AG Gonzales Summoned to Testify on Attorney Firings

Anne Winter
WASHINGTON — Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been summoned by the Senate Judiciary Committee today for a day-long hearing over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys in December.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., so far has questioned Gonzales about the extent of his involvement in the firings after emails surfaced confirming he was active in discussions regarding the purged attorneys.

In a previous press conference, Gonzales said he played no role in the firing process. Today, he apologized for his "missteps," stating he misspoke during that conference and did not intentionally mislead the Department of Justice or the media.

Gonzales insists he had "limited involvement" in the firing process and maintains his belief that any meetings regarding the firings that took place were held only to discuss their performances as attorneys.

"It would be improper to remove a U.S. attorneys to interfere with or influence a particular prosecution for partisan political gain," Gonzales said. "I did not do that. I would never do that."

Gonzales followed by saying he also believe no one else in the DOJ involved in the firings acted with malicious intent.

Gonzales was subpoenaed April 10 to hand over documents that Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., said he believes "show a coordinated effort, initiated by the White House, to purge every U.S. attorney in the country.”

Court documents reveal that one of the eight attorneys, Paul Charlton of Arizona, may have been purged for his role in the JM Productions obscenity trial. A motion to dismiss obscenity charges against adult distributor Christopher Ankeney and Five Star Video argued that the U.S. government had overseen the sale in Arizona of several adult titles deemed obscene.

The government's involvement in the sale began when Castle Megastore filed for bankruptcy, and the government appointed Vern Schweigert and Mark Franks to run the company. The court papers stated that, between 2003 and 2006, Castle stores throughout the state sold more than 100 copies of the titles in question — “Filthy Things 6,” “Gag Factor 15,” “Gag Factor 18” and “American Bukkake 13.”

In his motion to dismiss, Castle Megastore's attorney Richard Hertzberg argued that the U.S. government could not bring an obscenity charge against his client because it had in fact approved the sale of the adult titles.