Rove, Domenici and Wilson

The story of seven U.S. attorneys being fired abruptly and together failed to register with Official Washington when it happened on Dec. 7. Minds were focused on critical power shifts taking place — in Congress, where Democrats took over after 12 years of GOP rule, and at the Pentagon, where Robert Gates got to pick up the pieces, and the war in Iraq, from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

But the latest in what is now a huge story is an acknowledgment yesterday from the White House that President Bush's top adviser — yes, that would be Karl Rove — has played a role. Apparently Rove has been directing complaints about U.S. attorneys to the Justice Department and several months ago assured a complainer, Allen Weh, that then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias was "gone." Weh is New Mexico's GOP chairman, by the way, and he told McClathy newspapers over the weekend that his response to what Rove said at a holiday party was "something close to 'Hallelujah.'"

New Mexico Republicans Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson were the first names implicated because they placed calls to Iglesias asking for information about indictments and he said he felt "sick" and pressured by their inquiries. Domenici has enjoyed a long career and the respect of his colleagues and has recently been mulling whether or not to retire or run again for reelection in 2008. For Wilson, heir apparent to Domenici's seat, a veteran, Air Force Academy graduate, Rhodes scholar and Ph.D. who is married to an attorney, the question of why she risked any hint of impropriety with that phone call is a harder one to answer.

Who will be surprised that Rove put politics first and may have crossed the ethical line here? It's all in a day's work over there at the White House. But for Wilson and Domenici, who have constituents to answer to, it may be the end of their careers.

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