Senate ramps up pressure on Bush

Democrats Thursday demanded a perjury probe against embattled US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, as the Senate whipped up a new legal row by subpoenaing White House political guru Karl Rove.

The double-pronged assault came as a senator investigating a scandal over fired federal prosecutors said President George W. Bush was guilty of Nixon-style obstruction, prompting an angry White House counter-attack.

Gonzales, one of Bush’s closest aides, faced new demands for his resignation, and took another blow as the director of the FBI contradicted an element of his testimony during a tense Senate committee hearing this week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas against Rove and Scott Jennings, deputy White House political director, to compel testimony in a row over prosecutors who Bush critics say were fired for political reasons.

A group of Democratic senators meanwhile asked Solicitor General Paul Clement to open a perjury probe into Gonzales’s testimony during his Senate grilling on Tuesday.

“The attorney general took an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” said Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer.

“Instead, he tells the half-truth, the partial truth and everything but the truth — and he does it not once, not twice, but over and over and over again.”

At the center of the latest storm is a March 2004 meeting between White House aides and lawmakers and a visit to the bedside of the then-seriously ill attorney general John Ashcroft, while Gonzales was a White House official.

Gonzales maintains the meeting addressed “intelligence activities” that were under legal dispute and has denied it focused on warrantless wiretaps.

But FBI Director Robert Mueller appeared to contradict that, in testimony before the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee on Thursday, saying it was a discussion on an NSA (National Security Agency) program “that has been much discussed,” referring to the wiretap operations.

The Rove subpoena landed a day after the House Judiciary Committee issued contempt of Congress citations against White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten and ex-legal counsel Harriet Miers, after they ignored subpoenas arising from the prosecutors row.

Bush barred their testimony by invoking executive privilege, a doctrine allowing him to keep documents and testimony secret if he deems it necessary to the functioning of the presidency, but Democrats say that smacks of a cover-up.

The White House accused Democrats in Congress of using the row to score political points.

“Every day this Congress gets a little more out of control — a new call for a special prosecutor, a new investigation launched, a new subpoena issued, an unprecedented contempt vote, and an old score somehow settled,” said deputy press secretary Tony Fratto.

The White House has made various offers for officials to speak to the committee, but not under oath, but Democrats say they don’t trust them to tell the truth about the firing of the nine prosecutors.

“It is obvious that the reasons given for the firings of these prosecutors were contrived as part of a cover-up and that the stonewalling by the White House is part and parcel of that same effort,” said Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy.

“Not since the darkest days of the Nixon administration have we seen efforts to corrupt federal law enforcement for partisan political gain and such efforts to avoid accountability,” he said, referring to Richard Nixon, the president who stepped down over the Watergate scandal in 1974.

“There is a cloud over this White House and a gathering storm.”

But the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Arlen Specter, who concurred with the subpoenas to Rove and Jennings, said that the call for a special prosecutor to examine Gonzales was going too far.

“I think that Senator Schumer has made a practice of politicizing this matter,” Specter told reporters.

“Senator Schumer’s not interested in looking at the record, he’s interested in throwing down the gauntlet and making a story in tomorrow’s newspapers.”

Comments

  1. Helen Rainier

    Geyser,

    I am very touched by your words. And, as a Vietnam Era vet, but not a Vietnam War vet, I want to personally thank you for your service — as I do to each and every vet here.

    I live in Tacoma WA with two active military bases in the immediate area — Ft. Lewis and McChord AFB. In fact, the “special” person in my life — whom I met at Bragg in the mid-70s, is also a Vietnam War vet (he was SF there and later was one of the first members of Delta), retired from Ft Lewis.

    Somehow, against all the odds, we managed to stay in touch over the years. A couple years ago when I realized I had to make major changes in my life (to remove myself from a very bad marriage and where to move to) I decided to move out here. Had been thinking about doing it for almost 25 years but life just got in the way.

