Gonzales Testifies Before House Judiciary Committee

Hearing on Oversight of the Department of Justice, May 10, 2007

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CONYERS: Good morning. The committee will come to order. Welcome, everyone.

Mr. Attorney General, I want to thank you for appearing before us today. It's my hope that the members will focus on -- their questions today on the United States attorney investigation and related matters, and that in the near future you will come back so that we may exercise our oversight responsibility, considering the many important issues that involve the Department of Justice.

I know I speak for every member of this panel when I say that we all want the Department of Justice to succeed in its mission as the premier law enforcement agency in the nation, and perhaps in the world.

The laws under your jurisdiction -- from civil rights, voting rights, to crime, to antitrust, to bankruptcy and the environment -- are among the most important charters of our society and are critical to our well-being as a nation and as a democracy.

At the same time, I am sure we agree -- you and I -- that any hint or indication that the department may not be acting fairly and impartially in enforcing the nation's laws, or in choosing the nation's law enforcers, has ramifications far beyond the department itself, and casts doubt upon every action or inaction your office and your employees take.

So, when we learn that several U.S. attorneys were added to the termination list only after they decided to pursue criminal investigations involving Republican officials, or after complaints that they were not pursuing investigations against Democrats, we must insist that we understand exactly how this came into existence and how the list itself of those discharged came into existence.

When we learn that most of the U.S. attorneys forced to resign were among the highest rated and most able in the nation, that they were told that they were being displaced to create a bigger Republican farm team while others were retained because they were, quote/unquote, "loyal Bushies," it creates the impression that the department has placed partisan interests above the public interest.

CONYERS: When a respected former career attorney at the Civil Rights Division testifies that he has been directed to alter performance evaluations based on political considerations, when I receive an anonymous letter, apparently from Department of Justice employees, complaining that candidates for career positions have been subjected to political litmus tests, and when the attorney general has secretly delegated his authority to hire and fire non-civil service employees, this calls into question the department's commitment to fair and impartial justice.

When the White House gives us a take-it-or-leave-it offer for a one-time, off-the-record interview, without transcripts, which I've referred to as "meet us at the pub for fish and chips so we can talk," which no self-respected investigator would accept, makes open-ended claims of executive privilege, and loses or destroys millions of e- mails relevant to our investigation, one asks whether the administration is trying to cover up two simple truths: who created the list and why.

And when we learned this morning, page one, Washington Post, that another U.S. attorney in Missouri was forced out, contrary to repeated assurances that the eight U.S. attorneys whose circumstances we've been examining for the past few months were the entire list, it makes us wonder when we will get the entire report -- truthful report about this matter.

CONYERS: Now, to those who might say that it is time to move on and end our investigation, allow me to remind you of a couple things.

The matters that have come to light to date are quite serious.

Sitting prosecutors have faced political pressure to bring or not bring cases. Numerous misstatements by senior officials regarding the firings have been made to Congress. The reputations of good and honest public servants have been besmirched. Former U.S. attorneys have been pressed not to cooperate with our investigation. And the Presidential Records Act and Hatch Act may have been violated.

But most important of all, however, the department's most precious asset, it's reputation for integrity and independence, has been called into question.

Until we get to the bottom of how this list was created and why, those doubts will persist.

I'm pleased now to turn to the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, my friend, the gentlemen from Texas, Mr. Smith.

SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And welcome, Mr. Attorney General.

SMITH: We expect much of this hearing to focus on the U.S. attorneys controversy. We've investigated this situation for two months. We have nearly 10,000 pages of interview transcripts and documents. The public, the media and committee staff have all scoured them.

We have held three hearings, featuring 18 witnesses. We have had four subpoena markups, and have subpoenaed 12 individuals and many associated documents.

We have held 10 interviews, spanning more than 50 hours. We will soon hear from Monica Goodling, whose testimony we have taken the extraordinary step of immunizing. And, of course, we all have access to the testimony generated in the Senate.

As we have gone forward, the list of accusations has mushroomed. But the evidence of genuine wrongdoing has not.

Mr. Attorney General, this investigation may find that you and your staff did only what you were accused of at the start: the unremarkable and perfectly legal act of considering ordinary politics in the appointment and oversight of political appointees.

It amounts to the criminalization of politics, particularly the partisan criminalizing of the politics of this administration.

Mr. Attorney General, you and your staff have stated time and again that what you tried to undertake was a good government review of political appointees to identify where new appointees might do better.

You acknowledged that the White House was involved. Of course it was. The political appointees were theirs. So were the political priorities that the department was asked to focus on, such as gun crime and human trafficking.

By emphasizing that politics affected your motivations, your political opponents have tried to paint your exercise as something out of bounds.

SMITH: I do not want to belittle this controversy. Some serious questions remain unanswered. But we shouldn't kid ourselves. In an L.A. Times poll last month, 63 percent of Americans believed that Congress is pursuing this matter to gain partisan advantage.

Today is our first opportunity to see you since the tragedy of Virginia Tech. Two months ago, we marked the third anniversary of the terrorist attack in Spain. Today, a terrorist could cross our porous borders in California, Arizona, New Mexico or Texas carrying deadly weapons.

Six months from now, on the anniversary of September 11th, I hope we don't find ourselves asking why we spent our time today asking you more questions about your hiring decisions.

What we need to do is wrap up the U.S. attorneys controversy. With one exception, we have concluded interviews of all the major department players in the controversy. We have you here to answer our questions today. All that is necessary with respect to the Department of Justice after today is to hear from Monica Goodling, and we will do that soon.

For nearly two months the White House has offered to let us interview its employees and review its documents. We need to take that offer now. If we had accepted it, our questions might have been answered long ago.

Mr. Attorney General, we trust that you will answer our questions to the best of your ability, and we look forward to your answers.

But we should not conduct an endless, piscine expedition. If there are no fish in this lake, we should reel in our lines of questions, dock our empty boat and turn to more pressing issues.

Mr. Chairman, I will yield back the balance of my time.

CONYERS: Thank you very much, Lamar Smith.

We will accept all other members' opening statements to be included in the record at this point.

Welcome again, Attorney General Gonzales.

You've held this position since February 2005, and before that was White House counsel.

SMITH: You enlisted in the Air Force right out of high school, attending the Air Force Academy, finishing your undergraduate studies at Rice and earning your law degree at Harvard.

You spent a decade in private practice at the Houston law firm of Vinson & Elkins, and then in 1994 to serve as Governor-elect George Bush's general counsel, then secretary of state and later Texas Supreme Court justice, before coming to Washington in 2001.

Mr. Attorney General, we generally allow our witnesses five minutes to summarize or augment their written statement. And yours is included in the record. But because you are here today under unusual circumstances, we would like to give you flexibility to speak longer than that, if you care to.

And so we hope that you could address this morning's revelation at least one other former U.S. attorney belongs on the list that was forced out, and why we're hearing about the matter today from The Washington Post.

Again, on behalf of everybody on this committee, we welcome you and invite you to proceed in your own way.

SMITH: Mr. Chairman -- point of order, Mr. Chairman. Point of order, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: What's happening? Why?

SMITH: Mr. Chairman, with respect to the rules governing the decorum of a hearing, I've brought to the attention of the chairman the presence of a banner on the person of an individual placed in a position such that that person's banner would reveal -- be revealed every time cameras are on the witness.

This is not a star chamber. This is supposed to be a hearing. And I would make my point of order that that is an illegal protest in these hearings, and ask that the individual be removed before the attorney general begins his testimony.

CONYERS: I don't think there's anything wrong with that. And I invite the person who's identified to please excuse herself from these proceedings. This is not a political rally.

And with the right attire, you're perfectly welcome to reenter this chamber.

And don't make any statements please. Thank you.


CONYERS: Oh, come on now. We've done this too long. We've spent far too much time trying to resolve this.

Thanks a lot.

And I want everyone to know in the audience, please, no signs, no demonstrations, no exercise, for a few hours, of your First Amendment rights when we're having this important hearing.

SMITH: I thank the chair.

CONYERS: Thank you.

I apologize, Mr. Attorney General, and we invite you to proceed.

GONZALES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I will take less than the five minutes but I'm grateful for the offer.

Chairman Conyers, Ranking Member Smith and members of the committee, I have provided the committee with a rather lengthy written statement detailing some of the department's work under my leadership to protect our nation, our children and our civil rights. I am proud of our past accomplishments in these and other areas, and I look forward to future achievements.

I am here, however, to answer your questions to the best of my ability and recollection, not to repeat what I have provided in writing.

Before we begin, I want to make three brief points about the resignations of the eight United States attorneys. These points are basically the same ones that I made before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month. My feelings and recollections about this matter have not changed since that time.

GONZALES: First, as I have said repeatedly, each of those United States attorneys are fine lawyers and dedicated public servants. I have publicly apologized to them and to their families for allowing this matter to become an unfortunate and undignified public spectacle, for which I accept full responsibility.

Second, as I have said before, I should have been more precise when discussing this matter. I understand why some of my statements generated confusion, and I have subsequently tried to clarify my words.

That said, I believe what matters most is that I've always sought the truth in every aspect of my professional and personal life. This matter has been no exception.

I've never sought to mislead or deceive the Congress or the American people. To the contrary, I have been extremely forthcoming with information, and I'm here today to continue to do my part to ensure that all facts about this matter are brought to light.

Finally, recognizing my limited involvement in the process -- a mistake that I freely acknowledge -- I have soberly questioned my prior decisions. I have reviewed the documents available to the Congress.

But please keep in mind that in deference to the integrity of the ongoing investigations, there is some information that I have not seen that you have seen.

I have also asked the deputy attorney general if I should reconsider my decisions.

What I have concluded is that although the process was not as rigorous or as structured as it should have been, and while reasonable people might decide things differently, my decision to ask for the resignations of these U.S. attorneys was not based on improper reasons, and, therefore, the decisions should stand.

I think we agree on what would be improper. It would be improper to remove a U.S. attorney to interfere with or influence a particular prosecution for partisan political gain. I did not do that. I would never do that.

Let me conclude by saying that I have learned important lessons from this experience which will guide me in my important responsibilities.

In recent weeks, I have met or spoken with all of our U.S. attorneys to hear their concerns. These discussions have been open and, quite frankly, very frank. Good ideas were generated and are being implemented.

I look forward to working with these men and women to pursue the great goals of our department.

I also look forward to working -- continuing to work with the department's career professionals, investigators, analysts, prosecutors, lawyers and administrative staff, who perform nearly all of the department's work and deserve the most credit for our accomplishments.

GONZALES: I want to continue working with this committee as well. We have made great strides in protecting our country from terrorism, defending our neighborhoods against the scourge of gangs and drugs, shielding our children from predators and preserving the public integrity of our public institutions.

I do not intend to allow recent events to deter us from our mission.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: Thank you, Mr. Attorney General.

Let me begin the questions.

I want to ask how the U.S. attorney termination list came to be, who suggested putting most of these U.S. attorneys on the list, and why.

Now, that's the question that overhangs everything we're doing here. If we can answer that, I think outside of the reticence of the White House to cooperate, we would make incredible gains in trying to put this matter to rest, as the gentleman from Texas, Mr. Smith, has suggested we do as soon as possible.

Tell me about it.

GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, I accept full responsibility for the notion of doing an evaluation of the performance of United States attorneys.

I think as a matter of good government, we have an obligation as heads of the department to ensure that public servants are in fact doing their job.

And therefore, I directed Mr. Sampson -- my then deputy chief of staff, and most recently my former chief of staff -- to coordinate and organize a review of the performance of United States attorneys around the country.

GONZALES: I expected that Mr. Sampson would consult with the senior leadership of the department, that he would consult with individuals who would know about the performance about the United States attorneys much more than I.

CONYERS: But, Mr. Attorney General, you're the one who is here at the hearing.


