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Bush 'troubled' by mistakes in handling US Attorney firings

[JURIST] President Bush on Wednesday said he was "troubled" by what he called a lack of straightforward communication [transcript] between the US Justice Department [official website] and Congress regarding the firings last year of eight US Attorneys that may have been politically motivated [JURIST report]. Speaking at a news conference in Mexico, Bush nonetheless said he continued to have confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] and maintained that the firings were appropriate. Gonzales said Tuesday he would not resign [AP recorded video] but nonetheless accepted responsibility for "mistakes" in how the firings were handled.

According to e-mails [PDF; set 2, PDF] revealed Tuesday, Gonzales' Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson [profile] and former White House counsel Harriet Miers [official profile; JURIST news archive] suggested firing [JURIST report] all 93 US Attorneys [DOJ backgrounder] at the beginning of President Bush's second term. Sampson resigned [press release] from his position Monday. Comprehensive dismissals of top federal prosecutors are not unprecedented; Clinton administration Attorney-General Janet Reno fired all 93 US Attorneys at the beginning of President Clinton's first term.

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 Tuesday, 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 [JURIST report] Monday in the wake of revelations [JURIST report] 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. AP has more.

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