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Prosecutors Say They Felt Pressured, Threatened

Former U.S. attorney David C. Iglesias of New Mexico, with former U.S. attorney Carol S. Lam of San Diego, testifies on Capitol Hill.
Former U.S. attorney David C. Iglesias of New Mexico, with former U.S. attorney Carol S. Lam of San Diego, testifies on Capitol Hill. (By Lauren Victoria Burke -- Associated Press)

About 10 days later, Iglesias said, Domenici's chief of staff, Steve Bell, called Iglesias at his home in New Mexico and "indicated there were some complaints by constituents." Domenici then got on the phone for a conversation that lasted "one to two minutes," Iglesias recalled.

"Are these going to be filed before November?" Domenici asked, Iglesias testified, referring to the kickback case. Unnerved by the call, Iglesias said he responded that they were not.

"I'm sorry to hear that," Domenici replied, according to Iglesias, who added that the senator then hung up.

"I felt sick afterward," Iglesias said, acknowledging that he did not report the calls to Washington as required under Justice rules. "I felt leaned on. I felt pressured to get these matters moving."

Domenici stressed in a statement issued yesterday that Iglesias "confirmed" that the senator never mentioned the November election and that he had no idea why the prosecutor felt "violated." In a separate statement, Wilson said she was only passing on complaints from unidentified constituents and apologized for any "confusion" about the call.

In the e-mail released yesterday, Cummins wrote that Elston called him after a Feb. 18 Washington Post article, which quoted Cummins as criticizing Justice officials for blaming the firings on performance problems. He said that he defended his remarks, and that he made a point of noting that the prosecutors had declined invitations to testify before Congress.

"He reacted quite a bit to the idea of anyone voluntarily testifying," Cummins wrote, adding 8later: "I don't want to stir you up . . . or overstate the threatening undercurrent in the call, but the message was clearly there and you should be aware before you speak to the press again if you choose to do that."

Cummins testified that he did not feel threatened by the conversation, but others, including Iglesias and McKay, said they took it as such.

Former U.S. attorneys Daniel Bogden of Las Vegas and Paul Charlton of Phoenix also testified.


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