Senate Calls for Gonzales Perjury Investigation, Subpoenas Karl Rove

Anne Winter
WASHINGTON — Senate Democrats have called for a perjury investigation against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and subpoenaed presidential aide Karl Rove as part of its internal investigation into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys last year.

Four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote to Solicitor General Paul Clement explaining that they have reason to believe that Gonzales' testimonies include half-truths and misleading statements.

Shortly following, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced Rove's subpoena.

"We have now reached a point where the accumulated evidence shows that political considerations factored into the unprecedented firing of at least nine U. S. attorneys last year," Leahy said.

He also issued a subpoena for White House political aide J. Scott Jennings. After more than four months of requesting voluntary cooperation from Jennings and Rove, Leahy said the White House indeed is withholding documents and instructing witnesses to refuse to divulge information related to the case.

White House spokesman Tony Fratto responded by saying the Democrats have proven to be more interested in headlines than doing what the American public wants them to.

"Americans are now taking notice that this Congress, under Democratic leadership, is failing to tackle important issues," he said.

The perjury investigation is a result of alleged conflicts between testimonies given during two separate appearances before the Judiciary Committee. The issue involves whether there was administrative opposition to the president's wiretapping program.

Emails that surfaced in April show Gonzales was active in discussions regarding the purged attorneys, despite an announcement he had previously made stating he played no role in the firing process.

At the time, he apologized for his "missteps," stating he misspoke during that conference and did not intentionally mislead the Justice Department or the media.

Gonzalez 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."

However, Gonzales explained in April the reasoning behind the attorneys' dismissals, after undergoing intense questioning by several U.S. senators during a congressional hearing — and confirmed that Daniel Bogden of Nevada was fired over concerns regarding his "level of energy" when pursuing obscenity cases.

Another attorney in question was Paul Charlton of Arizona for his role in the JM Productions obscenity case. Though investigation found that the government had overseen the sale of four JM titles in question, charges remain and a trial is set for October.

Charlton's firing was said to have been a result of his work in a capital murder case, but emails later released seemed to imply that officials had simply used that as a reasonable explanation for giving him the boot.

It is against federal law to hire and fire employees based on their political beliefs, and recent testimony by former top Gonzales aide Monica S. Goodling revealed she had been instructed to sift through job applications and determine which candidates had contributed to the GOP and other political parties.

The Justice Department continues its internal investigation into the allegations.

Gonzales holds no authority over the investigation.