CONYERS: You're the one that we talk to as the Judiciary Committee regularly communicates with the head of the Department of Justice. I approve and congratulate you on all those hearings, and investigation.

But tell me -- just tell me -- how the U.S. attorney termination list came to be and who suggested putting most of these U.S. attorneys on the list and why. Now, that should take about three sentences, but take more. But tell me something.

GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding that what Mr. Sampson engaged in was a process of consulting with the senior leadership in the department about the performance of specific individuals, and that toward the end of that process, in the fall of 2006, what was presented to me was a recommendation that I understood to be the consensus recommendation of the senior leadership of the department.

CONYERS: OK. In other words, you don't know. And I'm not putting words in your mouth, but you haven't answered the question.

I know the procedure, but look, we've got 30-something members of Congress, much of your staff, you've prepared for this, you've been asked something like this question before now...

GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, if I may respond to that, as I've indicated, I have not gone back and spoken directly with Mr. Sampson and others who are involved in this process, in order to protect the integrity of this investigation and the investigation of the Office of Professional Responsibility and the Office of Inspector General.

I am a fact witness, they are fact witnesses and in order to preserve the integrity of those investigations, I have not asked these specific questions. What I'm here today...

CONYERS: OK, so that's why you're not going to answer the question, because you want to protect the integrity of the investigation.

Look, let me ask you a specific example. Mr. Iglesias...

GONZALES: Iglesias.

CONYERS: ... in New Mexico, who was not put on the termination list until October or November of 2006, we learned in last Friday's interview with your counsel, Matthew Friedgen (ph), at the request of the White House and Monica Goodling, he met with two prominent New Mexico lawyers who complained about Mr. Iglesias' handling of a vote fraud case.

CONYERS: He met them again in November. And they told him they didn't want him -- Mr. Iglesias -- to be the U.S. attorney. And then they said they were working toward that, and they had communicated about that directly with Senator Domenici and Karl Rove.

Aware of that, are you?

GONZALES: I'm certainly aware of it now.

And if I may, Mr. Chairman, if you're going to rely upon some testimony that others have provided -- again, I haven't spoken to others about their testimony -- could I see what in fact the testimony's been provided to? Because I haven't seen it. So...

CONYERS: Just take this recitation that I've just given you, sir.

We're perfectly willing to let you see anything you want. We're cooperating. But cooperate with us.

GONZALES: I'm trying, Mr. Chairman.


So is this correct?

GONZALES: I have no reason to believe it's not correct, Mr. Chairman.


You were aware of that, then.

GONZALES: You mean, at the time that I made my decision?


GONZALES: At the time I accepted the recommendation -- Mr. Chairman, I don't recall whether or not I was aware of that.

But I will tell you this: I was certainly aware of the fact that the senior senator had lost confidence in Mr. Iglesias beginning in the fall of 2005, and that we had had several phone conversations where he had expressed serious concerns or reservations about the performance of the person that he recommended for that position.

CONYERS: Yes. And they had communicated directly with Karl Rove and Senator Domenici.

You were aware of that?

GONZALES: Mr. Chairman...

CONYERS: No. You're not -- you're not under oath.

CONYERS: And you said you always tell the truth.

GONZALES: My answers would be the same, Mr. Chairman. I want to be sure that I give the committee the most accurate and most complete answer that...

CONYERS: Yes. So, what are you saying?

GONZALES: Well, what I know is...

CONYERS: You need more information and you want to see the reviews?

GONZALES: Of course I would like to see exactly what he said.

But I was aware of the fact...

CONYERS: All right.

GONZALES: At the time I made my decision, I was aware of the fact, of course, that Senator Domenici, of course, had called me several times. Mr. Rove, in a conversation that he had with me, raised concerns about voter fraud prosecutions in three jurisdictions in the country, including New Mexico. My recollection is that occurred sometime in the fall of 2006.

I don't have any specific recollection that when I made my decision I was aware of the specific conversations that Mr. Friedrick (ph), I believe, may have testified to.

CONYERS: Thank you.

Mr. Lamar Smith, please?

SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Attorney General, let me go to what I consider to be the heart of the matter and ask you a series of questions.

The first is this: Did you seek the resignation of any U.S. attorney to retaliate for, interfere with, or gain a partisan advantage in any case or investigation, whether about public corruption or any other type of offense?

GONZALES: I wouldn't do that, Congressman Smith. I would not retaliate for partisan political reasons. That's not something that I believe is acceptable, and would not tolerate.

SMITH: Did the White House ever ask you to seek the resignation of any U.S. attorney in order to retaliate for, interfere with, or gain a partisan advantage in any case or investigation, whether about public corruption or any other offense?

GONZALES: Not that I recall, Congressman. I don't believe that the White House ever did.

SMITH: Have you ever intended to mislead or misinform Congress through any of your statements or testimony about the U.S. attorneys matter?

GONZALES: Of course not.

Now, I realize I've been inartful in some of my statements to the press; overly broad, perhaps, in my zeal to come out and defend the department. I've said things that I shouldn't have without first going back and reviewing thousands of pages of documents.

But in everything that I've done here, the principles that I've tried to support are truthfulness and being forthcoming, and accountability. And that's why we've provided thousands of pages of very internal, deliberative documents, why we've made DOJ officials available for interviews and for testimonies: because I want to reassure the American public and this committee that nothing improper happened here.

SMITH: Mr. Attorney General, let me go to my last question. And feel free to expound on your answer.

Do you believe the U.S. attorneys controversy has caused any unmerited damage to the Department of Justice and its ability to effectively pursue its mission of law enforcement? And if so, how?

GONZALES: Well, clearly -- I mean, it's been an unfortunate episode. And obviously, it's something that I have to deal with as head of the department.

I always worry about morale. I think every Cabinet official every day should wake up thinking about, "OK, is the morale of the department where it should be? Am I doing everything I can to be the most effective leader of the department?"

And so, of course, that's something that I worry about. I've indicated, I've spoken to all United States attorneys about this issue. I've told them, "Be focused on your job." I don't expect a single investigation, a single prosecution to be sped up or slowed down by what's happening here, that we will focus on making sure that Congress is provided the information that it needs to reassure itself that nothing improper happened here.

But at the end of the day, what the American people are focused on, I think -- they want to know that the Department of Justice is doing its part to make sure that our country is safe from terrorism, is doing our part to make sure that our neighborhoods are safe from violent crime and doing our part to make sure that our kids are safe from predators and pedophiles.

SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Attorney General.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: Thank you very much.

The chair recognizes the chairwoman of the Commercial and Administrative Law Subcommittee, Linda Sanchez.

SANCHEZ: I thank the chairman.

Good morning, Mr. Gonzales.

Mr. Gonzales, you've consistently maintained that only eight U.S. attorneys were forced out of their positions. Yet today's Washington Post states that there was a ninth, Todd Graves.

Are there any more U.S. attorneys that we should know about that were forced out?

GONZALES: Congresswoman, it's always been my understanding that this focus has been on the eight United States attorneys that were asked to resign last December 7th and June 14th, including Bud Cummins.

SANCHEZ: Mr. Attorney General, with all due respect, in page two of your testimony that you've previously given, you stated that there were only eight that were forced out.

GONZALES: As part of this process -- as part of this review process that I asked Mr. Sampson to conduct and which resulted in the culmination in December of '06, these were the individuals that this process identified as where changes should be appropriate.

Now, clearly, throughout my tenure as attorney general and throughout the tenure of my predecessors and other attorney generals, U.S. attorneys have left the department for a number of -- variety of reasons. So that happens.

SANCHEZ: Let's stop there.

Are you familiar with the former U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, Debra Wong Yang?


SANCHEZ: And are you aware the she resigned her position in October of 2006 and took a position with a private law firm?

GONZALES: Yes, I am.

SANCHEZ: Do you have information as to whether Ms. Yang's resignation was entirely voluntary?

GONZALES: From what I know, Ms. Yang's resignation was entirely voluntary. She did a wonderful job and...


SANCHEZ: Now, are you aware that when Ms. Yang went to this firm, she received what has been reported as a $1.5 million bonus for joining the private law firm?

GONZALES: I don't know what she received. But whatever it was, it was a bargain for the firm because she is an outstanding lawyer.

SANCHEZ: Are you aware of any reason why she would have been given such an extraordinary bonus payment to hire an individual like her?

GONZALES: I suspect that given her outstanding qualifications, the fact that she's a woman, an Asian-American, would make her particularly attractive to a private firm.

SANCHEZ: So you think a $1.5 million signing bonus is typical for a situation like that?

GONZALES: Again, that's a decision for that firm to make.


Are you aware -- and this has been reported in the press -- that when she was hired by the firm, Ms. Yang was conducting an active investigation into Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis and his financial dealings with a particular lobbying firm? Were you aware of that?

GONZALES: I may have been aware of that. Sitting here today, I can't say that I was aware of that. But that is very likely.

We have public corruption investigations and prosecutions that are occurring every day all over the country, Congresswoman.

GONZALES: So it would not be unusual that such...


SANCHEZ: Well, let me tell you what concerns me.

What concerns me are the reports of the same firm that hired Ms. Yang away from her post as a U.S. attorney, with a large bonus payment, also, coincidentally, happens to be the firm that represents Mr. Lewis in this matter. Does that coincidence trouble you at all?

GONZALES: Not at all, because, again, what we have to remember is that for -- the American people need to understand this -- is that these investigations are not run primarily by the United States attorneys. They're handled by assistant United States attorneys, career prosecutors. And so these...

SANCHEZ: She had no role in the investigation of Mr. Lewis?

GONZALES: ... these investigations, these prosecutions continue, as they should.

This great institution is built to withstand departures of U.S. attorneys and attorneys general.


SANCHEZ: So you don't think it's inappropriate for a U.S. attorney to accept a lucrative job offer from a law firm representing the target of one of their active investigations in a position that she held just prior to going to that law firm? You don't think that that's inappropriate?

GONZALES: Again...

SANCHEZ: You don't think that there's perhaps at least an appearance of a conflict of interest...


GONZALES: Congresswoman Sanchez, I'm presuming -- knowing Deb Yang the way that I do and the people in that firm -- is that she would be recused from anything related to that matter as a member of that firm.

And, again, what's important for the American people to understand is, despite her departure, that case will continue, as it should.

SANCHEZ: So you're not concerned even with the appearance of conflicts of interest. It doesn't trouble you at all...

GONZALES: I'm always concerned about the appearance of a conflict...

SANCHEZ: ... especially at a point when the Justice Department is under scrutiny, the morale is probably the lowest that it's been in decades, and people are questioning the integrity of the DOJ to act in an evenhanded and fair manner.

GONZALES: Of course, as head of the department, I'm always concerned about the appearance and the perception. Of course I am.

But, again, this is more of a perception for the law firm as opposed to the Department of Justice because, as far as I know, we had nothing to do with placing Ms. Yang in that law firm. And as far as I know, nothing about that investigation has been impacted or affected in any way by virtue of her going to work in that firm.

SANCHEZ: What about this: Are you aware that one month before Ms. Yang resigned her post White House Counsel Harriet Miers had asked Kyle Sampson if Ms. Yang planned to keep her post or, as in Mr. Sampson's words to our investigators, quote/unquote, "whether a vacancy could be created there in Los Angeles"? Were you aware of that?

GONZALES: I think I may be aware of that, based on my review. I can't remember now whether or not that's reflected in the document.

Let me just say this, a couple things about that.

I recall -- Ms. Yang, when I said she left voluntarily, I think she left involuntarily in that she -- she had to leave for financial reasons. I think if she could have, she would have stayed. But I think she had to leave for financial reasons.


CONYERS: Former Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin?

SANCHEZ: Mr. Chairman, if I could just beg your indulgence for 10 more seconds to ask unanimous consent that an article by the New York Times regarding the Yang matter be placed into the record.

