Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wednesday Gonzales roundup

Just when you thought things might die down a little in the Gonzales case and other Congressional probes, they heat back up.

By 21-10, the House oversight committee voted to issue a subpoena to Rice to compel her story on the Bush administration's claim, now discredited, that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa.

This strikes me as a little bit of rehashing old news, as Republicans were quick to point out. And obviously there's a political factor here -- the opportunity to embarass the administration by reminding voters how badly they got things wrong in Iraq. But a lot of these issues should have been investigated at the time, and weren't. I'd much rather see a probe into the aluminum tubes evidence, since that seems to be a much clearer example of spinning intelligence to justify a war; but this is an okay place to start.

Moments earlier in the committee chamber next door, the House Judiciary Committee voted 32-6 to grant immunity to Monica Goodling, Gonzales' White House liaison, for her testimony on why the administration fired eight federal prosecutors. The panel also unanimously approved — but did not issue — a subpoena to compel her to appear.

This was expected, and should be interesting. Goodling was heavily involved in the decision to fire the prosecutors, and may be able to shed light on who actually drew up the list and why -- a question that remains oddly unanswered, as if the list just magically appeared one night on Kyle Sampson's desk as a gift from the Pink Slip Fairy.

Simultaneously across Capitol Hill, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved — but did not issue — a subpoena on the prosecutors' matter to Sara Taylor, deputy to presidential adviser Karl Rove.

This will ratchet up the confrontation with the administration over executive privilege.

And then the topper:

And in case Gonzales thought the worst had passed with his punishing testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the chairman and top Republican issued a new demand: Refresh the memory that Gonzales claimed had failed him 71 times during the seven-hour session.

"Provide the answers to the questions you could not recall last Thursday," Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and ranking Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, wrote to Gonzales on Wednesday.

The hot seat remains hot for Gonzales. They issued a similar request to Kyle Sampson, who outdid his boss by claiming "I don't know" 122 times. We'll see if anything comes of it. Either way it will continue to fuel the controversy -- either with the content of his answers, or the implications of his refusal to answer.

As if that weren't bad enough for Gonzales, there's this, from the Wall Street Journal. Turns out there was more to the recent FBI raid on Rep. Rick Renzi's house than there appeared:

As midterm elections approached last November, federal investigators in Arizona faced unexpected obstacles in getting needed Justice Department approvals to advance a corruption investigation of Republican Rep. Rick Renzi, people close to the case said.

The delays, which postponed key approvals in the case until after the election, raise new questions about whether Attorney General Alberto Gonzales or other officials may have weighed political issues in some investigations. The Arizona U.S. attorney then overseeing the case, Paul Charlton, was told he was being fired in December, one of eight federal prosecutors dismissed in the past year. The dismissals have triggered a wave of criticism and calls from Congress for Mr. Gonzales to resign.

It's important to note that this is speculation at the moment; there's no evidence of wrongdoing. But the timing is interesting:

Mr. Renzi, first elected to Congress in 2002, was fighting to hold on to his seat. In September, President Bush hosted a fund-raiser in Scottsdale on his behalf. About the same time Mr. Charlton was added to a list of prosecutors "we should now consider pushing out," wrote Mr. Gonzales's then-chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, in a Sept. 13, 2006, email to then-White House counsel Harriet Miers. The email is among thousands that the Justice Department has released in response to congressional inquiries into the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys.

In November, Mr. Renzi won re-election to a third term, beating his challenger by 51% to 44%. A month later, on Dec. 7, Mr. Charlton was told he was being dismissed.

Why did they decide to add Renzi to the "to be fired" list at that point? Coincidence? Could be. And as Gonzales backers like to point out, it wasn't like this particular investigation was going to be derailed. But that wouldn't have been the point. It could have been intended to send a signal to other prosecutors who might consider investigation high-profile Republicans.

Certainly needs some explaining.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's laughable. You actually thought it might all die down??? You obviously weren't listening to the Dems when they took over control. Not the part about how they'd bring ethical behavior back, of course. But the part where they vowed to do nothing but "investigate."

Rice has ALREADY been before them concerning Iraq pre-war intelligence. This is simply a repeat and purposefully done to keep her from her really important work. How many ways do they need to hear that even Joseph Wilson's oral report to the CIA backed up the intelligence and administration's beliefs? The fact that Wilson did a 180 later only makes him out to be a partisan hack. But---oh well---here we go yet again. How many times now????? Must be going for a record.


4/25/2007 11:24 PM  

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