Job performance was not the reason for the removal of former U.S. Attorney for Nevada Daniel Bogden, a top Justice Department official told Congress.
Appearing under oath before a House Judiciary subcommittee, William Moschella said Tuesday that the federal district including Las Vegas was important to the department and that Bogden was asked to step down to bring "renewed energy and renewed vigor in that office."
Bogden, 51, one of six federal prosecutors summoned to speak before the committee, testified that he was disappointed that he was never given a solid reason for being asked to resign.
"It is not a whole lot of solace to realize I was asked to step down so new blood could be put in my position," Bogden said. "I think we have accomplished things that we needed to accomplish and followed through on what the attorney general wanted as far as priorities."
Congressional Democrats have criticized the removal by the Bush administration of eight U.S. attorneys around the nation in recent weeks as politically motivated.
Discussing six cases one by one, Moschella told lawmakers that most prosecutors were replaced for reasons of "policy, priorities and management." The reason was disputed by the prosecutors, and Democratic lawmakers said they remained unconvinced.
Carol Lam of San Diego was let go because her prosecution of gun
cases and immigration cases lagged, Moschella said.
John McKay of Seattle promoted an information system that headquarters did not want, David Iglesias of New Mexico gave too much control to assistants, and Paul Charlton of Arizona defied superiors on a death penalty case and taped confessions in child molestation cases, against Justice Department policy, Moschella said.
However, job performance was not cited as a reason for firing Bogden or for the removal of Bud Cummins of Little Rock, Ark. Cummins was replaced by an assistant recently returned from Iraq who had worked in the White House under Karl Rove.
No successor has been announced for Bogden. Chief Assistant U.S.
Attorney Steven Myhre is filling the position on an interim basis.
Bogden told the committee that after 16 1/2 years in the Justice
Department, including more than five years as chief prosecutor for
Nevada, it was a "traumatic and emotional" to be told his
government career was over.
Bogden, who began serving in October 2001, noted that he received positive marks in a 2003 evaluation of his office, and high grades in 2005 for prosecutions of white collar crime, drugs, public corruption, organized crime, identify theft and crime in Indian country.
Bogden testified he was asked Dec. 7 to step down by Michael Battle, director of the executive office of U.S. attorneys, but was not given a reason.
He said acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer, a friend and a U.S. attorney from Montana, told him the Bush administration had a two-year window to name new United States attorneys.
Bogden said he understood the appointments would allow the administration to place prosecutors in positions to build their resumes and get experience for possible elevation to federal judge "or other political type positions."
"So you were told you were being fired to make way for some Republican loyalist or political up-and-comer who the administration wanted to pad their resume?" said Rep, Melvin Watt, D-N.C.
"That's what it seemed to me," Bogden said.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)