CONYERS: Without objection, so ordered.

LUNGREN: Reserving the right to object.

CONYERS: For what purpose would you object putting that in the record?

LUNGREN: Because we have identified a fellow member of Congress as a specific target of investigation, it's been put on the record, and I think we ought to be very careful about that before we start besmirching members' names around.

CONYERS: We're not besmirched.

CONYERS: This is -- this is public information, Mr. Lungren. And I am going to allow it and recognize the former chairman of the committee.

LUNGREN: I do object, Mr. Chairman.

SANCHEZ: I thank the chairman.

SENSENBRENNER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I have a couple of questions about public corruption investigations as well.

In January of 2006, the former legislative director to Representative William Jefferson of Louisiana, Brett Pfeffer, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the bribery of a public official and conspiracy.

In May of 2006, Vernon Jackson pled guilty in federal court to bribing Representative Jefferson with more than $400,000 of payments.

It's been on the public record that during a execution of a search warrant in Representative Jefferson's house, there was $90,000 of cold cash that was found in Representative Jefferson's freezer.

And all of that was a year ago.

My constituents are asking me when something is going to happen, whether an indictment is going to be returned or whether the Justice Department is going to make an announcement that there's insufficient evidence to prosecute Representative Jefferson.

When can the public expect some news one way or the other on this issue?

GONZALES: Congressman, you know I cannot talk about that.

SENSENBRENNER: Well, everybody's talking about it except you.

And, you know, this is kind of embarrassing, because this committee -- and it was on my watch when all of this happened -- is asked questions about what kind of oversight are we doing over the Department of Justice.

And the two guilty pleas were last year. The raid on Mr. Jefferson's house was, I believe, earlier than that. And then there was the raid on his office that posed a whole host of legal problems that are currently on appeal and will be argued next week before the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

SENSENBRENNER: I'm just interested in finding out when this matter is going to be brought to conclusion, because we authorize and appropriate a heck of a lot of money to run your department and people are wondering what the dickens is going on.

GONZALES: I have every confidence that the prosecutors in this case, as the prosecutors in all these cases -- they follow the evidence. And at the appropriate time, they'll take the appropriate action, Congressman.

That's all that I can say with respect to this particular case.

SENSENBRENNER: Would you believe that the legal issues that were raised both by Mr. Jefferson and by the counsel to the clerk of the House of Representatives on the raid on Jefferson's office in this very building has ended up slowing a decision on whether or not to indict Mr. Jefferson?

GONZALES: Congressman, I'm not going to comment on that. I don't think it would be appropriate.

At the appropriate time, I hope that I can have more to say about this matter.

SENSENBRENNER: Well, I would hope that the appropriate time would be pretty soon. Because the people's confidence in your department has been further eroded, separate and apart from the U.S. attorney controversy, because of the delay in dealing with this matter.

There's a man who's already been convicted of bribing the representative. My learning about the crime of bribery in law school says that in order to obtain a conviction there has to be a briber and the bribee.

The briber has been convicted. The alleged bribee has not even been indicted. And I think that there's a disconnect involved in this in the eyes of the public.

And we all suffer as a result of that, as members of Congress, that something's going on that hasn't been resolved.

SENSENBRENNER: I've made my point. I hope that you will tell your prosecutors to wrap this thing up and to let the public know as soon as they possibly can. And I hope that that's really soon.

And I yield the...

LUNGREN (?): Would the gentleman yield?

SENSENBRENNER: I yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon.

CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

We've been having a bit of a discussion over here. And I'd just like to ask -- and probably yield back to the gentleman so that he can yield to Mr. Lungren.

But I don't recall that Mr. Lewis has been identified as a target in an investigation. And I would like to ask the gentlelady if she is aware that he has been identified as a target.

SENSENBRENNER: I yield to the gentlewoman from California, Ms. Sanchez.

SANCHEZ: I believe if you look at the New York Times article that was posted that it states, quote, "Ms. Yang was investigating Jerry Lewis, who was chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee," end quote.

SENSENBRENNER: I further yield to the gentleman from Utah, Mr. Cannon.

CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Sensenbrenner.

But I'd appreciate it if you'd yield to the gentleman from California...

SENSENBRENNER: I yield to the gentleman from California, Mr. Lungren.

LUNGREN: As anybody knows, there's a huge difference between an investigation and a target.

When I was attorney general of the state of California, we had investigations of literally hundreds of public officials. When someone brings an accusation, you have to look at it. That is a very different thing than being a target.

We take extreme caution to make sure you do not besmirch the reputations of people, because that is unfair. And that's the point I was trying to make.

We in this Congress 20 years ago besmirched the reputation...

SENSENBRENNER: Reclaiming my time before it is expired, I would just point out that in the Jefferson case, there have been people who have been convicted of misconduct involving Mr. Jefferson. With the New York Times article, there has not been an identification that Representative Lewis is even a target.


CONYERS: Just a moment. I'll let Attorney General Gonzales respond.

GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, so that there's no misunderstanding, the department has not confirmed, is not confirming that Mr. Lewis is a target.

SANCHEZ: Mr. Chairman, could I beg your indulgence for 30 seconds?


SENSENBRENNER: Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent I be given an additional 30 seconds to yield to her.

CONYERS: Without objection so ordered.


SANCHEZ: Just -- I appreciate you yielding.

Just to set the record straight, the question that I put to the attorney general was Ms. Yang was conducting an active investigation. I didn't say "target." I said "conducting an investigation." My words seem to get twisted in this committee and more import given to basic questions and sinister...


CANNON: Point of personal privilege, Mr. Chairman.

SANCHEZ: ... attributed to them, and with that, I will yield back to the gentleman from Wisconsin.

CANNON: Point of personal privilege, Mr. Chairman. I stated correctly the word used by the gentlelady from California.

CONYERS: The chair recognizes the subcommittee chairman on the Constitution, Jerry Nadler.

CANNON: Mr. Chairman, I make a point of order and ask that the gentlelady's words be taken down.

CONYERS: Come on now. Let the...

CANNON: The gentlelady -- I'm happy with an apology, but the gentlelady used the word "target," and that is exceedingly inappropriate under the circumstances.

CONYERS: Mr. Cannon, the record is being taken. This will all come out now. I have no intention of delaying the appearance of the attorney general of the United States while we take down the words of someone.


(UNKNOWN): We call for a recorded vote, then.

CANNON: The chairman knows it's exceedingly hard to be gracious in this committee, and apologizing would be appropriate, but otherwise I insist that the gentlelady's words be taken down as a point of order.

SANCHEZ: If the gentleman will yield, I don't recall -- and I have the questions in front of me -- using the word "target." Had I used it, I certainly apologize for using that word. My understanding is my questions dealt with...


CONYERS: Will the gentlelady agree to withdraw any reference to "target" from the record if it's there?

SANCHEZ: I would. I would, Mr. Chairman. If it will expedite this hearing, I will.

CONYERS: Thank you.

CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I withdraw my point of order.

CONYERS: Thank you very much.

Mr. Nadler?

NADLER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Attorney General, when did Monica Goodling start in her role as special counsel to you and the White House liaison?

GONZALES: Congressman, I'm not sure the exact date, but I'd be happy...

NADLER: Roughly?

GONZALES: I'm not sure. Let me -- I'd have to get back to you.

NADLER: Can you give me the year?

GONZALES: You know, I don't whether or not it was in the fall of '05 -- sometime in '05.

NADLER: Roughly, you know -- OK.

Now, to your knowledge, was Ms. Goodling involved in the hiring decisions of career assistant U.S. attorneys at any point?

GONZALES: I'm certainly aware, now, of allegations that -- well, she used to be the deputy, of course, in the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys. And so there she would have some role with respect to the hiring of career assistant United States...

NADLER: As special counsel and White House liaison, when she had that position, was she involved?

GONZALES: I think she did have some role in that position.

NADLER: Isn't that process reserved for U.S. attorneys, and in some cases for the Executive Office of the United States Attorneys?

GONZALES: Is what...

NADLER: The selection process for assistant USAs.

GONZALES: Typically, that is something that is conducted within the office of the specific United States attorneys' offices. There would be, however -- if you're talking about a situation where you had an interim United States attorney, there are...

NADLER: Well, we weren't talking about interim attorneys. We were talking about generally.

Now, allegations have been might that Ms. Goodling considered the political affiliations of career AUSA applicants. Would you agree that, if that is true, that practice would violate not only Department of Justice policy but also federal law?

GONZALES: In fact, those are very, very serious allegations. And if that happened, it shouldn't have happened.

NADLER: Now, Mr. Attorney General, when this committee asked Ms. Goodling to testify in front of us, she claimed her Fifth Amendment right not to -- the Fifth Amendment says you can't be forced to -- what's the word -- incriminate yourself with respect to a crime.

Can you tell this committee what crimes she might have thought -- from your stewardship of the department, what crimes there were that it might have been reasonable for her to think that her testimony might incriminate her or anybody else in?

GONZALES: Well, I can't do that, Congressman.

Obviously, it's always been my expectation and hope that Justice Department employees or former Justice Department employees would come forward and cooperate in connection with this investigation.


GONZALES: I offered up everyone.

NADLER: But you're not aware of any -- when someone who is the deputy attorney general, or special counsel to the attorney general, says that her testimony about the U.S. attorneys matter might implicate her in a crime, you're not aware of any crimes that she might have been referring to?

GONZALES: I offered her up...

NADLER: Or speaking of, I should say.

GONZALES: ... to come testify.


GONZALES: As an initial matter of course, I offered her up -- I offered up people on my staff...

NADLER: You're not aware of that.

Now, you have testified that you ask yourself every day whether you can be effective as the head of the Department of Justice.

Did you consider that, by many accounts, the morale at the Department of Justice and throughout the U.S. attorney community is at its lowest level since just after Watergate?

GONZALES: Did I consider that -- I don't know what's the source of that statement.

NADLER: Well, let me give you a different statement, then.

The recent ABC/Washington Post poll reports that 67 percent of the American people believe that the firings of U.S. attorneys were for political reasons, not for performance-based reasons. And, indeed, former Deputy Attorney General Comey said that the people who were fired had the highest performance, that they weren't for performance-based reasons.

If the American people don't believe you about this matter, how can they have confidence in other things you claim or that public corruption cases brought by your department are not similarly based on political considerations?

GONZALES: I think the American people are most concerned about the things that I alluded to earlier, Congressman. And that is, is our country safe from terrorism? Are we making our neighborhoods safe? Are we protecting our kids?

I will work as hard as I can -- working with this committee and working with DOJ employees -- to reassure the American people that this department is focused on doing its job.

NADLER: But you have a situation where most people believe that you didn't tell the truth about the U.S. attorneys.

And if that is the case -- they may be concerned about terrorism and ought to be, obviously, but it's a separate issue.

If most people believe that the United States attorney general has not told the truth about why these U.S. attorneys were fired, how can they have confidence in your job?

GONZALES: I don't believe that's an accurate statement.

And what I'm trying to do in appearances like this is to set the record straight.

NADLER: Well, the 67 percent -- 67 percent of the American people, according to the ABC/Washington Post poll, believe that the firings of the U.S. attorneys were for political reasons and not for performance-based reasons, which is exactly the opposite of what you have testified to.

GONZALES: I don't know when that poll was taken.

But, again, we've been very, very forthcoming, Congressman, in terms of our testimony...

NADLER: Well, I don't -- all right. That's a matter of opinion.

NADLER: But let me ask you this: If it is true, as you have testified, that you had very little personal involvement in the decision to fire the eight U.S. attorneys, you delegated that, you weren't really familiar with the reasons and the specifics -- and that's what you said -- and did not know the reasons some of them were on the list, how can we believe that you were involved in a hands-on manner in running the department in numerous other important issues?

GONZALES: Look at the record of the department. Look at the record of the department.

