THE TALK

A weekly roundup of the buzz from the Sunday talk shows

Monday, May 21, 2007

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales is likely to resign before the Senate takes up a no-confidence resolution, according to Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee. A vote on such a measure could come as early as this week.

"I have a sense . . . that before the vote is taken, that Attorney General Gonzales may step down" because of the likelihood that such a resolution would pass, Specter said on CBS's "Face the Nation." "It is a very forceful, historical statement. . . . And I think . . . that he would prefer to avoid that kind of an historical black mark."

Specter said testimony last week by former deputy attorney general James B. Comey was "very damaging" to Gonzales. Comey testified that in March 2004 Gonzales, then the White House counsel, and then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. pressed an ailing John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, to renew the administration's warrantless wiretapping program. Ashcroft refused.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), one of the sponsors of the no-confidence resolution, signaled that he would look further into the episode. He said he is sending letters to President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Cheney's chief of staff, David Addington, inquiring as to who ordered Gonzales and Card to make the request of Ashcroft.

IMMIGRATION PLAN CREEPS FORWARD: Lawmakers expressed modest support for the proposal to overhaul the nation's immigration laws, announced last week. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said debate on the bill will run for at least two weeks, and that lawmakers are likely to introduce several amendments. Republicans warned that grass-roots conservative opposition to the measure could cost the GOP politically. Democrats complained that the bill's guest-worker program could create a second class of workers and that it puts at the front of the residency line immigrants who speak English or have specific job skills, rather than those with children or spouses who are U.S. citizens.

BUT THE WAR DEBATE STALLS: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that she could not back a Republican proposal for funding the Iraq war that is gaining support in the Senate. "This is too little, too late," she said of the proposal, which would tie Iraqi reconstruction aid to political and economic benchmarks.

By Zachary A. Goldfarb


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