Senate committee subpoenas five DOJ aides in US Attorney firing scandal
Joshua Pantesco at 2:21 PM ET
[JURIST] The US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] agreed by voice-vote Thursday to issue subpoenas compelling five current and former DOJ aides and six fired US Attorneys to testify before the committee on whether their firings were politically motivated [JURIST report]. Along with six of the eight Attorneys who were fired under questionable circumstances last year, the Committee also authorized subpoenas for:Michael Elston, chief of staff for Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty;
Kyle Sampson [profile], chief of staff for Gonzales, who resigned last week [press release];
Monica Goodling, Justice Department spokesperson;
Bill Mercer, an associate attorney general; and
Mike Battle, Director of the Executive Office of US Attorneys.
In his opening statement [text] to the committee Thursday, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website] commented on testimony [prepared remarks] previously given by US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile]:
On Tuesday, we witnessed the Attorney General himself claiming lack of personal knowledge and the need for an investigation to get to the bottom of this affair. Of course his pronouncement comes almost two months after he testified under oath before this Committee rather definitively that there was no cause for concern.AP has more.
The Attorney General has previously written to Chairman Specter following a hearing in which he apparently gave inaccurate information. I would not be surprised to receive a similar letter from him taking back his January 18 testimony this year. It was at best misleading and inaccurate, as was the testimony of his Deputy Attorney General in February and his special assistant before the House Judiciary Committee last week.
President Bush said Wednesday he was "troubled" by mistakes in the firings [JURIST report]. Gonzales said Tuesday he would not resign [AP recorded video] but nonetheless accepted responsibility for "mistakes" in how the firings were handled. Shortly after Bush's comments Wednesday, Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) [official website] became the first Republican to publicly call for Gonzales' resignation [press release; AP report], following up on several Democratic calls for his dismissal. In response to Gonzales' comments, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) [official website], among others, renewed his calls for Gonzales to resign in a statement [recorded video] on the Senate floor. Several high-ranking Democratic senators also called for Gonzales' resignation Monday in the wake of revelations [JURIST reports] in an official audit that the FBI broke and misused laws in obtaining personal information from telephone companies, Internet service providers, banks, and credit bureaus under the Patriot Act.
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