy’s decision not to bring criminal charges “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.”

He also pointed out that the probe “did not conclude that administration officials testified truthfully to Congress,” only that there was insufficient evidence to show they knowingly made false statement.

“I appreciate Attorney General Holder’s commitment to ensure that such conduct will not happen again,” Conyers said. “I am proud of the committee’s effort to bring the facts of this controversy to light, so that the American people themselves can judge the how Bush Justice Department abused our trust.”

UPDATE:

Gonzales’ lawyer, former Deputy Attorney General George J. Terwilliger III, said the Justice Department’s conclusion was long overdue.

“Those who made unwarranted allegations to the contrary owe him an apology,” said Terwilliger, a partner with White & Case LLP. “After having spent months cooperating with inquiries that produced no evidence of his wrongdoing, Judge Gonzales is pleased to be free to resume a career marked to date by service to the public.”

Conyers.Dannehy.OLA

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