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Monday, March 19, 2007

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said he will seek to subpoena senior White House officials, including chief political strategist Karl Rove and former presidential counsel Harriet E. Miers, if they do not agree to testify in the probe into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that D. Kyle Sampson, who quit as chief of staff to Attorney General Albert R. Gonzales amid the controversy, will probably agree to testify.

The comments set up a potential clash between the White House and congressional Democrats over allegations that the Bush administration orchestrated the firings of federal prosecutors for political reasons. The White House may declare executive privilege and refuse to let senior officials testify.

Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, held out for another option, saying on "Fox News Sunday": "Maybe the White House will come back and say, 'We'll permit them to be interviewed and we'll give them all the records.' " Leahy, though, said on ABC's "This Week" that only testimony under oath will be acceptable. "I do not believe in this 'We'll have a private briefing for you where we'll tell you everything' and they don't."

Hadley's Plea: On ABC, national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley told Democrats not to waste their time trying to pass a bill to accelerate withdrawal from Iraq, saying President Bush would veto such legislation.

"Let's not go through this charade," he implored, adding that Democrats have turned the administration's request for funds into a bill to remove troops.

Duck and Cover: Robert M. Gates showed he was a pro at answering questions on the Sunday shows in his debut appearance as defense secretary.

He gave an economist's response about whether the president's Iraq "surge" plan is working -- "so far, so good," he said, but a "squirting effect" might allow insurgents and terrorists to launch attacks from elsewhere.

And he dodged questions about his thoughts on comments by Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on whether it is immoral to be gay, or whether Gates thinks "don't ask, don't tell" is the right policy. "I think that this is an issue on which personal opinion really doesn't have a place," he said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

By Zachary A. Goldfarb


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