Front and center in the US attorneys controversy is the former prosecutor from New Mexico, David Iglesias, "who has told various media outlets that two New Mexico lawmakers contacted him in mid-October 2006 to inquire about the pace of an ongoing corruption probe of local Democrats," as Roll Call notes. "Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) already has admitted to, and apologized for, making a phone call to Iglesias in mid-October. But Domenici denied doing anything improper... Various media reports have singled out Rep. Heather Wilson (R-N.M.) as the other lawmaker." Their alleged involvement could spark "the first major ethics probes of the 110th Congress," and could endanger their re-election prospects in 2008.
Wilson yesterday also "denied allegations from [Iglesias] that she pressured him to speed up a political corruption investigation involving Democrats in the waning days of her tight election campaign last fall."
Yesterday, the Justice Department official "who called to fire several U.S. attorneys late last year" announced his resignation.
More drip-drip: The former federal prosecutor in Maryland, Thomas M. DiBiagio, tells the New York Times that he was forced out of his post in 2005 due to his corruption investigation involving associates of former Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R).
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "defended the action as appropriate" in a Wall Street Journal interview, "but said the Justice Department handled the situation poorly... Internal Justice Department documents, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, show evaluations offering positive reviews for all the prosecutors' work as recently as last March. Mr. Gonzales said the written reviews were among several factors the department used to evaluate prosecutors."
Previewing his agenda for his upcoming seven-day, five-nation swing through Latin America, Bush yesterday "outlined past efforts to help the region while offering new plans for health care, education and business development," says USA Today. Some of Bush's "proposals seem aimed at countering the appeal of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, said Peter Hakim, president of the Inter-American Dialogue. Chávez has blamed U.S.-style economic policies for the persistence of poverty."
The Washington Post: "As he prepares to embark on a six-day trip to Latin America this week, the president is launching a new campaign to compete with Chavez for the region's hearts and minds, employing language mirroring the Venezuelan leader's leftist populism but rooted in traditional American conservatism."
More cardiovascular issues for Vice President Cheney.
HarperCollins will announce today that it's publishing Jenna Bush's Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope this fall. The book is about "a 17-year-old single mother in Panama who is living with HIV," and "will end with a 'call to action,'" Bush tells USA Today. "It will be illustrated with photographs by Mia Baxter, a former classmate of Bush's at the University of Texas." Bush "will donate her earnings to UNICEF. She says she 'very, very modestly' hopes her book will have some of the influence of two books about girls caught up in the Holocaust: Lois Lowry's novel Number the Stars and Anne Frank's The Diary of Anne Frank."