By Susan Crabtree and Molly K. Hooper - 08/11/09 05:06 PM EDT
Hundreds of e-mails, transcripts and notes released by a House panel on Tuesday show that former White House political adviser Karl Rove was directly involved in the firing of New Mexico's U.S. attorney.
The House Judiciary Committee released 6,000 pages in documents, which were obtained through an exhaustive, two-year investigation.
Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said the investigation revealed a concerted effort on behalf of Rove and other White House officials to remove Iglesias and other U.S. attorneys for political reasons.
"After all the delay and despite all the obfuscation, lies, and spin," Conyers said in a release, "this basic truth can no longer be denied: Karl Rove and his cohorts at the Bush White House were the driving force behind several of these firings, which were done for improper reasons."
But some Republicans, including Judiciar's ranking Republican, Rep. Lamar Smith (Texas), said the e-mails and interviews showed no wrongdoing on the part of the White House.
"Despite all the evidence to the contrary, House Democrats continue to falsely accuse former Bush administration official Karl Rove of wrongdoing in the dismissal of several U.S. attorneys," Smith said in a statement. "But the interviews reveal no evidence of wrongdoing in the firings"
Republicans and Democrats disagree on whether presidents can fire U.S. attorneys for political reasons. Some Republicans believe the prosecutors can be fired for any reasons because they are at-will White House appointees.
Conyers specifically pointed to a string of e-mails from former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) that criticized Iglesias for not initiating investigations into Democrats in Albuquerque that could have helped New Mexico Republicans. Wilson raised her complaints to the White House in the run up to the 2006 elections.
Scott Jennings, a Rove aide, forwarded Wilson's e-mail to Rove and complained that Iglesias had been "œshy about doing his job" on Patricia Madrid, Wilson's Democratic opponent in the 2006 race.
Weeks after that e-mail exchange, Iglesias's name was placed on the final firing list.
In addition, an agitated Rove pressed Miers to do something about Iglesias just weeks before Iglesias was placed on the removal list. According to Mier's testimony to Congressional investigators, Rove phoned her during a visit to New Mexico in September 2006 and told her Iglesias was "a serious problem and he wanted something done about it."
Rove and Miers agreed to interviews for Conyers's probe after President Barack Obama won election to the White House.
During the Bush administration, both refused to be interviewed by Congressional investigators.