Legal Ethics

Probe of US Prosecutor Firings Heats Up

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Ongoing investigations by Congress and the Department of Justice of the alleged politically motivated dismissal of nine U.S. attorneys are reportedly heading toward the boiling point.

Citing anonymous sources, the Hill reports that investigations by the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility, in particular, may result in startling news prior to the November election.

“Investigators from these offices,” the Capitol Hill publication says, “have been questioning whether senior officials lied to Congress, violated the criminal provisions in the Hatch Act, tampered with witnesses preparing to testify to Congress, obstructed justice, took improper political considerations into account during the hiring and firing of U.S. attorneys and created widespread problems in the department’s Civil Rights Division, according to several people familiar with the investigation.”

Meanwhile, the House and Senate ethics committees are investigating whether Republican members of Congress improperly interfered with investigative efforts.

“I think it could be historic,” says David Iglesias, a former U.S. attorney in New Mexico who was among the nine prosecutors reportedly ordered by the Bush administration to resign, based on political considerations. “Arguably it’s the most significant investigation OPR and OIG have done in a generation, or maybe ever.”

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