FBI Chief Contradicts Gonzales Testimony
Friday, July 27, 2007; 5:34 AM
WASHINGTON -- The head of the FBI contradicted Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' sworn testimony and Senate Democrats requested a perjury investigation Thursday in a fresh barrage against President Bush's embattled longtime friend and aide.
In a third blow to the Bush administration, the Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to compel the testimony of Karl Rove, Bush's chief political adviser, in connection with its investigation of the firings of federal prosecutors.
"It has become apparent that the attorney general has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements," four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement calling for a special counsel to investigate.
"I'm convinced that he's not telling the truth," added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.
The developments marked a troubling turn for Gonzales as well as the administration, which has been on the political defensive since congressional Democrats opened an investigation seven months ago into the firings of U.S. attorneys.
That probe revealed information that Democrats have sought to weave into a pattern of improper political influence over prosecutions, of stonewalling and of deceit in sworn testimony before Congress.
The White House defiantly stuck by Gonzales on the perjury matter and flatly denied that FBI Director Robert S. Mueller on Thursday contradicted the attorney general's sworn testimony on internal Bush administration dissent over the president's secretive wiretapping program.
Gonzales repeatedly and emphatically told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that the program was not at issue during his dramatic hospital bedside visit with ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004. Mueller, before the House Judiciary Committee Thursday, said it was.
Presidential spokesman Tony Snow said Gonzales and Mueller can make only limited comments in public about the classified program.
"The FBI director didn't contradict the testimony," Snow said. "It is inappropriate and unfair to ask people to testify in public settings about highly classified programs."
"The president, meanwhile, maintains full confidence in the attorney general," he added.
Democrats also insisted that the White House had encouraged top aides to flout congressional subpoenas in the prosecutor firings inquiry.