WASHINGTON -- Senator Pete V. Domenici of New Mexico acknowledged yesterday that he called a federal prosecutor to ask about a criminal investigation, but insisted that he never pressured nor threatened his state's US attorney.
The prosecutor, David Iglesias, was fired by the Justice Department in December.
Iglesias says he believes he was dismissed for resisting pressure from two members of Congress before last year's election to rush indictments in a Democratic kickback inquiry.
Iglesias, a Republican, has said he will not name the lawmakers unless asked under oath.
A House Judiciary subcommittee has subpoenaed the prosecutor to appear tomorrow and testify under oath. Iglesias also is scheduled to appear before a Senate committee.
In his statement yesterday, Domenici, also a Republican, said he called Iglesias last year and asked whether the prosecutor could tell him what was going on in the investigation, and whether he could provide a time frame.
"In retrospect, I regret making that call, and I apologize," Domenici said in the statement. "However, at no time in that conversation or any other conversation with Mr. Iglesias did I ever tell him what course of action I thought he should take on any legal matter. I have never pressured him nor threatened him in any way."
Communication by a member of Congress with a federal prosecutor about an ongoing criminal investigation may constitute an ethics violation.