NADLER: No, that doesn't answer the question.

If you have stated to this committee and to other committees that in the matter of firing eight U.S. attorneys which you signed off on, you signed off on it without really knowing why or what their performance was, how can we believe that you really know what's going on in the department?

GONZALES: I think -- I think I was justified as head of that department to rely upon the people whose judgment that I valued, people who would know a lot more about the performance of United States attorneys. I think as head of the department I was justified in doing so.

Now, in hindsight, I've already said, I would have used a process that was more vigorous. There's no question about that.

But, again, Congressman, I would say, look at the record of the department in a wide variety of areas and...

NADLER: Well, let's look at the record of the department in a different area: national security letters.

Why is the government issuing NSLs to conduct fishing expeditions or, as the I.G. put it, to access NSL information about parties two or three steps removed from their subjects without determining if these contacts are real suspicious connections?

GONZALES: Well, of course, the I.G. also said that national security letters are indispensable -- indispensable.

NADLER: That's not the question.


NADLER: Excuse me. National security letters properly used may be indispensable. But they were abused. That was the I.G...

GONZALES: There is no question about that.

NADLER: So why is the department issuing NSLs to conduct -- I'll just repeat the question -- to conduct fishing expeditions, as the I.G. put it...

CONYERS: The gentleman's time has expired.

NADLER: May I have one additional minute?

CONYERS: Finish the question.

NADLER: Thanks.

To access NSL information about parties two or three times removed from their subjects without determining if these contacts are real suspicious connections?

Let me add to that, why is there no policy or practice of destroying information collected thusly, wrongly collected on innocent Americans?

GONZALES: There's a long answer I need to give with respect to NSLs. I'm not sure whether or not now is the time to do it.

But the I.G. identified some very serious issues with respect to the FBI's use of national security letters. No question they're an indispensable tool, but they've got to be used in a responsible manner, and we failed to do that. There's no -- we did. We failed to do that.

GONZALES: And the American people need to understand that we are taking steps to ensure that that doesn't happen again. The standard is whether or not is it relevant to a national security investigation?

NADLER: Are you taking steps to destroy information on people who are not involved in terrorism?

GONZALES: Yes. If it's not relevant to a national security investigation, yes, we are taking steps.

NADLER: Well, the testimony was that those records were not being destroyed.

CONYERS: The chair recognizes the gentleman from North Carolina, Howard Coble.

COBLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And, General, good to have you on the Hill.

I'm going to pursue a different line of questioning. If time permits, I'm going to come back to the U.S. attorney situation.

General, I'm particularly interesting in the activities of the Computer Crime and Intellectual Properties Section, known as CCIP, at the Department of Justice.

Intellectual property theft is an enormous theft, as you and we all know. Are you confident, General, that the Justice Department has the necessary tools to investigate and prosecute high-level intellectual property cases that could severely interrupt or eliminate international criminal networks who are using intellectual property piracy to fund their organizations, A?

And B, I am told that there may be an insufficient number of FBI special agents at the department who, to successfully work these complicated cases.

And finally, C, General, how can we more successfully prevent or prosecute counterfeiting and intellectual piracy crimes in the United States and around the world?

That's a three-part question I threw at you.

GONZALES: Let me start with the last one, in terms of what we can do to work against counterfeiting.

One is prosecution, and utilizing the tools that Congress has given us to go after counterfeiters.

But not -- this is not an issue that we can deal with solely through the United States. We have to have the cooperation of our friends and allies around the world.

And so when I travel around the world, this is -- intellectual- property theft is always an issue that I raise. Because we can't successfully deal with it here in this country.

The second way to deal with counterfeiting is education, to educate the public about the dangers of counterfeiting. For example, if you're talking about counterfeiting of drugs, that could be dangerous to the consumer. If you're talking about counterfeiting of an airplane part, that could be dangerous to people who fly on airplanes. And so education is a very important part of that.

Whether or not we have sufficient agents working on these complicated cases, I suspect if I were to ask the director he would say we always need more resources. You always need more agents, because these are very, very complicated cases.

The whole area -- you know, computer technology, the Internet -- it's wonderful for consumers. It's wonderful for the American people. But the changes in technology are such that in the hands of criminals, in the hands of terrorists, it presents unique challenges to those of us in the law enforcement community.

Because these individuals -- criminals and terrorists will pay to advance technology. They see what we do. And so when we do something to defend against this kind of theft, defend against these kind of criminal activities, then they'll go out and they'll pay top dollar for the top innovators. And they get changes in technology, new encryption. And it makes it much more difficult for us to track them.

So this is a continuing struggle. It is a war on many fronts, whether you're talking about Internet pharmacies that are springing up that are illegitimate, whether or not you're talking about Internet crimes involving our children.

GONZALES: This is a real war that's being waged over the Internet, being waged through technology.

And I do sometimes worry that we don't have the best minds on this, we don't have adequate resources. And I think that's something that I'd love to talk to Congress about because I worry about this very much.

COBLE: Well, I, too, worry about it, General, and I'm concerned. I hope that the American public is aware of the threat that is potentially posed by this problem.

But in any event, I thank you for that.

Now let's come back to the U.S. attorney situation.

Since the U.S. attorney situation arose, General, have you implemented any new processes or procedures governing or dictating the dismissal of U.S. attorneys to ensure that a similar situation will not occur in the future in either this or future administrations?

GONZALES: I've certainly thought about what I would have done differently in terms of a more vigorous and a little bit more formal process.

But I want to emphasize something for the committee, and this is very important. I think to a person, in terms of the U.S. attorneys that I've spoken with, they don't want a formal review process. They don't like it. They don't want it.

They do want to be told if there are issues with their performance, have somebody let them know ahead of time and give them an opportunity to correct it.

The other reason I would resist a formal process is because we all serve at the pleasure of the president. And if, in fact, we had a formal process and that formal process says Al Gonzales is doing well, or that this U.S. attorney is doing well, politically it may make it more difficult for the president to exercise his constitutional authority.

So we don't want a formal process per se, but I think something a little bit more structured, something a little bit more vigorous would have made sense.

And clearly I think one thing that we are going to do is at least once a year every United States attorney is going to sit down with either myself or the deputy attorney general and we're going to have a very candid conversation about issues and problems in their districts. If I've heard of complaints from something that's a member of Congress, it gives me an opportunity or the DAG, the deputy attorney general, an opportunity to tell the U.S. attorney what we're hearing.

So I think that's something that needs to be in place. That's never been in place before.

The level of communication between main Justice and our United States attorneys, what I've discovered, is not very good. We can do better, and I think we are going to make it better.

COBLE: And I want to follow up, General, with the counterfeiting and piracy problem subsequently.

COBLE: And, Mr. Chairman, I see my red light is illuminated. So I will sit down and shut up.

CONYERS: Well, you can submit the question to him to be answered later.

COBLE: I thank you.

CONYERS: The subcommittee chairman on Crime, Bobby Scott of Virginia?

SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And thank you, Mr. Gonzales, for being with us today.

I wanted to pose a question and get a response in writing later from you. But we have -- Representative Wolf, Representative Maloney and I wrote you a letter a few months ago, recommending and requesting that you make better use of the tough measures in the Protect Act and the Adam Walsh Act to go after domestic traffickers in this country, rather than using measures only involving force, fraud and coercion.

The bills we passed make it much easier to go after the notorious and brutal system of domestic prostitution. And we are going to ask you why you're not making better use of that information.

Last week, we also had a vote on discrimination -- potential discrimination in the Head Start program. Is it -- you have not been able to discriminate in employment based on religion during the entirety of the 40 years of the Head Start program. An attempt was made to allow some to discriminate.

Can we count on your opposition to any effort to water down the discrimination prohibitions in the Head Start program?

GONZALES: Obviously, Congressman, that would be something that would be of concern to me. Whether or not I would oppose legislation, I have to look at it first. And the administration speaks with one voice, but it's something I would look at very seriously.

SCOTT: Can you conceive of your support for a provision that would tell a prospective Head Start teacher that, "You can't get a job here because of your religion"?

GONZALES: Well, Congressman, I'd like to look at that. But, again, that would be something that I would be concerned about.

SCOTT: One of the problems we've had in the Crime Subcommittee is the situation where people do not want to cooperate with the police.

SCOTT: There is a culture of no snitching and not coming forth to participate as witnesses.

Part of the problem is we have to have confidence that the criminal justice system is impartial.

Now, one of the questions that was asked -- I think the gentleman from Texas asked, did the White House ask you to seek removal of a U.S. attorney for retaliation?

Now, let me change that a little bit. Did the White House ask you to seek the removal of any U.S. attorney?

GONZALES: Congressman, I don't have a -- I have a recollection of Mr. Rove raising concerns about prosecutions of voter fraud cases in three districts.

Of course, I've now been made aware of the fact that there was a conversation with the president basically mentioned the same thing. This was in October of 2006.

We have a process -- there's a process within the White House Judicial Selection Committee process, where decisions are made with respect to the appointment of judges. That also involves the appointment of U.S. attorneys.

It's conceivable that in those meetings, there was some discussion about someone leaving. But I don't have any specific recollection...

SCOTT: The question of people leaving -- we had the CRS do an investigation. And they only found 10 cases of U.S. attorneys leaving -- other than the usual practice of a new set coming in, only 10 in the last 25 years. And they found that each and every one of those is involved in a scandal or removed for cause.

Can you give us the name of anyone in the last 25 years that you know of that CRS couldn't find that was fired or asked to leave involuntarily, other than a scandal?

GONZALES: I'm not familiar with the CRS report. I don't know how they conducted their review.

I will tell you that there are many instances where someone engages in certain kinds of conduct that are improper. There's a quiet conversation that occurs. And then that person decides, "I'm going to leave voluntarily."

And so I don't know whether or not the CRS is capable of identifying those kinds of...


They couldn't find one that didn't leave other than for cause.

Now, in your testimony you indicated that it would be an improper reason for the removal of a U.S. attorney, and an improper reason would be the replacement of one or more U.S. attorneys in order to impede or speed along particular criminal investigations for illegitimate reasons.

You call that improper. Wouldn't that be illegal?

GONZALES: Yes, that would be interference...


GONZALES: ... depending on the circumstances.

SCOTT: Now, the -- in light of the fact that some people have been designated as loyal Bushies, we know that some people -- some of the U.S. attorneys got telephone calls from political figures and were fired.

SCOTT: Are you aware of any that got political phone calls, with attempts to apply political pressure, that were not fired?

GONZALES: I would have to go back and look at that, Congressman.

SCOTT: The editorial that was put in the record indicates that Mrs. Yang had been designated -- been called by you as one of the most respected U.S. attorneys in the country.

The editorial says that Harriet Miers focused on only two U.S. attorneys for removal, her and one other.

Can you explain how Mrs. Yang's name got on that list of attorneys to be removed?

GONZALES: I don't recall that her name was on the list of attorneys to be removed.

But let me just say...

SCOTT: Well, she was targeted -- was she not targeted by Harriet Miers?

GONZALES: I think -- I recall knowing about Ms. Yang's concern about remaining in the position because of the financial situation. She would have to -- it was my understanding...

SCOTT: Was she not on a target list of Harriet Miers?

GONZALES: I don't recall her being on a target list for Harriet Miers.

I think that Ms. Miers may have known about Ms. Yang's concern about continuing to remain on the job for financial reasons. And therefore, that being a very important office, it would be understandable...

SCOTT: You dispute the editorial in the New York Times, May 4, 2007?

GONZALES: I haven't read the editorial, Congressman. What I'm trying to tell you is that...


GONZALES: ... is that Ms. Miers may have known...

SCOTT: If you could respond in writing so that you can...

CONYERS: Time's expired.

SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, could I ask just that he respond in writing to the allegations made in the editorial?

Thank you.

CONYERS: The gentleman from California, Elton Gallegly?

