Prosecutor to Interview Key Witnesses About U.S. Attorney Firings

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A federal prosecutor investigating the dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys during the Bush administration has issued a subpoena to former senator Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.) and is preparing to interview key witnesses, lawyers following the case say.

Nora R. Dannehy, a public corruption prosecutor who helped convict Connecticut's GOP governor four years ago, was named last year to go to Capitol Hill and the Bush White House, where government officials declined to provide voluntary testimony to the Justice Department inspector general probing the firings.

At the time, Inspector General Glenn A. Fine urged prosecutors to use their subpoena power to compel documents and testimony about the dismissal of New Mexico U.S. Attorney David C. Iglesias, whose pace on criminal investigations involving Democrats in the state drew complaints from Domenici and then-Rep. Heather A. Wilson (R-N.M.).

The Dannehy investigation appears to be intensifying with the disclosure that she will interview former White House political affairs deputy J. Scott Jennings as early as today, lawyers involved in the case said. Jennings worked alongside Karl Rove, a top aide to President George W. Bush.

Jennings will "cooperate to the best of his ability" and is not a target in the case, lawyer Mark R. Paoletta said yesterday.

Through lawyer Robert D. Luskin, Rove also has said he will cooperate with Dannehy's investigation. K. Lee Blalack, an attorney for Domenici, declined to comment.

In recent weeks, Dannehy has requested documents through a grand jury operating out of the federal courthouse in Washington. When she was selected by then-Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey last year, she also was asked to examine public statements by former Justice Department officials about their knowledge of the firings.

-- Carrie Johnson

© 2009 The Washington Post Company