The Democratic-led Congress is investigating whether eight U.S. attorneys were recently fired for political reasons. Six of the eight fired prosecutors have testified before Congress. At least two have cited their rejection of pressure to act in politically charged cases as possible factors behind their dismissal.
William Moschella, a top Justice Department official, told lawmakers that none of the fired prosecutors had been improperly pressured or removed to make room for Republican political allies.
"This administration has never removed a United States attorney to retaliate against them. Not once," Moschella said.
The Justice Department announced the dismissal of seven of the prosecutors in December. An eighth prosecutor was ousted earlier, in June 2006. Below, a look at the prosecutors and the reasons given for their dismissal:
David Iglesias of Albuquerque, N.M. — Iglesias told lawmakers that he "felt leaned on" by Sen. Pete Domenici and Rep. Heather Wilson (both R-NM) last fall to rush indictments against Democrats before Election Day in November. Moschella says Iglesias was fired because "the district was in need of greater leadership." A 2005 Justice Department performance review found that Iglesias had a "well-conceived strategic plan." (Iglesias Discusses His Dismissal)
Carol Lam of San Diego, Calif. — Lam prosecuted former Republican Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, now in federal prison for accepting bribes. Moschella told Congress that Lam was let go because she wasn't aggressive enough in prosecuting immigration and gun cases. But a 2005 performance review cited Lam as "an effective manager and respected leader." (Timeline of Lam's Firing)
H.E. "Bud" Cummins of Little Rock, Ark. — Cummins left his job in June 2006, before the other fired attorneys. He was replaced by former Karl Rove assistant Timothy Griffin. Last month, Cummins wrote an e-mail to other fired prosecutors in which he warned of a "message" conveyed by a Justice Department official: If they continued to talk with news reporters, the agency "would feel forced to somehow pull their gloves off" and fight back.
Moschella says Cummins' dismissal was not performance-related. "The administration asked Mr. Cummins to move on only after we knew that he had indicated he was not going to serve out the remainder of his term," Moschella told lawmakers. (Cummins Discusses His Dismissal)
John McKay of Seattle — McKay said he stopped a top aide to Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) from asking him detailed questions about an investigation into the disputed election of Washington state's Democratic governor, Christine Gregoire, in 2004. Moschella says McKay was let go due to policy differences. (McKay Discusses His Testimony)
Daniel Bogden of Las Vegas, Nev. — Bogden told lawmakers that he was never given a solid reason for why he was asked to resign. Moschella testified that Bogden's job performance was not an issue; rather, Justice officials wanted to inject "renewed vigor" into the Las Vegas office.
Paul Charlton of Phoenix, Ariz. — Charlton said he resigned over policy disputes. Moschella says Charlton disagreed with Justice Department guidelines on the death penalty and the tape-recording of FBI interviews.
Kevin Ryan of San Francisco — Ryan was overseeing high-profile investigations into steroids use by Major League Baseball players and the backdating of stock options by Apple Inc., and other Silicon Valley firms. Administrators point to complaints about Ryan's management style as proof that his firing was not politically motivated. During Ryan's tenure, many veteran prosecutors left the Bay Area office, where staff morale was reportedly low.
Ryan has not testified before Congress about his dismissal. When he announced his resignation to his staff in January, Ryan said he was leaving "for a variety of personal and professional reasons."
Margaret Chiara of Grand Rapids, Mich. — Chiara was the first woman to lead a federal prosecution office in Michigan. According to a report from Newhouse News Services, U.S. District Judge Robert Holmes Bell said Chiara was one of the best U.S. attorneys he has observed in the last 20 years. But Moschella told Congress that Chiara had poor management skills. She has not testified about her dismissal before Congress.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.