    Bottom line here: He and I are seeing each other again — when he’s here. He works out of state for several months a year and it is almost like being in the Army again all those years.

    At any rate, I run into active duty folks nearly every day and every time I do, I take a few minutes to talk with them and thank them for serving this country and for the sacrifices they and their families make every single day.

    It always seems to catch them unawares and they very humbly say thank you. It always moves me tremendously and a lot of times I break up and find it difficult to speak without developing a lump in my throat and my voice cracking with emotion.

    Same thing happens when I go to the Puget Sound VA medical care facilities. By god, if our government is going to give a damn about our vets, I can at least tell them that I care about them and that I support them wholeheartedly.

  2. long_rider

    If the FBI were to be honest, and created a new list of the most sought after PUBLIC enemies, Osama would be about 125th on the list. The other 124 persons would reside within the chimps administration.

    I wonder how many Americans really suppoer impeaching the chimp, and co-president?

  3. LurkingFromTheLeft

    Hey…I take offense to that one…

    …what did I spell incorrectly? –

    …I’m a Virgo and will not be able to live with myself if I can’t find it and fix it! –

    LFTL

  4. gene

    Dam (Stoney13) you had me standing up singing “sweet Jesus”.
    I’m almost (60) and for a moment I felt like I was (20) again. I think you miss-spelled *&%%$$$%^&&&**((&^ that should be…^^%%$#@**&&^^%$….thats OK, I can’t spell either. Neither can someone I know who drinks (wine).

  5. ekaton

    “We can’t impeach Bush but we can watch him kick himself in the ass at every opportunity!”

    Sadly, to be a realist, I am forced to agree.

    Love ya Sandra. You are generally well thought out and logical whether we see eye to eye or not.

    — Kent Shaw/ekaton

  6. LurkingFromTheLeft

    Yes we do –

    …and we need to thank Doug again for keeping the comments function open – I can’t tell you how much I missed that when it was gone – and how much more I needed to drink –

    …so you watch Gene – Gene keeps his eye on me – and LOTS much watch Sandra! –

    LFTL

  7. Sandra Price

    LFTL, I’m watching the whole chicken coop. I must confess I had a crying weeping screaming fit when I could not read the replies on the home page. I begged and pleaded with Doug to bring back this function. I think he hated to see an old lady crying and it worked! I’ve known him a long time and he knows I’m usually right although I don’t expect him to admit it! He is a 24 carat jewel.

  8. LurkingFromTheLeft

    Okay – so you have

    …all of our backs –

    …but if I were you, I’d want to be CORRECT and not ‘right’ –

    …that’s a bad bad word! –

    …thanks for your comments and for your efforts –

    LFTLeft 😉

  9. denroth

    Bush’s obstructionist ways are precisely the same as Nixon’s. That doesn’t mean that he’s exactly like him in all ways. He (Nixon) had a myriad of faults, but being a blithering imbecile wasn’t one of them. Having said that, I loathed the man. He was elected in ’68 on the promise that he’d end the war in Vietnam immediately. Instead, and against the will of the people, he escalated the war, and let it drag on for several more years… inventing reasons to justify it. Hey wait a minute, maybe Bush IS just like Nixon!

    When we finally pulled out of Vietnam, we did so in disgrace. One of the things that makes Bush worse, is that instead of learning the lessons of Vietnam, he went ahead and got us involved in another unjustified, unwinnable war… this time in Iraq. Even worse than that, he did it for all the wrong reasons and by inventing false evidence to do so. This man (Bush) is pure, unadulterated evil. His use of his religion to justify so many of his actions, foreign and domestic, is going to reserve him a special place in hell… perhaps his very own wing! I sincerely doubt that God enjoys being used as a “shill”!

    Oh, and BTW, the only reason Richard (aka Tricky-Dicky) Nixon resigned was that he knew that had he’d remained in office he would have most definitly been impeached. That would have been the ultimate humiliation for that paranoid, arrogant S.O.B!

