GOP senator calls for Gonzales to be fired

first_imgWASHINGTON – The political pressure is growing against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales now that the first Republican senator has said President George W. Bush should fire him over the dismissal of eight federal prosecutors. The demand came Wednesday from New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu, a longtime critic of the administration’s treatment of civil liberties in the fight against terrorism. It followed days of Democratic calls that Gonzales step down over the Justice Department’s misleading response to the U.S. attorney firings. “I think the president should replace him,” Sununu said. “I think the attorney general should be fired.” The White House reaction was curt – “We’re disappointed, obviously,” spokesman Tony Snow said – but unyielding. The White House sent presidential counsel Fred Fielding to Capitol Hill to negotiate the terms of any testimony by White House aides. The loss of support from a Republican was significant, if not a surprise. Sununu long has criticized the White House over its conduct in the fight against terrorism. Also, he is facing a tough re-election campaign next year in New Hampshire, where voters in 2006 replaced two Republicans with Democrats in the state’s only congressional seats. Sununu said the firings, together with a report last week that criticized the administration’s use of a special kind of subpoena to get personal records in terrorism investigations, shattered his confidence in Gonzales. “We need to have a strong, credible attorney general that has the confidence of Congress and the American people,” Sununu said. “Alberto Gonzales can’t fill that role.” Other Republicans did not endorse the demand. “I don’t believe the attorney general should resign over this,” said Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H. “I don’t believe his ability to pursue the terrorist threat has been compromised to the extent that he should resign.” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in an interview with The Associated Press while campaigning in Iowa for the GOP nomination for president, said Gonzales shouldn’t be forced out and that he should be given ample time to defend himself. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., predicted that Gonzales would soon be out. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! At a news conference in Mexico, Bush stood by Gonzales, a longtime friend, and defended the firings. “I do have confidence in Attorney General Gonzales,” Bush said. “What Al did and what the Justice Department did was appropriate.” He said what was “mishandled” was the department’s release to Congress of some but not all details of how the firings were carried out. “Al’s got work to do up there,” on Capitol Hill, Bush said. “Mistakes were made. And I’m frankly not happy about them.” Gonzales told reporters he would “work it out” with lawmakers so they understood the situation. Yet even as Bush scolded the department for not being more forthcoming to Congress, his aides sought to protect White House political director Karl Rove and former counsel Harriet Miers from congressional subpoenas about their roles in the firings. The Senate Judiciary Committee was considering seeking subpoenas for Rove, Miers, deputy White House counsel William Kelley and five Justice Department officials. last_img

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