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 White House wants Congress to fund US nuclear missile updates to dissuade possible attacks from countries such as Iran and North Korea, according to a government report released Wednesday.
"Credible US nuclear capabilities and our security commitment to allies remain an indispensable part of deterrence and an important element in our effort to limit proliferation," said the report prepared by the Departments of Energy, Defense and State.
Documents show that eight congressional leaders were briefed about the Bush administration's terrorist surveillance program on the eve of its expiration in 2004, contradicting sworn Senate testimony this week by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
The documents, obtained by The Associated Press, come as senators consider whether a perjury investigation should be opened into conflicting accounts about the program and a dramatic March 2004 confrontation leading up to its potentially illegal reauthorization.
Defending his strategy in an increasingly unpopular war, President George W. Bush on Tuesday ratcheted up his effort to link the U.S.-led fight in Iraq to the broader battle against al Qaeda.
Bush spoke at an air force base in Charleston a day after the city hosted a Democratic presidential debate in which calls for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq were a common theme.
Angry senators suggested a special prosecutor should investigate misconduct at the Justice Department, accusing Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday of deceit on the prosecutor firings and President Bush's eavesdropping program.
Democrats and Republicans alike hammered Gonzales in four hours of testimony as he denied trying, in 2004, to push a hospitalized former attorney general into approving a counterterror program that the Justice Department then viewed as illegal.
Really, who could blame President Bush for being a bit flummoxed by the query?
At a town-hall meeting in Nashville, Tenn., on Thursday, a questioner pressed the president about why the United States does not pay a "statutory royalty" to performing artists for airplay.
This is Bush's reply, verbatim:
"Help. Maybe you've never had a president say this -- I have, like, no earthly idea what you're talking about," Bush said, to laughter and applause.
An ill-tempered Senate stalemate may have bought President George W. Bush two more months for his Iraq troop "surge" but a pivotal and even more testy showdown looms over the war's fate in September.
Democrats failed on Wednesday to overcome blocking maneuvers by Bush's allies, as a thinning line of Republican support held firm against their latest drive to get most US troops home by the end of next April.
With his lies-based Iraq war a failure and his Presidency in tatters, an unbowed George W. Bush is launching a futile effort to broker a Mid-East peace.
Like all his efforts, the attempt is doomed from the start.
Bush's push for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian peace is seen by both friends and foes as little more than posturing by a President who is grasping at straws to leave some legacy from a failed two terms.
It won't work. It can't work. Everybody except Bush seems to know so.
U.S. Veterans Affairs Secretary James Nicholson said on Tuesday he would step down, leaving an agency criticized for the care provided to veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Nicholson, whose resignation is effective no later than October 1, said he wanted to return to the private sector.
"This coming February, I turn 70 years old, and I feel it is time for me to get back into business, while I still can," he said in a prepared statement.
If history is a guide -- and on this constantly recurring controversy it usually is -- the so-called constitutional showdown under way between the White House and Capitol Hill over "executive privilege" will likely end with a convoluted compromise that decides little.
Every administration has at least one set-to with Congress over "executive privilege," which the White House says prevents the Hill from compelling an administration official to testify.