Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Prosecutor Purge Idea Came From White House

The White House was deeply involved in the decision late last year to dismiss federal prosecutors, including some who had been criticized by Republican lawmakers, administration officials said Monday.

Last October, President Bush spoke with Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to pass along concerns by Republicans that some prosecutors were not aggressively addressing voter fraud, the White House said Monday. Senator Pete V. Domenici, Republican of New Mexico, was among the politicians who complained directly to the president, according to an administration official. ...

The role of the president and his advisers in the prosecutor shakeup is likely to intensify calls by Congress for an investigation. It is the worst crisis of Mr. Gonzales's tenure [sic] and provoked charges that the dismissals were a political purge threatening the historical independence of the Justice Department.

The idea of dismissing federal prosecutors originated in the White House more than a year earlier, White House and Justice officials said Monday. ...

On Monday Congressional Democrats demanded more information from the White House about the ousters, calling on Mr. Rove to testify about any discussions he had had about federal prosecutors. Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said he would seek a subpoena for Mr. Rove's testimony if he did not appear voluntarily.

The (Justice Department) aide in charge of the dismissals -- (Gonzales') chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson -- resigned yesterday, officials said, after acknowledging that he did not tell key Justice officials about the extent of his communications with the White House, leading them to provide incomplete information to Congress.

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