Las Vegas Sun

December 1, 2021

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Home again for once-ousted U.S. attorney

After being fired in what was widely regarded as a political move, Daniel Bogden will soon return to Las Vegas to resume his old job

Daniel Bogden

KEVIN CLIFFORD / SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Daniel Bogden, fired from his job as U.S. attorney for Nevada in 2007 by the Bush administration, was recently confirmed for the position again.

Soon after the presidential election in November, Daniel Bogden was attending a settlement conference at the U.S. courthouse here in a complex contractual case. A civil attorney with one of Reno’s leading firms, he had stepped outside during a break when his secretary told him Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was trying to reach him.

When he returned to the conference room, he must have looked ashen faced. His clients asked, “Did someone die?”

Rather, it looked like he might be getting his old job back. “It knocked my socks off,” he said.

Bogden was confirmed Sept. 15 by the Senate to become the U.S. attorney in Nevada. He plans to be sworn in Thursday at ceremony in Reno. Then he will move to Las Vegas and resume the job as the senior federal law-enforcement officer in the state. He will manage an office with 52 assistant prosecutors that ferrets out drug, gang and violent crimes, illegal immigration and financial and mortgage fraud.

It was a strange full circle for Bogden, who nearly three years ago was fired from the same position along with eight other U.S. attorneys in a move criticized as nakedly political. It led to a swath of congressional and federal investigations and ultimately cost Attorney General Alberto Gonzales his post.

Bogden had held the job for five years when he was booted in February 2007. In the months that followed, he did not know what to do, where to turn. He spent those long weeks in deep introspection.

“You go through this self-evaluation process, and not really knowing what happened made that process all the more difficult to get through,” he said in an interview at his office with the civil litigation firm of McDonald Carano Wilson.

He kept thinking, “I spent 25 years in law enforcement and all of a sudden that came to a screeching halt, and it was difficult to reconcile the reasons why. It was an awful experience. And I had pretty much decided I was never going to be given the opportunity to go back as United States attorney.”

By June 2007, he decided “it was time to get back to work.” But his love was always criminal prosecution, even as far back as his five years as an Air Force lawyer and then as a career federal prosecutor.

Then came Reid’s call, asking if he would be interested in going back.

“That was something of a defining moment,” Bogden said. “Instead of calculating and thinking it through, my response was an immediate yes. I told him, ‘Yes, I would consider it.’ ”

He said he was flattered at just being asked — and figured he was just “one of many” — and then began to worry because months passed and nothing happened. In March Reid told him — again to Bogden’s surprise — that he would recommend his name to President Barack Obama.

Despite his resume, the Obama administration put him through another tough vetting process, much like when he was nominated in 2001 by President George W. Bush. A full FBI background check was reopened; fresh interviews were conducted with contacts he had made since leaving the federal government.

Twice he appeared before interview panels at the Justice Department and Attorney General Eric Holder’s staff, and with White House officials as well. He met Holder and other new top Justice officials.

Still, he was unsure where this was going. Even after watching on the Internet as the Senate Judiciary Committee recommended his confirmation, he was told to expect a long delay, mindful that politics might postpone his confirmation. He was told by officials to expect delays because some senators were “red-flagging” some of the Justice nominations. “It looked like it was going to take awhile,” he said.

Then suddenly, this month, he was confirmed unanimously by the full Senate. He went home and spent the rest of the afternoon with his wife. They plan to move to Las Vegas where, perhaps fortuitously, he had kept his condo.

He expects more meetings with Justice officials to start shaping how the Nevada office will work and meld with national priorities.

Noting that Holder’s first goal is to protect national security, Bogden said, federal, state and local officials have been working together at so-called Fusion Centers in Southern and Northern Nevada. Without that kind of cooperation, cases could be jeopardized, and he mentioned the still-unfolding federal investigation into terrorism suspects in New York and Denver in which competing egos among law enforcement officials apparently led to an imam being improperly used as an informant.

“There appeared to be some head-knocking there,” he said. “We can’t have that. Everyone’s got to play together.”

He compared it to a joint effort between federal and local officials in Nevada to fight mortgage and other financial frauds, with the FBI committing more agents to white-collar crime.

Bogden also hopes to keep staffing levels high. When he left the office, he had money for only 38 assistant prosecutors. But the office budget has risen since his departure and he hopes to add more. “Give me more resources, and there is more we can do,” he said.

But he returns to the job with a bit of trepidation. It is the deja vu that worries him. Last time, at a loss to explain why he was let go, the White House suggested he was not tough enough on illegal immigration and pornography.

Former Bush political adviser Karl Rove echoed those assertions in interviews in July with the House Judiciary Committee. “The reason he was replaced was he refused to prosecute immigration cases, which obviously is a problem in Clark County, Las Vegas, and that he also refused to prosecute Internet child pornography cases,” Rove said.

Bogden said Rove was wrong on both counts. “Our numbers were always good when it came to immigration prosecutions,” he said, and that his office increased its child pornography cases six- and seven-fold.

And frankly, he said, “I never heard any negative reports from Washington or elsewhere that we weren’t doing anything but a good job.”

So he returns a bit wiser, knowing that nothing is static, understanding no one knows what tomorrow brings. “I realize now that nothing in life’s a given,” he said. “All you can do is do your best.”

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