GALLEGLY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Welcome, General Gonzales.

As members of this committee and as members of Congress, we all have varied priorities, as I'm sure you're well aware. But I would hope that no priority for any member of this committee or this Congress is greater than working to make this nation as safe as possible, as it relates to another terrorist attack.

Mr. Gonzales, The Washington Post reported just this morning that at least two members of an alleged terrorist cell in New Jersey were illegal aliens and had been stopped by the police repeatedly for traffic violations.

GALLEGLY: This is eerily similar to the case of Mohammed Atta, who was here illegally and was pulled over by the Florida State Police for a traffic violation. A mere month later, he flew an airplane into the World Trade Center.

What steps is the Department of Justice taking to ensure that illegal aliens who are stopped for traffic violations or other crimes are identified and deported?

GONZALES: Well, of course, those stops generally would occur by state and local officials.


GONZALES: And the question is whether or not -- is that information shared with the department and shared with the Department of Homeland Security?

And I know there's been a concerted effort by the Department of Homeland Security to try and encourage state and locals to be of more assistance in dealing with illegal aliens here in this country.

And, obviously, some jurisdictions are prohibited by law from doing so. Some jurisdictions do not want to do so because they don't have the resources, because they believe it will hurt their relationships in the community. But some jurisdictions are stepping up and providing additional assistance.

And where in fact we can prosecute people, we do so. But I'll be candid with you, Congressman: I mean, it's a question of resources in many cases because you're talking about thousands and hundreds of thousands of people. And unless you're talking about someone who's engaged in a very serious crime, sometimes the resources are such that we have to look at prosecuting other crimes first.

GALLEGLY: Well, I appreciate the answer, and I know that's an ongoing problem working with other jurisdictions. But, as you well know, history has a very, very strong history of repeating itself. That's the reason I asked that question.

On an issue that is more directly related to your office, this past Saturday -- and I'm not normally one that quotes The Washington Post, but it was a source of a page-one story that interested me greatly. It was regarding the issue of illegal immigrants who have ignored and evaded deportation orders.

These people, who are known as alien absconders, are not just people who came to the country illegally, but in many cases are those that have committed serious crimes in this country.

The article points out that, as of April of this year, there is a backlog of over 636,000 illegal alien absconders.

GALLEGLY: This number has more than doubled since the year 2001.

What is the Department of Justice doing to identify, apprehend, deport -- and deport alien absconders and those that have flaunted the deportation orders by the United States courts? And are you satisfied with that as a priority?

GONZALES: I think that we're doing everything we can do.

But, quite frankly, again, because there are issues relating to resources -- there's also issues relating to space, bed space in our prisons, and bed space that can be contracted out from state and local jurisdictions.

And so I'm confident that we're doing everything that we can do. But, again, it's a question of seeing if we can find additional space to actually hold these people.

And, again, I think this would be one reason why I think the president is supportive of comprehensive immigration reform that is workable. Because we have to have a system, whatever we do by Congress. And the president has laid out principles that he supports.

But whatever it is, it's got to be one that's workable, where we don't have a situation that someone who's been determined to be unlawfully in this country nonetheless is released because we have no place to put them. And then they hide in our neighborhoods.

GALLEGLY: In the last 18 months of your term, what specific steps are you planing to take to improve the process of prosecuting those who violate immigration laws, particularly drug smugglers and human trafficking?

GONZALES: I think one of the things we're going to do is have a conversation with United States attorneys, get an assessment about what additional resources may be available to throw at these particular cases, have a conversation perhaps with the -- Harley Lappin, the director of prisons to see, is there anything else that we can do for additional bed space? What can we do in terms of contracting out? Have more conversations with the Department of Homeland Security.

So these are things that we could look at.

But I think to really address this problem, it will probably require additional resources, and I think seriously requires a change in our immigration laws.

GONZALES: We need to have a system that is comprehensive and one that is really workable.

CONYERS: Time's expired.

GALLEGLY: I see that the time has expired.

I'd just like to respond to the statement that, with all due respect, Attorney General, I think that the laws aren't the primary problem. I think the will to enforce the laws as it relates to immigration plays a very big role.

And, Mr. Chairman, with your permission, because of the time situation, I would ask unanimous consent that we may be able to ask additional questions in writing and have them responded to and made a part of the record of the hearing.

CONYERS: Absolutely. That's been understood, and we will continue that procedure.

GALLEGLY: Thank you.

CONYERS: The chair of the Immigration Subcommittee, Zoe Lofgren?

LOFGREN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I do have some questions on the U.S. attorney situation. But before I ask that, I would just like the attorney general not to answer today, but to spend some time attending to the dreadful situation of the FBI name check.

As of May 4th of this month, USCIS had sent and had pending 300,000-plus names to the FBI; 155,000 of those name checks have been pending for more than six months. And we know, historically, that far less than 1 percent ever have any problem.

But this is a real problem for two points of view.

One, economically, if you've got somebody that needs to be cleared, this messes it up. And, as a matter of fact, I just got a call from a venture capitalist in Silicon Valley, this huge venture that could end up hiring hundreds of Americans, is just stalled because of a three-year delay. They just can't get any answer at all out of the engineer and the inventor that they know about.

The other side is, for that less than 1 percent, we're not finding them, and that could be a threat.

So I don't want you to answer now, but I do hope that you will get back to this committee, because it's an outrageous situation.

Now I would like to inquire about the situation of U.S. Attorney Todd Graves.

Here we have been pursuing -- I'm on the subcommittee of jurisdiction -- we thought there was an eight attorney general situation. And now, according to press reports, there's a ninth U.S. attorney situation.

LOFGREN: And I'd like to know, the news media is reporting that Mr. Graves had been targeted for removal on Mr. Samson's list as early as January of 2006. And one reason suggested in the press is that in November of 2005 the U.S. attorney, Mr. Graves, refused to sign onto a lawsuit that was proposed by main Justice accusing the state of Missouri of improper conduct regarding its voter rolls.

Would you have recommended Mr. Graves for removal based on that exercise of his prosecutorial judgment?

GONZALES: I have no basis to believe that, in fact, Mr. Graves -- that that particular case has anything to do with Mr. Graves' departure. I've spoken with the head of the Civil Rights Division this morning about this; obviously just became aware of Mr. Graves' statements in today paper.

I spoke with him -- Wan Kim, head of the Civil Rights Division. He signed the complaint. He stands behind that particular case. He's not aware of any concerns that existed in that office.

Now, we haven't spoken to everyone in that office, but we're not aware of any concerns that existed in that office with respect to this particular case. The assistant U.S. attorney signed on the complaint as well. Mr. Graves' name is on the complaint.

The case involved whether or not the voter lists were accurate in Missouri, and the Democratic secretary of state issued a statement saying...

LOFGREN: Mr. Attorney General, are you aware that just last month this litigation was dismissed for lack of evidence?

LOFGREN: Doesn't that suggest that the judgment not to file might have been the right one?

GONZALES: Well, again, we are evaluating whether to appeal. But it's my understanding that the judge decided that the department should not have sued the secretary of state but should have sued the local jurisdictions. So that's the basis for the dismissal -- the primary basis for the dismissal as I understand it.

And, again, the Democratic secretary of state issued a statement saying basically, "You got us. Our roles are incomplete and inaccurate." And I think it's legitimate for the American people to expect that voting lists be reasonably accurate. That's what Congress required in its laws.

LOFGREN: I understand -- and this is really based on press reports so I don't have any firsthand knowledge -- that Mr. Schlozman had vote fraud experience but little prosecutorial experience, and that when Mr. Graves was left, that Mr. Schlozman was almost immediately appointed by you as his replacement.

It seemed to me -- I mean, just looking it at, doesn't it look like there was some plan in place to replace this Mr. Graves with Mr. Schlozman related to this prosecution? And isn't it true that the department's own criteria for bringing lawsuits would tend to indicate that lawsuits would not be brought just before an election?

GONZALES: The substance and timing of the -- well, let me just say again that I spoke with the head of the Civil Rights Division this morning and he stands behind this litigation. He believes it was an appropriate use of the department's resources. And we will determine whether or not to...

LOFGREN: Well, I don't want to be rude, Mr. Gonzales, but the bells are ringing and I just have one more second to read very briefly the quotes in the Boston Globe that says -- and I quote -- "Schlozman was reshaping the Civil Rights Division said Joe Rich, who was chief of the Voting Rights Section until 2005. In an interview he said, quote, 'Schlozman didn't know anything about voting law. All he knew was he wanted to make sure that Republicans were going to win.'"

And that was from the career guy who got pushed out from the department. I would like your comments on that, in writing, later.

I know my time has expired, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: Former attorney general of California, Daniel Lungren?

LUNGREN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Attorney General, when I was attorney general of California, I only had 1,000 lawyers and 5,000 employees. How many do you have?

GONZALES: Approximately 110,000.

LUNGREN: And how many lawyers?

GONZALES: Oh, about, I think, 10,000 to 15,000.

LUNGREN: And how many U.S. attorneys?

GONZALES: We have 93 U.S. attorneys.

LUNGREN: Do you actually delegate?


LUNGREN: Do you delegate authority at times?

GONZALES: Of course.

LUNGREN: I mean, that seems to be a surprise here, that you would delegate.

I mean, I delegated occasionally when I was attorney general. And sometimes I found out that those to whom I delegated responsibilities didn't perform the way I thought they would, and tried to make some changes thereafter.

But really, we sometimes confuse here, it seems to me, the question of competence versus the question of criminality. And that's the concern that, of all committees of the House, this ought to be of the highest priority.

Let me ask you this: In terms of U.S. attorneys, do you expect that they should reflect the emphases of the president of the United States?

And what I mean by that is, we have presidential elections every four years. A president comes in and says, "I want to make crime- fighting the number one priority; I want to give assistance to the states with their drug-fighting; I want to assist the states in going after gangs."

Do you expect that your U.S. attorneys ought to at least pay some attention to the priorities of a president of the United States, that is, his administration's policies?

GONZALES: Yes. In fact, we have a conversation with him when they come on board and we make it clear that the president's accountable to the American people for the policies and priorities which he campaigned on. And those can only be carried out by the attorney general...

LUNGREN: But isn't that political?

GONZALES: Well, I think, with respect to policies and priorities, one could say it's political, but that would be OK. That would be OK to do...

LUNGREN: I think so, but some people find that shocking.

It's been said -- and I know we're not supposed to counter editorials of the New York Times and other articles, but I'm aware of at least one case, in a U.S. attorney in California, in a prior administration, that left office.

You won't find a record that that person left office because of lack of performance, but I happen to believe that's the case.

LUNGREN: We're acting around this place like U.S. attorneys are the product of the Immaculate Conception, and once they've been created that cannot be undone.

Now, let me ask you this about voter fraud: Do you believe that we ought to investigate voter fraud that might take place as the result of people who are dead still being on the rolls?

GONZALES: Congressman, it is the law. We have an obligation to investigate and prosecute voter fraud.

Where this notion that somehow voter fraud is a dirty word, I don't understand it. Because you're talking about people stealing votes, canceling out legitimate votes. And so we have an obligation -- as a minority, to me it's extremely important to make sure that votes count. And I think we have an obligation at the department to pursue voter fraud.

LUNGREN: I've been a little confused by some of the statements that have come out of the Justice Department and from you, quite frankly, Mr. Attorney General, about the propriety of reviewing the performance of U.S. attorneys who might be performing well as attorneys, but not be bringing forward the emphases or the priorities of the administration.

Do you think that's an appropriate thing to bring up in terms of a review, as opposed to whether or not they're good attorneys and they prosecute cases well; that is, the array of their resources with respect to the priorities of the administration?


LUNGREN: And would that, could that be the grounds for making a determination as to whether a U.S. attorney stays?

GONZALES: It could be.

