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Editors Gauge Impact of Attorney Firings on Gonzales

Following the firings of eight U.S. attorneys and the revelations of possible White House ties, four editorial page editors give their opinions on the fallout and impacts on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is defending himself against allegations that he misled Congress and the public about his involvement in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

    An internal Justice Department e-mail, released Friday night, shows he attended a meeting last November, 10 days before the firings. The e-mail seemed to contradict his earlier denial of involvement in the dismissals.

    The attorney general was interviewed last night on NBC.

  • ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. Attorney General:

    What I meant was that I had not been involved, was not involved in the deliberations over whether or not United States attorneys should resign. I don't recall being involved. Let me be more precise, because I now know that, with respect to this particular topic, people parse carefully the words that I use.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    In recent days, several influential Republican senators have questioned Gonzales' ability to continue in his post.

    SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), Pennsylvania: If we find he has not been candid and truthful, that's a very compelling reason for him not to stay on.

    GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, Anchor, "This Week": Do you think he can still serve effectively as attorney general?

    SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), Nebraska: Well, I do not. And I think the president is going to have to make a tough choice here.

    GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States: He's got support with me. I support the attorney general.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    The president has stood by his attorney general, a long-time confidante and friend. Mr. Bush has, in turn, blasted congressional Democrats for rejecting a proposal that key White House aides, Karl Rove and former counsel Harriet Miers in particular, talk to members behind closed doors without a transcript and not under oath.

  • GEORGE W. BUSH:

    My concern is they would rather be involved with, you know, partisanship. Maybe this is an opportunity to score political points.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Despite the president's stance, the Judiciary Committees in both houses of Congress voted last week to authorize subpoenas to White House aides, though they have yet to be formerly issued.

    And last night, the House followed an earlier Senate action and voted to strip the attorney general's office of the power to appoint U.S. attorneys without Senate confirmation.

    Also yesterday, Monica Goodling, an aide to Mr. Gonzales, said she would invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called to testify before Congress.

    As for public opinion, a poll out today from USA Today and Gallup shows that, by more than 3 to 1, those surveyed said that Congress should investigate White House involvement in the firings. And 68 percent believe subpoenas should be issued for White House officials in order to compel testimony.

    But while supportive of the inquiries overall, 59 percent of those polled said Democrats are investigating to gain political advantage, while just half that number believe they are motivated by real ethical concerns.