|Attorney General Gonzales(AP)|
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is under new political heat after two more Republicans came out against him and Democrats broadened their probe of prosecutor firings to questions of whether he politicized the Justice Department at the White House's behest.
Gonzales, who some believed had survived the furor over the firings, came under new pressure Wednesday when Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., became the fourth Republican senator to urge him to resign. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., also said the attorney general should consider stepping down.
President Bush continued to stand by his longtime friend and adviser.
The developments came as Democrats sought more testimony from current and former Justice Department officials. House Democrats announced that Gonzales' former White House liaison, Monica Goodling, would testify next week under a grant of immunity.
Across the Capitol, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday was considering a subpoena for Bradley Schlozman, a former senior civil rights attorney and U.S. attorney who replaced Todd Graves in Missouri. Graves also was ordered to resign.
At issue is whether the department, at the White House's urging, tried to cause problems for Democrats by facilitating voter fraud cases and others involving corruption.
Bush's support has been key to Gonzales' survival in office despite calls for his resignation from Democrats and a few Republicans.
Their numbers grew Wednesday, driven by the testimony this week that as White House counsel, Gonzales in 2004 pressured Attorney General John Ashcroft to certify the legality of Bush's no-warrant eavesdropping program. The conversation took place at Ashcroft's hospital bed side as the attorney general recuperated from pancreatitis, James Comey, acting attorney general, testified this week.
Ashcroft rebuffed Gonzales, but the White House certified the program's legality anyway. Faced with the resignations of Ashcroft, Comey and FBI Director Robert Mueller, Bush ordered the program be changed to accommodate Justice's objections.
Democrats said his testimony appeared to contradict Gonzales' account in February 2006, when he told two congressional panels that there had "not been any serious disagreement about the program."
Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman said Gonzales' testimony "was and remains accurate."
"While the attorney general provided this testimony in an unclassified setting, it is important to consider that the fact and nature of such disagreements have been briefed to the intelligence committees," Boyd said.
Joining Hagel in demanding Gonzales' resignation are GOP Sens. John Sununu of New Hampshire, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John McCain of Arizona, who is a presidential candidate. House Republican Conference Chair Adam Putman of Florida also has called for a new attorney general.