Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
MIAMI � The eight U.S. attorneys fired by former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales were not the only ones affected by the political scandal that eventually brought Gonzales down and damaged the reputation of the U.S. Department of Justice. Matthew D. Orwig, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Texas until May, said he was on another list � not the firing list, but the “loyal Bushie” list. And he didn’t appreciate that designation, either. “I consider that just as demeaning as being called insubordinate,” said Orwig, now a partner in the Dallas office of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. “It made it sound like I was just some political hack and not doing my job. Every single district was affected by this.” Orwig spoke out during a panel discussion about the now infamous U.S. attorney firings held during last weekend’s National Association of Former United States Attorneys (NAFUSA) conference in Miami Beach, Fla. Three of the eight fired U.S. attorneys � David Iglesias of Albuquerque, N.M.; Bud Cummins of Little Rock, Ark.; and John McKay of Seattle � spoke before the powerful group of about 100 former U.S. attorneys. NAFUSA had protested the firings in a letter to Gonzales, which was read before Congress in March. No blame for Bush The three � along with audience members � concurred that Gonzales was chiefly to blame for the firings, although McKay said he didn’t believe former Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty’s public denials of knowledge of the reasons behind the firings. None blamed President George W. Bush or anyone in the White House. “I would expect Bush and Karl Rove to try something like this,” Cummins said in an interview later, adding that his support for Bush has not waned. “That’s what they do. But the attorney general is supposed to block the politics.” The group also shared a belief that Gonzales’ mistake was acting as if he were White House general counsel rather than attorney general, the person charged with upholding the Constitution at all costs. Former Attorney General John Ashcroft would not have allowed the political firings to occur, they said. “There were considerable differences between Ashcroft and Gonzales,” said McKay. “Ashcroft was a very capable administrator and had capable people around him. I had some disagreements in closed session with him. He actually welcomed that.” Iglesias agreed. “In my first meeting with Ashcroft, he made it crystal clear that politics would stop at my door,” he said. “That left an indelible mark on me.” By contrast, in their first meeting with Gonzales, McKay said, the U.S. attorneys were struck by one comment the former attorney general made. “He said, ‘You work for the president.’ We all looked at each other. We work for the people and for the law, not for the president.” McKay said he was shocked, because he had known Gonzales before, and “I thought he was going to be a great attorney general. I was wrong.” McKay, now a law professor, has a law journal article coming out soon in which he predicts that Gonzales could face obstruction of justice or perjury charges. A report is expected shortly from the Inspector General’s Office of the U.S. Department of Justice about whether Gonzales violated any criminal laws. But Cummins disagreed with the notion that politics never enters a U.S. attorney’s office. “We do politics all the time,” he said, noting that Project Safe Neighborhood � a federal anti-crime program � “is all about trying to make my president look good. Let’s not get too sanctimonious and say politics has never been injected into the office. We’ve had micromanagement from the Department of Justice before.” But Gonzales clearly crossed the line with the firings, Cummins said. Gonzales could not be reached for comment. Cummins claims he was fired to make room for a Rove loyalist, Timothy Griffin. Iglesias was fired, it came out in congressional hearings, because he failed to rush an indictment of a prominent Democrat and to find voter fraud cases to prosecute as a way of removing Democratic voters from the rolls. McKay was fired because he refused to investigate the closest governor’s race in U.S. history, which a Democrat won by 129 votes.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

Reprints & Licensing
Mentioned in a Law.com story?

License our industry-leading legal content to extend your thought leadership and build your brand.


ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.