Justice Dept. Search for Rove E-Mails Yields Little

By Paul Kane
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Justice Department told Congress yesterday that a search of e-mails sent over 2 1/2 years turned up a single message in which the department's senior officials communicated with White House adviser Karl Rove about the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys last year.

In a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), a senior Justice official said the department scoured its computers in response to a subpoena and found just the single e-mail chain written earlier this year. It already had been released publicly.

The possibility that Rove had a role in the removal of the U.S. attorneys has become a central issue in Congress's investigation.

Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.) yesterday became the fifth Senate Republican to demand the resignation of Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales. Hagel cited revelations that Gonzales in 2004 tried to persuade then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft -- who was in intensive care at the time -- to reauthorize a warrantless surveillance program that the Justice Department had ruled illegal. Gonzales was White House counsel at the time.

Also yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee announced that it would hear testimony Wednesday from Monica M. Goodling, a former top aide to Gonzales. Goodling, who is the subject of an internal Justice investigation into whether she considered political affiliation in the hiring of some career prosecutors, has been granted limited immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony.

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