    Dennis Roth (NYC)

  10. geyser

    In reply to Ms. Helen Rainier.

    I was moved by your words. The world has changed greatly since the 70s especially, The United States of America. I entered the Military during Viet nam. What hasn’t changed is the act of war. Why it was never declared, I still don’t know. Calling it a Police Action was the height of, I don’t know, it just never made sense to me.
    I served four years of active duty in the Navy. Upon my release, I came back to the protests and demonstrations and no, I was not spat on or called a Baby Killer.
    Fast forward to 2000 and the country actually was in a fog. I watched as bush was given the presidency, I turned to my wife and said, “That man scares me”
    From day one he started to dismantle the greatest country in the world. Not one person raised a hand or spoke loud enough to stop him.
    He frenzied the people into this war,with his lies and cohorts echoing him. At least it didn’t take very long to uncover the truth and find him out. The problem was, it took to long to get a majority to turn on him. By then it was too late to stop him, he had won the reelection which was the turning of the knife.
    He and the others in the administration were able to keep portions of the people off balance, using the Fear Factor, fighting them over there and not here, to keep the war going.
    Now that he is in the final two years of his term, he is looking for anything to make his legacy legitimate.
    The truth should come out once he leaves office. Maybe then, the small number of die hard bush supporters will open their eyes, see the truth of how he manipulated them with the lies, the false dangers and tainted evidence.
    He will be gone but, his ways and what he did, will be with us for many years.

    Taking One Day at a Time

  11. ekaton

    And I know deep in my heart of hearts, that when the fecal material does indeed make forceful contact with the air circulation device, Brother Doug shall speak on it in his special way, which will salve my soul, and again make me vote for Libertarians!

    didja want a AMEN?!?!

    AMEN!!

    — Kent Shaw/ekaton

    (‘ekaton’ translates to ‘one hundred’ in greek, btw)

  12. gene

    Well Sandra (that!!!) same lady came walking back today and I saw her so I ran out to ask her if she was a “political wizard”…well, she took off running and screaming…I think it sounded like “Oh God, help me please!!”. Now I’m praying the (police} don’t show up at my front door.

    Mabe it had something to do with the fact I had just stepped out of the shower and was not completely dressed. Can’t think of everything, I mean we all make misstakes.

  13. ekaton

    Cynic that I am, even I have noticed a certain attempt to keep commentary on an other than personal basis, with more emphasis on articulate expression and less upon epithet.

    erm… in my humble opinion…

    — Kent Shaw/ekaton

  14. Sandra Price

    I’m watching you Gene! You know I’ve got your back in case of trouble. I do have another life other than this one and occasionally have to leave the asylum. We can’t impeach Bush but we can watch him kick himself in the ass at every opportunity! Yahoo!

    We do have a great group here and I’m delighted to read all the articles and replies.

  15. Stoney13

    Oh, my Brothers, and Sisters! I am truly and sincerely trying to avoid all those wonderful, cleansing words that I have sworn not to type here in angry capitol letters, but It is a difficult thing, dear souls! And I am sorely tested in body and spirit, both!

    I will not type @#$%%%$#!, or %$#@@@*&, nor will I call our President a mother-%$#^% idiot! Neither will I declare Karl Rove the $%#%%$#@ piece of %%#* that I know him to be! But it is hard, people! It is indeed hard!

    But I’m of joyous continence this fine day! Because I know that at 8;00 PM, Kieth Olbermann will once more appear on my television set, and speak the words that make me grin that special grin that makes my wife hide all the firearms and sharp implements!

    And I know deep in my heart of hearts, that when the fecal material does indeed make forceful contact with the air circulation device, Brother Doug shall speak on it in his special way, which will salve my soul, and again make me vote for Libertarians!

    Let the people say YEEEAAAAASSS!!!!
    Stoney Browning