LUNGREN: Under the statute, does a U.S. attorney have a prescribed term?

GONZALES: The statute says four years. But, of course, the statute also says that they may be removed by the president.

LUNGREN: So it's a maximum of four years unless reappointed. Is that correct?

GONZALES: What is customary -- I wouldn't say customary. What often happens is that U.S. attorneys simply hold over unless there's a decision made by the president to make some kind of change.

LUNGREN: So I'm trying to...

GONZALES: What I would say is that we all serve -- this is a privilege. I have the privilege of serving as the attorney general.

If the president comes to me today and says, "I no longer have pleasure in you continuing to serve," that's the way it works.

LUNGREN: Did the president of the United States or anybody from the White House tell you to investigate or remove any U.S. attorney because they were launching a particular investigation against a Democrat or Republican for partisan reasons, or to back off of any such prosecution?

GONZALES: They never said it to me.

LUNGREN: Did you ever say that to anybody?


LUNGREN: Anybody in your department say that that you know of?

GONZALES: Not that I'm aware of.

LUNGREN: Thank you, Mr. Attorney General.

CONYERS: Mr. Attorney General, we are going to recess for the votes, of course. And we will resume immediately after the votes have taken place on the floor of the House.

Thank you very much.


CONYERS: Committee will come to order.

We thank you for your cooperation, Attorney General.

The chair recognizes the gentlelady from Houston, Texas, Sheila Jackson-Lee.

JACKSON-LEE: Thank you very much.

Good afternoon, Mr. General.

And let me thank the chairman and the ranking member. This is a vital hearing and question-and-answer process for protecting the integrity of the Constitution and the integrity of your office, which I assume you've come today to be as open as you could be in order to ensure that that happens.

Before I start the questioning on the matter at hand, let me share with you consternation and frustration that we have dealing with a question of the viability, the constitutionality of the prison system in the state of Texas.

It goes really to the overall question that this chart that I will hold up suggests, is that under your tenure, starting from 2005, every civil rights case has gone down. It means police abuse, racial violence, hate crimes, human trafficking under your clock and under your watch, it has been a steady decline of prosecutions by the attorney general.

That poses a crisis for America.

Let me just quickly ask for your assistance. You may not be able to answer this, but this is a crisis.

I hold up an article that indicates that in Houston, Texas, we will double the number of deaths in the Harris County jail; 11 right now, 117 over 10 years, and a sheriff who is completely absent from the sensitivity of the constitutional rights of the inmates.

Let me just quickly say to you that here is an example. Calvin Mack, a homeless and hardened drug addict, continued to bleed, continued to die. The -- if you will, the person in the jail said, "What do you want me to do, get a Band-Aid?" a deputy quipped when he was asked to come to the cell block. Four hours passed before the officer called for medical help. By then Mack was all but dead.

JACKSON-LEE: In the Texas Youth Commission, it says that a Texas Youth Commission's officer was arrested for having sex with a female youth.

And so my question to you is, it is clear that we have a crisis in the prosecution of constitutional rights of those -- the underserved, if you will. We know if you're in jail, you've committed some sort of an offense, but you deserve the question of the Constitution.

My question to you, one, I'd like to have a meeting with all of your staff asking for an inspector generals' investigation of the Harris County Jail and the Texas Youth Commission. You have letters that I sent, you sent back saying, "We think you have concerns. Send us more information."

I am happy to be an investigator for the DOJ. It is not my job right now. I am happy to participate with giving you family members and others whose loved ones have died, but I believe this warrants an official Justice Department investigation to make good on these low, low numbers of prosecuting civil rights, constitutional rights of any number of individuals.

Can I yield to you just for the answer? I have letters from your department. You can review them. Can we work together to ensure the safety and security of youth inmates in the TYC, and those in the Harris County Jail?


JACKSON-LEE: I'd look forward to a more extensive answer and a meeting, and I will be happy to present family members and others.

And I, likewise, in your capacity, invite you to Houston, Texas, so that we can have a larger assessment of this situation. People are dying and this is prevalent across America, and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss, at another round, the whole question of police abuse and other issues.

Let me just move forward more as we look at the issues at hand, and with all due respect, let me say to you (OFF-MIKE).

And I'd like you to think about how telling they are...

CONYERS: You've got 48 seconds left.

JACKSON-LEE: (OFF-MIKE) hitting back the Congress, and this whole thing of Deputy Attorney General Alston (ph) reacted quite a bit to the idea of anyone voluntarily testifying. And he seemed to threaten Bud Cummins, and said, "You will regret coming forward and testifying."

JACKSON-LEE: Mr. Attorney General, with all these political comments, how are you going to fix this troubling and devastating litany of duplicity in your department? What steps have you taken to address these problems?

I'd appreciate, Mr. Attorney General, your answer.

The light is still on.

GONZALES: Obviously, there have been some very serious allegations made, Congresswoman. And one of the things that we're going to do with respect to these serious allegations is that we have made referrals to the Office of Professional Responsibility and to the Office of Inspector General.

These entities exist in order to respond to allegations, to do investigations to reassure the American public that in fact we take these kinds of allegations very, very seriously.

But I want to put everything in perspective for you. I think that there have been allegations made with respect to the conduct of three political appointees in the entirety of the Department of Justice. There are hundreds of political appointees, there are tens of thousands of career employees at the Department of Justice.

So I don't want the American people to believe that in fact politicalization is running rampant in the department, because that's just not true.

Obviously, I take these allegations very seriously. I don't want to minimize them. But to the extent that allegations are made that there's improper conduct, they are referred where they should be referred. We are doing an investigation to ensure that in fact, if anything improper happened here, we're going to get to the bottom of it. And there will be accountability.

JACKSON-LEE: Thank you.

Mr. Chairman, I'd like to put into the record the two articles that I referred to -- which are the Houston Chronicle, dated April 5th, 2007, and the Chronicle dated April 25th, 2007.

And I would just simply say...

CONYERS: Without objection, so ordered.

JACKSON-LEE: ... is the attorney general offers a wonderful mea culpa, but I would just say...

CONYERS: The chair recognizes...

JACKSON-LEE: ... the perception is there.

I thank the...

CONYERS: ... the ranking subcommittee member...


CONYERS: ... of Commercial and Administrative Law, Chris Cannon?

CANNON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'd like to submit for the record also a letter from Randy Mastro at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

CONYERS: Without objection.

CANNON: This is a letter that rebuts Mr. Cohen's (ph) editorial, and points out that they did not offer Ms. Yang $1.5 million.

CANNON: And in addition to that, she recused herself while she was at the department, and she is not participating in those issues where she's gone. And they praise her as a great attorney.

Secondly, let's see...


CANNON: No, this is the Cohen (ph) editorial, the one she referred to, yes.

General Gonzales, thanks for being here. I think you're very gracious to address these accusations as serious and not react to the suggestion of duplicity -- there may be duplicity, out of 110,000 employees -- but I think you've been very direct here this morning.

You're familiar with Mr. Margolis at the Department of Justice, are you not?


CANNON: And my understand is he's the senior career employee at the department. Is that right?

GONZALES: I think he may not be the senior, but he's certainly one of the most senior.

CANNON: Probably one of the most outspoken. And he was actually interviewed, and I'd like to read some of the comments that he made.

He was asked by Mr. Broderick Socal (ph), "And then you testified that you said something to the effect of, but this does open the door to a more responsible -- and you used that word, that is, 'more responsible' -- to a focused process to identify weak performers and make some changes. And you thought that was a good idea."

And Mr. Margolis said -- responded, "I thought it was a great idea, long overdue."

Now, I believe it was Mr. Scott who was talking about the CRS report on firings at the Department of Justice, which is retrospective, of course. And here you've got a senior member -- or senior person at the Department of Justice pointing out that he thought what you were doing here was a great idea.

A little more here: "To move onto another thing, you mentioned during your testimony earlier in the day, I believe, that you had indicated that you thought it was good of the department to embark on an exercise like this; that is, reviewing U.S. attorneys."

Mr. Margolis; "Absolutely. And I -- I should add, one of my sadnesses" -- his word -- "I have a lot of sadness about this, but it was a great idea. Our execution wasn't particularly good, but we didn't have much experience with it."

So this is a new idea, a new process here.

"But one of my great sadnesses is I fear that, down the road, people will shy away from doing this again because of the burning here."

In other words, he's condemning the politicization of this process.

"And so, when a U.S. attorney called me a couple of weeks ago to run an idea past me," he said, 'I want to take some action, but I want to run it past you and take your temperature, because I don't want to get fired.'"

CANNON: "I said to him, 'Buddy, you could urinate on the president's leg now, and it wouldn't work,'" suggesting that the department has, in fact, been affected. And, again, Mr. Margolis is one of the very senior career guys who happens -- I think you would agree he loves the department...

GONZALES: No question about that.

CANNON: ... cares about the institution...


CANNON: ... cares about the integrity of the institution...


CANNON: And was called on to testify because they thought he would do what he suggested could not be -- or could be done without fear of being fired, I suppose. "Were you involved in any way," he was asked, "about the decision to put Ms. Lam on the list?" He says, "So it didn't surprise me in that sense because when Mercer (ph) was PDAG, he used to tell me about problems he was having with here, vis-a-vis immigration and immigration and guns, I believe." Then he goes on and he says, "Based upon my interaction with her and what other people, including Ms. Mercer (ph), said, both then and now, and reading my -- and I love Carol like a sister; an outstanding investigative lawyer, an outstanding trial lawyer, tough as nails, honest as the day is long, but had her own ideas about what the priorities of the department would be and was probably insubordinate on those things." That's -- nobody is claiming Mr. Margolis is political or politicizing this process. He's saying this is a process that was good, and he wants it to happen or continue. Later he says, "She called me primarily to tell me that. I think she said, "I think I just got fired by Mike Battle.'" But later he says, "And then she speculated to me that is was over immigration and guns." She then told what the problem was. By the way, I think he said it was a very pleasant conversation. So this is not about competency, nobody's saying Ms. Lam wasn't competent, but she wasn't doing -- and she understood she wasn't doing -- what the president wanted.

CANNON: Do you think that's correct, Mr. Gonzales?

GONZALES: First of all, let me just say that Carol and these other United States attorneys, I mean, they're fine individuals, very, very, very fine lawyers...

CANNON: Thank you. I don't want to cut you off, but I do want -- I just want to put one more in. This is Mr. Margolis again. "I was asked about David Iglesias. Given everything I know today, he would have been number one on my list to go." "That's because he didn't call and report the phone calls?" "That's right." And he goes on to talk about that. So we did have some problems with some of these guys in the sense that they weren't exactly paradigms of competence, were they?

GONZALES: It was my idea that these individuals had been identified by the senior leadership in the department as having issues or concerns and that a chance would be legitimate and...


CANNON: While I still have the yellow light, I agree with you, but you have a huge department to run. I think Mr. Lungren talked about the number, 110,000 people. You have said at one point in time that you delegated responsibility and you've been criticized for that. And on the other hand somebody pointed out you had five meetings with Mr. Sampson over a period of time. Over, by the way, 24 months. That's one meeting every five months. Do you think that was the appropriate level of oversight given what you knew then as opposed to what you know now, looking back?

GONZALES: Well, of course, in hindsight, no. I think I would have done -- I would have done the process differently. I would have had a more structured process, a more vigorous process. Again, not a formal process, but something more structured where I had more direct communication with Mr. Sampson, let him know exactly what I expected. I would let him know what things that I think should properly be considered in evaluating the performance of U.S. attorneys, who I want him to consult with, who I wanted the recommendation to come from. I would have ensured that he had at least -- there'd have been at least one face-to-face meeting with each of the United States attorneys, not just these eight, but all 93, and have a discussion about their performance. So there were some things that I think we could have done differently, should have done better. And going forward there'll be some changes to make sure that we operate the department in a way that everyone expects.

