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Archive for Sunday, March 25, 2007

White House, GOP senator back Gonzales

March 25, 2007

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— The White House and a key Republican senator reaffirmed support Saturday for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales even as Democrats questioned his credibility for apparently misrepresenting his role in firing eight federal prosecutors.

Critics said the latest document disclosure - more than 280 pages of e-mails, calendar notations and other documents sent to Congress late Friday - bolstered their case for Gonzales' ouster.

Yet one longtime ally who largely has kept quiet about the attorney general's fate issued a statement of support.

"He has always been straightforward and honest with me," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. "So, unless there is clear evidence that the attorney general deliberately lied or misled Congress, I see no reason to call for his resignation."

Gonzales has said he participated in no discussions and saw no memos about plans to carry out the firings on Dec. 7 that Democrats contend were politically motivated.

His schedule, however, shows he attended at least one hourlong meeting, on Nov. 27, where he approved a detailed plan to execute the prosecutors' firings.

Democrats said the new documents appear to show Gonzales was more involved than he claimed earlier.

"How much scrutiny do we have to put behind everything the attorney general says?" the House Judiciary Committee chairman said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I know he's busy, and he could have done things that he didn't remember, but we're going to give him as much rope as he needs," said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich.

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who heads the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the Nov. 27 meeting "widens the gap between the evolving explanations the Bush administration has offered and the facts that keep coming to light."

But White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said the documents do not conflict with Gonzales' earlier statements.

"The president continues to have confidence in the attorney general," Perino said. "As the Justice Department said last night, these new documents are not inconsistent with its previous statements."

Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said Saturday there are no plans for Gonzales to resign.

Also, several Republicans in both the House and Senate said they needed to learn more about how closely he was involved in the firings. Still stopping short of calling for Gonzales' resignation, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., "thinks it's better to have an attorney general that Congress has confidence in," spokesman R.C. Hammond said.

At issue were statements Gonzales made at a March 13 news conference that appear to conflict with what the documents show.

Comments

Frank Smith 7 years, 9 months ago

This story above conflicts with this AP report:

WASHINGTON - Republican support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales eroded Sunday as three key (Republican)senators sharply questioned his truthfulness ...

"We have to have an attorney general who is candid and truthful. And if we find out he's not been candid and truthful, that's a very compelling reason for him not to stay on," said Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department.

Specter, R-Pa., said he would wait until Gonzales' scheduled April 17 testimony to the committee on the dismissals before deciding whether he could continue to support the attorney general. He called it a "make or break" appearance.

To Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., Gonzales "does have a credibility problem... We govern with one currency, and that's trust. And that trust is all important. And when you lose or debase that currency, then you can't govern. And I think he's going to have some difficulties."

Hagel cited changing stories from the Justice Department about the circumstances for firing the eight U.S. attorneys. "I don't know if he got bad advice or if he was not involved in the day-to-day management. I don't know what the problem is, but he's got a problem. You cannot have the nation's chief law enforcement officer with a cloud hanging over his credibility," Hagel said.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Gonzales has been "wounded" by the firings. `He has said some things that just don't add up," said Graham, who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Frank Smith 7 years, 9 months ago

I realize that Agnostik has trouble reading between the lines, and sometimes has trouble reading plain English, but the story implies that, though Democrats support 'Beto's ouster, that Republicans don't. The story I posted goes to the latter point. In fact, Specter and Grassley backed the issuance of subpoenas by Senate Judiciary in a voice vote (Grassley pointedly) that will certainly soon have Gonzales off the public dole.

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