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Gonzales Testifies Before Senate on Attorney Firings

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, fielding questions about his interaction with former Attorney General John Ashcroft and about the firings of U.S. attorneys.

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  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was given another chance today to provide his account of the firings of nine federal prosecutors late last year and other matters. He faced a tough audience.

    SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), Vermont: I don't trust you.

    SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), Pennsylvania: Is your department functioning?

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    It was Gonzales' first appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee since former officials of his department gave testimony that contrasted sharply with his own recollections. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy.

  • SEN. PATRICK LEAHY:

    Three months ago, when Attorney General Gonzales last appeared before this committee, I said that the Department of Justice was experiencing a crisis of leadership perhaps unrivaled during its history. Unfortunately, the crisis has not abated. Until there is independence and transparency and accountability, the crises will continue. The attorney general has lost the confidence of the Congress and the American people.

  • KWAME HOLMAN:

    Ranking Republican Arlen Specter even raised the prospect of appointing a special prosecutor to investigate whether the Justice Department fired the prosecutors at the direction of the White House.

  • SEN. ARLEN SPECTER:

    The attorney general has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor. You're recused, but somebody else could do it.

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