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Monday, March 26, 2007

The senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee said White House officials should testify publicly but not under oath about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys. The remarks by Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.) challenge President Bush's offer of allowing the officials, who include chief political strategist Karl Rove, to meet privately with lawmakers in a session not to be transcribed.

Two other Republicans -- Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Chuck Hagel (Neb.) -- agreed with Specter that any such testimony should at least be transcribed.

Democrats, meanwhile, continued to insist that testimony be under oath and in public. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (Vt.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, which has authorized the issuing of subpoenas to White House officials, called Bush's offer a "non-starter" on CBS's "Face the Nation."

Specter warned that a legal clash over separation of powers could end up in the courts for years, so a deal must be struck as soon as possible. "This matter is so important to the day-in and day-out functioning of the Department of Justice that the air has to be cleared," Specter said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

Disclosed: "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert asked fired prosecutor David C. Iglesias about a line in a now publicly disclosed e-mail to D. Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. The e-mail cited Proverbs 19:25 -- "Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge."

Russert asked why he cited that proverb. Iglesias responded: "It's interesting that you would pick that up. Actually, that's a typo. I meant to say Proverbs 19:21, which is, 'Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it's the Lord's purpose that prevails.' In other words, all this mess may seem chaotic and without reason, but ultimately there's a bigger plan, there's a providential plan."

Explainer: Hagel, appearing on ABC's "This Week," explained his bizarre announcement a few weeks ago, when he held an event in Omaha to say he will decide later in the year whether he will run for president. "I told the people of Nebraska that I would make an announcement on a decision sometime early this year. I owed that to them. . . . We didn't make a big deal about it. We didn't ask people to come," he said.

By Zachary A. Goldfarb


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