CANNON: But you learned from it, and it's a process you hope will continue, I take it. Or at least I hope it will continue. Mr. Chairman, I realize my...

GONZALES: I think we have an obligation, quite frankly, as head of a department for the American people to ensure that public servants are doing their job.

CANNON: So do I. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I recognize my time's up and I yield back.

CONYERS: The distinguished gentleman from North Carolina, Mel Watt?

WATT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, Mr. Attorney General, let me first apologize for not being here for your testimony. Unfortunately, I'm chairing a subcommittee in another committee and had to be there for a hearing that we had scheduled before we found out you were going to testify. So accept my apologies please. In the prior hearings, Mr. Attorney General, I've been devoting some time to trying to figure out what happened with the firing of John McKay. And on April 19 you told the Senate that you had accepted the recommendation to fire Mr. McKay because he had shown bad judgment in pushing an information-sharing system and in speaking to the press about the department -- about department resources.

WATT: You remember that testimony?

GONZALES: Yes. I hope, though, that I said the concern was not that it was pushing for the information-sharing system, but the manner in which he pushed it.

WATT: OK. Well, that really doesn't have much relevance to the next set of things I want to ask you about. Whatever he was pushing or not pushing occurred in the summer of 2006. The letter on the information system you discussed in the Senate was dated August 30, 2006, it turns out. And Mr. McKay's comments to the press were reflected in an e- mail on September 22, 2006. And, unfortunately, we now have evidence that -- documentation, in fact -- that Mr. McKay was already targeted for removal by Mr. Sampson in March of 2005, because the documents show that he was already on the list. So are you aware of any legitimate reason that John McKay should have been forced out as a U.S. attorney in March of 2005, as opposed to the things you had talked about that occurred in 2006?

GONZALES: I would have to go back and look at that, Congressman. Again, what I recall is that when I accepted the recommendations, I was not surprised to see Mr. McKay included, because I was aware of concerns in the way that he pushed this information-sharing project. Again -- and I applaud his efforts. He was doing his job.

WATT: OK, Mr. Attorney General, I understand what you're saying. You've got to go back and look. But there's been some suggestion, unfortunately -- our investigators asked Kyle Sampson his -- and he said that he remembered department officials being upset that Mr. McKay had pushed for action regarding the department's investigation of the murder of Thomas Wales.

WATT: And there was some concern that he was not being -- that he was being overly aggressive in pursuing the people who had murdered Thomas Wales. And so a lot of people are viewing this as being admirable, not something that somebody should be fired for. Would you agree with that?

GONZALES: That is -- certainly, it wasn't in my mind a reason why I accepting the recommendation. And I was not aware of these specific concerns within the department until very, very recently. So I don't know why -- if that was a reason why he was included as part of the recommended group, that's something you'd have to ask others involved in this process because I have not had the opportunity to do that.

WATT: And if it was a -- if that was among the reasons, would you agree with Mr. McKay who has characterized this as -- I'm going to quote exactly what he says, "The idea that I was pushing too hard to investigate the assassination of a federal prosecutor is mind- numbing," close quote. If it's true, it's just immoral; and if it's false, then the idea that the Department of Justice would use the death of Tom Wales to cover up what they did is just unconscionable.

GONZALES: I'm not...

WATT: Would you agree that it would be immoral and unconscionable for you all to be firing somebody because they were investigating the death of one of their own staff people?

GONZALES: That's a crime and we have an obligation to, of course, investigate it and prosecute those responsible for it. I'm not aware that the department, however, is using that as a reason or excuse... (CROSSTALK)

WATT: Well, you obviously haven't listened to the testimony of some of the people in the department then, because that was an excuse that was advanced initially.

And that's the problem here, Mr. Attorney General. There are so many different excuses advanced at different times, whenever it's convenient, that you have this appearance that there is something else there. And in this case, Mr. McKay also failed to aggressively, or as aggressively, prosecute, as some people thought he ought to prosecute, and pursue some voting fraud cases that were taking place after an election took place.

WATT: And it might have had some impact on a Democrat versus a Republican being elected. So if that concern that the public is concerned about, Mr. Attorney General -- if that's at the bottom of this, that would be an improper motivation for a termination, and would be illegal. Wouldn't you agree?

GONZALES: I agree that if in fact there was pressure put on Mr. McKay to investigate a case which didn't warrant an investigation -- but obviously, there may be circumstances where an investigation may have been warranted. And so we'd have to look at the circumstances of a particular case. I don't recall that when I made my -- when I accepted the recommendation, Congressman, that that was a reason for it, is his efforts with respect to voter fraud. But clearly, I do -- going back and looking at the documents and the correspondences, there was a great deal of concern about his efforts with respect to voter fraud. Because I received a number of letters from groups and outside parties...

WATT: So you didn't fire him for that reason, but somebody might have put him on the list for that reason? That's really what you're saying, Mr. Attorney General.

GONZALES: I don't -- again, Congressman, I'm assuming that this committee has spoken with everyone who provided input. And, of course, the person who was compiling the information, Mr. Sampson, would know better than I. Because I'm a fact witness. I haven't talked to these other fact witnesses about what happened here.


WATT: I'll yield back, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: Mr. Bob Goodlatte, the distinguished gentleman from Virginia?

GOODLATTE: Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. General Gonzales, welcome. I know you may not particularly feel like this is a welcoming occasion, but I do want to remind everybody here that this is an oversight hearing that is periodically held by this committee on the United States Department of Justice. General Gonzales, you have the responsibility for thousands of employees in your department. You have responsibility for the enforcement of thousands of federal laws related to criminal activity that occur in this country. And I'd like to take the opportunity -- while I know many here have focused on the issue of the termination of seven or eight, or whatever the number is, of those employees who were terminated because it was your opinion and those who report to you that they were not properly enforcing those laws and taking necessary steps to do that, nonetheless there are many, many dedicated employees of the department who are attempting to do that. So I would like to attempt to ask you about some of those other areas that are very important to my constituents.

GOODLATTE: We have, in this country, millions of jobs related to the creativity of our country. They are protected by our intellectual property laws. And we face the loss of many of those jobs, both here at home and overseas, due to people stealing other people's creative ideas. And I wonder if you could update us on your efforts to enforce our nation's intellectual property laws against theft of people's ideas due to violation of patent and copyright and trademark laws that are protected in the United States Constitution.

GONZALES: Well, we've got special units within the FBI and within main Justice, involving prosecutors to focus on intellectual property issues. We have an intellectual property task force that was stood up under General Ashcroft. I have continued that. They came out with a series of recommendations. All of those recommendations have now been promulgated and stood up. We've embarked on an education campaign, reaching out to students, informing them of the importance of intellectual property, that it's something that, as Americans, we should work to strive to protect. We've reached out to the various trade groups, movies and music industry, businesses, to talk about the importance of this. I've spoken with state legislators about the importance of state laws to assist us, because there are limited resources that we have to enforce and prosecute piracy, but perhaps states can help us. But this is an issue that goes beyond our borders. To be effective, we have to also have the support of our friends and allies overseas. And so we've had dialogues.

GONZALES: We've encouraged people to be participants in the Cybercrime Convention, which will allow for greater sharing of information that will help us with prosecutions. So I think that we've got a good story to tell. But no question about it that there's a lot of money to be made in connection with intellectual property theft. And whenever you can make a lot of money, people want to engage in that kind of activity. And so we really need to stay focused, and I look forward to working in Congress to engage in a dialogue about what additional laws, what additional tools would be helpful to help us in dealing with this issue.

GOODLATTE: Thank you, General Gonzales. Another area that is of concern to a great many Americans is the fact that we have a serious problem in this country with illegal gambling. Last year it's estimated more than $6 billion went out of the country to untaxed, unregulated, illegal sites. There are many, many ills that have been identified with gambling, particularly illegal gambling because of its lack of any kind of regulation -- family problems, problems with gambling my minors, gambling addictions, organized crime, bankruptcy; the list is long. And Internet gambling poses a very problem because it essentially puts a casino in everybody's home, much less down the street or in a community where many communities have fought against and do not have that type of gambling operations in their community. So I want to thank you for your leadership in combating illegal gambling operations, and particularly your aggressive prosecution of overseas Internet-based gambling operations that violate U.S. laws. That has not gone unnoticed and I'd like to applaud your efforts. As you know, the Congress recently passed illegal Internet gambling legislation to prohibit the acceptance of payment for illegal Internet gambling bets, showing our commitment to combating these activities. It passed by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote, including members on both sides of the aisle in this committee. And I want to know if we can count on your to continue these aggressive criminal prosecutions against illegal, online gambling operations.

GONZALES: Yes, Congressman. I want to thank the Congress for this additional tool. Obviously we're in the process now -- the Treasury Department working on regulations. They're consulting with the Department of Justice, and hopefully we can make some progress on that real soon.

GOODLATTE: The prosecution of some of these -- I apologize, Mr. Chairman. I thank the general.

CONYERS: Thank you. The distinguished gentlelady from Los Angeles, California, Maxine Waters?

WATERS: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Attorney General, I would like to talk with you about gangs in this country and the greater Los Angeles area. But I won't do that today, because I think that your credibility is on the line. And you've been questioned about the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys, and it appears to have been politically motivated, even though there's been some denial of that. I'd like to ask you a few questions. First of all, did you review the personnel files of these attorneys after the accusation of them being fired for a political reason? And did you see anything in their files that showed that they had been reprimanded, they had been advised, they had been charged with not handling their duties in a responsible way?

GONZALES: Congresswoman, I look forward to talking with you about gangs. With respect to the U.S. attorney issue, what I did was relied upon the judgment of those who...

WATERS: Did you review the files after...

GONZALES: I did not review the personnel files...

WATERS: Have you reviewed them at all since all of this has taken place?

GONZALES: What I have done is, I've gone back and spoken to the deputy attorney general...

WATERS: Have you reviewed the files?

GONZALES: I have not reviewed the files. I've gone back...

WATERS: So you don't know whether or not they had been advised, they had been warned, they had been reprimanded about their work at all?

GONZALES: I think the answer to that -- I don't think that they have. In fact, I think...

WATERS: But you didn't review the files, so you didn't in their files whether or not they had been advised, reprimanded, suspended or anything about their work? Is that right?

GONZALES: I did not review their files.

WATERS: You knew you were coming here today. You know we've been trying to get unredacted documents from you about what happened in your department. Did you bring them with you today?

GONZALES: No, ma'am. I brought...

WATERS: Are you resisting giving us the documents that we're asking of you that's related to the firing of these attorneys?

GONZALES: No, ma'am. I'm not involved in making production decisions. And I'm recused from...

WATERS: Would you advise the department to give us those documents?

GONZALES: I am recused from that, ma'am. I can't do that.

WATERS: Why are you recused from that?

GONZALES: Because I'm a fact witness in this investigation. And in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety...

WATERS: You simply cannot -- can you tell us whether or not you think, you have an opinion that they should be given to us?

GONZALES: No, ma'am, I'm not going to comment...


WATERS: All right. Thank you.

Did you meet with the president about this issue?

GONZALES: Which issue is this, ma'am?

WATERS: Did you and the president meet to discuss the accusations of the politically motivated firing of these eight U.S. attorneys?

GONZALES: Ma'am, I wouldn't -- I disagree with your characterization as politically motivated.

WATERS: I'm not characterizing. I'm asking you, have you met with the president of the United States to discuss what has been accused of politically motivated firing?

GONZALES: Again, I would not characterize it as politically motivated.


WATERS: Well, OK. Have you met with the president of the United States to discuss these firings?

GONZALES: I have a lot of discussions with the president of the United States...


WATERS: Did you discuss with the president of the United States the fact that your department was being requested to supply documents? Or did you advise the president?

GONZALES: I have not spoken to the president with respect to document production. Again, Congresswoman, I am recused from those decisions.

