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No-Confidence Vote Sought on Gonzales

In another challenge to Gonzales yesterday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) and subcommittee chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called on the Justice Department to widen the circle of lawmakers briefed on the surveillance program.

In a joint letter, they said that if the administration refuses to share information on the eavesdropping program with the Judiciary Committee, it would be "impossible" for the panel to consider any changes the administration is seeking in the wiretap law.

The Washington Post yesterday identified 26 U.S. attorneys included on firing lists compiled from February 2005 to December 2006 by D. Kyle Sampson, then Gonzales's chief of staff, and his colleagues.

Sources yesterday identified four other current or former U.S. attorneys included on a Jan. 1 list that grouped a dozen prosecutors into three tiers. They include current U.S. Attorneys Matthew Mead of Wyoming and Eric Melgren of Kansas and former prosecutors James K. Vines of Nashville and Michael G. Heavican of Nebraska.

None responded to requests for comment yesterday. The four names did not reappear on any of Sampson's other lists, according to the sources, who are familiar with the documents, which have been withheld from the public.

The same Jan. 1 list includes U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie of New Jersey, who also appears on a Nov. 1 list, sources said.

Several prosecutors considered for termination said in interviews that they had received no complaints about their performance and did not know why Sampson included them. His attorney declined to comment.

U.S. Attorney Gregory Miller of Tallahassee, who appeared on three lists between February 2005 and November 2006, said he has 17 years as a career prosecutor.

"I have no idea why Kyle put me there," Miller said. "I would note that, although I am on his list, Kyle is no longer with the department and I still am."

Two U.S. attorneys placed on a Nov. 1 list said yesterday that they received apologetic telephone calls in March from the official who assembled it, Michael J. Elston, chief of staff to the deputy attorney general. On Wednesday, Christie described a similar call.

Colm F. Connolly, the chief federal prosecutor in Delaware, said Elston called "to inform me that there was an e-mail that was going to be turned over to Congress and, although it was not to be disclosed publicly, often times Congress would leak things and this could be public at some point."

Connolly said he "expressed disappointment" and asked how the e-mail was prepared. He said Elston told him "that there was this firing process in the works at the time, and he had been asked to find out whether there were any other U.S. attorneys about whom there had been concerns."

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