Democrats Request Special Counsel Be Appointed to Investigate Perjury Charges Against Gonzales

Brian Zick

Laurie Kellman and Lara Jakes Jordan for AP report: Senate Democrats called for a perjury investigation against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Thursday and subpoenaed top presidential aide Karl Rove in a deepening political and legal clash with the Bush administration. "It has become apparent that the attorney general has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements," four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement. (…) Democrats issued a laundry list of examples of what one called Gonzales' "lying" before Congress. "We have now reached a point where the accumulated evidence shows that political considerations factored into the unprecedented firing of at least nine United States attorneys last year," said Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. (…) Also at issue, the Democrats said, is a conflict between Gonzales' testimony that he had not spoken with other witnesses about the firings and his former White House liaison's account of an "uncomfortable" conversation" in which the attorney general reviewed his recollection of the events and asked her opinion. (…) In a separate letter Thursday to Gonzales, Leahy said he would give the attorney general eight days to correct, clarify or otherwise change his testimony "so that, consistent with your oath, they are the whole truth." In their letter to Clement, the four senators wrote that Gonzales' testimony last year that there had been no internal dissent over the president's warrantless wiretapping program conflicted with testimony by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey and with Gonzales' own statements this week before the Judiciary Committee. They also said Gonzales falsely told the panel that he had not talked about the firings with other Justice Department officials. His former White House liaison, Monica Goodling, told the House Judiciary Committee under a grant of immunity that she had an "uncomfortable" conversation with Gonzales in which he outlined his recollection of what happened and asked her for her reaction. "The attorney general should be held to the highest ethical standards," the senators wrote. Clement would decide whether to appoint a special prosecutor because Gonzales and outgoing Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty have recused themselves from the investigation that involves them. The Justice Department's No. 3 official, Associate Attorney General William Mercer, is serving only in an acting capacity and therefore does not have the authority to do so.

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