US House panel questions Gonzales on US Attorney firings

[JURIST] Members of the US House Judiciary Committee [official website] questioned [hearing materials] Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Thursday about the US Attorney firing scandal [JURIST news archive], demanding to know whether White House officials ordered the firings of prosecutors for political reasons. Gonzales said his former chief of staff Kyle Sampson [DOJ press release] was mainly responsible for compiling the list of prosecutors to be dismissed, but acknowledged that presidential adviser Karl Rove [official profile] had earlier discussed voter fraud prosecutions [JURIST report] in three jurisdictions with Gonzales. The US Attorney in one of those jurisdictions was later fired, and allegations have surfaced that US Attorneys were evaluated on whether they pursued voter fraud cases that benefited Republican candidates.

A series of emails released by the Department of Justice in March revealed that Rove originally suggested firing all 93 US Attorneys [JURIST report] in January 2005, contradicting earlier assertions by the White House that the idea first came from former White House counsel Harriet Miers. The same month, the Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed [JURIST report] Rove, Miers, and Sampson, rejecting Bush's interview offer. The House Judiciary Committee later subpoenaed Rove, Miers, and several aides [JURIST report] to testify in a concurrent investigation. The Department of Justice is currently investigating [JURIST report] whether Gonzales' former White House liaison Monica Goodling considered political affiliation in hiring replacement US attorneys in violation of federal law. AP has more.



 

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