WATERS: Did the president say anything to you about the fact that documents had been requested of the White House and asked your opinion about whether or not those documents should be given to this committee?

GONZALES: No, ma'am, the president has not asked for my opinion as to whether or not the White House should turn over documents. And, again, I am recused with respect to production of DOJ documents and with respect to...

WATERS: OK. So you're recused and you can't talk about whether or not you believe that this committee should have unredacted copies of documents that we have been trying to get that are pertinent to these firings. You're recused from that. You have no opinion about whether or not the oversight committee of Congress should have those documents. You did not look at the files of the people who have been in the news for weeks now where you have been accused, your department, of politically motivated firings, you don't know whether they were good employees, they were bad employees, whether or not they'd been reprimanded, suspended, advised or anything. You know nothing, is that correct?

GONZALES: That is not correct.

WATERS: What do you know, Mr. Attorney General?

GONZALES: Well, generally about this whole matter, Congresswoman?

WATERS: What would you like to tell us? You're here today, and you know what we're focused on.


WATERS: This is no secret. I know that you've been in a number of hearings. I know that you don't remember a lot. You have not shared with us anything about the documents. What can you tell us today that will help us to understand why eight U.S. attorneys were fired, an unusual pattern that CRS has reviewed and told us that there's a pattern here and it doesn't look good? Your reputation is on the line, Mr. Attorney General. What do you have to say for yourself?

GONZALES: Congresswoman, what I have to say is that we have provided a lot of information to the Congress about this issue...

WATERS: I asked you specifically about unredacted copies that are pertinent to this investigation.

GONZALES: Again, Congressman, I'm not involved in making decisions about the documents to be provided or not provided by the department...

CONYERS: Let's allow the attorney general to finish his response to this question.

GONZALES: Yes. With respect to redacted documents, it's my understanding -- and again, I haven't been involved. But it's my understanding that the Congress has had access to the documents. They've been able to see what's been redacted, it's my understanding. But, again, those are decisions that are not being made by me in order to preserve the integrity of this investigation, because I'm a fact witness.

WATERS: No, you're more than a fact witness, Mr. Attorney General. The buck stops at the top.

GONZALES: And I accept responsibility...

WATERS: If you accept...

CONYERS: The gentlelady's time has expired.

WATERS: I will yield back the balance of my time.

Thank you.

CONYERS: Thank you. Steve King of Iowa?

KING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank the attorney general for being before this committee and submitting yourself to this process. And I think it needs to be a dignified process.

KING: And I think we need to respect you and the answers that you give. I believe that you're giving openly and honest answers here before the committee. I would reflect back on some issues that were raised, particularly by the gentlelady from California, with regard to -- and I'm not going to characterize how she characterized it, because I don't want to repeat some of the language that went into this record and have it taken down, but the behaviors and the activities of the attorney generals -- U.S. attorney's office, in that area. Then the issue is raised by the gentleman from Wisconsin, Mr. Sensenbrenner, about the investigation of a member of Congress and how that might affect the activities on the part of your office. And so I can't help but reflect upon a 500-page report that was delivered to the Department of Justice regarding another member of Congress. And that investigation has been going on since December of 2005. And that issue is still pending any kind of resolution. And I believe that the Ethics Committee in this Congress is awaiting the results of the investigation. But the question I would ask to you is, if the chairman of the Justice Appropriations Committee happened to have had been under that kind of scrutiny, could that affect the kind of prosecution that takes place out of your Justice Department with regard to that particular member of Congress?

GONZALES: I would like to say no, quite frankly, I think, because you have to understand that prosecutions, by and large, are handled, and the investigations and prosecutions are handled, by career officials. They go forward no matter what happens. We want them to do that. I've told every United States attorney to, "Tell your people, I don't want anything affected, whatsoever, by anything going on Washington. I don't care who the target is, Republican, Democrat, member of -- someone on the Hill, someone at the White House. You follow the evidence; you do your job. That's what the American people expect, and that's what I expect and demand."

KING: And, Mr. Attorney General, you know, aside from the president of the United States, what could be more intimidating to the Department of Justice than to be involved in an investigation of the chairman of an Appropriations Committee that had control directly of your budget?

KING: What could be more intimidating than that with regard to an investigation?

GONZALES: We have to put that aside. Again, if the evidence is there, we have an obligation to pursue it. And if it's not there, then we stop the investigation. But, clearly, this comes with being a prosecutor. Sometimes it's going to put you in a very awkward, difficult situation. But the American people expect you to do your job, and that's what I expect of the prosecutors in the Department of Justice.

KING: Let me say then, Mr. Attorney General, that if that kind of circumstance -- if the person that's in control of your budget has his activities being reviewed by your department -- it's very well- published across this country and not well-known in this Hill -- if that does not affect your investigation and your integrity has risen about that kind of intimidation, then how in the world can any of these other allegations be intimidating the investigation of the Justice Department?

GONZALES: Well, again, without commenting on a particular investigation, we have a job to do that the American people expect we're going to do it.

KING: And I would submit to this committee that what I've stated here is entirely true: that there is nothing more intimidating than the scenario that I've laid out here, and this scenario happens to be fact. All the rest of these things that unfold are minor in comparison to this looming issue that's here. And if this Justice Department can be considered to be conducting themselves above reproach with this investigation -- and I don't have any reason to believe they're not and I want to put that on the record -- then the rest of these allegations are essentially baseless. And I would also submit that in my experience into the 11th year of the legislation process that I've been involved in, there has been nothing that has seen more opposition from a partisan political standpoint than trying to provide integrity into the electoral process.

And those investigations that were going on in the southwestern part of this United States which were part of a decision, I believe, that was made by your department to dismiss an attorney general down -- or excuse me, dismiss a U.S. attorney down in that area, I think were met with political opposition on the other side. And if we're going to investigate this, then I'd be looking at some of the FBI officers that were doing the investigations in those kind of cases.

KING: And I'd ask if you'd care to comment on that, Mr. Attorney General.

GONZALES: No, sir.

KING: I didn't think you would.

I want to conclude then by saying thank you for being here and thank you for this testimony. And I hope that we can raise the level of this decorum and respect your testimony in an appropriate fashion. I appreciate your service to America. I yield back.

CONYERS: I thank the gentleman. And we now turn to Mr. William Delahunt, the gentleman from Massachusetts, who is now recognized.

DELAHUNT: General Gonzales, we've heard about delegation and the size of the department. And I think we all understand that, and, obviously, the need to delegate powers and authorities. But there are some powers and authorities that you cannot delegate. And you've been an ardent advocate for the Patriot Act.


DELAHUNT: You support it, you've come here and you've testified, correct?

GONZALES: That is correct, sir.

DELAHUNT: And you have the power to review information regarding organizations and an individual to determine whether they are terrorists. And you have the power to detain those individuals. Is that correct?

GONZALES: Depending on, of course -- always relying upon the recommendations, the analysis and views of...

DELAHUNT: I understand that. But you can delegate that decision-making process to the deputy attorney general, but you can't delegate it to a U.S. attorney or anyone else. In the end, that's your decision to make, correct?

GONZALES: And, of course, I'm head of the department and in the end I'm responsible for...

DELAHUNT: I understand.


DELAHUNT: Well, back in March of 2005 an individual by the name of Luis Posada Carriles entered this country illegally. He has had a long and rather dramatic history of violence and in fact has been convicted of acts of terrorism in other countries.

The most famous charge, of course -- and this is referenced in a series of FBI documents that are now in the public domain -- is that he was implicated in the midair bombing of a Cuban airliner, resulting in the deaths of some 73 civilians.

I'm sure you're familiar with that.

GONZALES: I'm familiar with the news stories, yes, sir.

DELAHUNT: Well, let me ask you this: Have you reviewed this particular case?

GONZALES: I'm aware of this case.

DELAHUNT: And have you made at any point in time an assessment of whether this individual should be designated as a terrorist and detained?

GONZALES: What I can say, Congressman, is that, of course, I'm concerned about what I know. And we've taken steps in the courts to try...

DELAHUNT: I understand you've taken steps in courts, but I'd appreciate a direct answer.

GONZALES: What's the question?

DELAHUNT: Why have you not taken steps to designate Luis Posada Carriles as a testimony -- rather, as a terrorist, given the overwhelming information that exists in the public domain today?

GONZALES: Congressman, what I'd like to do is go back and look at this case so I can give you an answer. I want to be -- I want to be totally accurate with you with respect to...

DELAHUNT: I understand. But this is your responsibility...

GONZALES: And I want to be careful about what I can say publicly. And so, again...

DELAHUNT: Well, I understand you have to careful. But at the same time, have you undertaken a review of this case, given the law authorizing you...

GONZALES: I'm aware of the circumstances of this case. But I'm also aware that there are still on -- think -- matters and actions ongoing within the department that have not been completed. And I don't want to say anything that would in any way jeopardize that.

DELAHUNT: Well, what we have now, given the decision that was rendered this past week, is we have Mr. Posada Carriles a free man in this country. You're familiar with that.

GONZALES: I'm aware of the judge's decision. We obviously disagree. We're making estimates about what to do.

DELAHUNT: Well, let me reclaim my time, and let me read a finding of the court that I find particularly disturbing, and I would be interested in your response. "In addition" -- this is the judge, now -- "In addition to engaging in fraud, deceit and trickery, this court finds that the government's tactics in this case are so grossly shocking and so outrageous, to violate the universal sense of justice. As a result, this court is left with no choice but to dismiss this indictment."

Now, in my previous life, I also was a prosecutor. I have never in my 22 years as a prosecutor read that kind of language coming from a court.

GONZALES: May I just say that I respectfully disagree with the judge? And because this is a matter that's still pending, I'm not going to otherwise comment on her comments.


Well, let me go back again to the earlier question that I posed, that the designation by yourself of Luis Posada Carriles as a terrorist does not require, under the Patriot Act, an act which you have supported and this administration has advocated for -- does not require any judicial review.

Is that a fair statement?

GONZALES: I think that is a fair statement, Congressman.

But, again, with respect to your specific question as to why hasn't this happened, I need more information. I'd be happy to hopefully get back...

DELAHUNT: With all due respect, Mr. Attorney General, as my colleague from California said, the buck stops with you on this one.

GONZALES: I understand.

DELAHUNT: This is not susceptible to being delegated anywhere else. And I would hope you would take a look -- a hard look, now.

Let me ask you this...

CONYERS: The time of the gentleman has expired, regretfully.

Darrell Issa, the gentleman from California, is recognized.

ISSA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And, General Gonzales, it goes without saying, and I'm sure you're well aware of it at this point, that I've been a critic of the former U.S. attorney in San Diego, Carol Lam, who was terminated.

And I was a critic not because she wasn't a fine prosecutor, as a matter of fact, not because she didn't take on big cases; she did that, but because of the exclusion of any reasonable prosecution of coyotes, people who traffick illegally in human beings, people who, very well, would bring terrorists into our country. And, in addition to that, I'm very aware that she failed to prosecute -- willfully failed to prosecute gun crimes in any number similar to the rest of the country or the rest of California.

Having said that -- and I'm going to ask you an off-the-cuff question -- are you aware of who Antonio Lopez was in that district?

GONZALES: Is that his full name, Congressman?

ISSA: He's got a middle name. I apologize.

GONZALES: Well, I mean, I don't...


ISSA: He trafficked 20 times and was arrested and not prosecuted by Carol Lam. On the 21st time, we sent to your predecessor a letter, signed by 19 members of Congress...

GONZALES: I'm now aware -- I recall him, yes.

ISSA: And we did so as a form of political pressure to say, "We want this type of prosecution. We believe the president stands for this. And Attorney General Ashcroft failed to take action. Carol Lam failed to take action."

ISSA: So, it's not without some special interest in this that I believe that the policies of this president were, in some cases, poorly executed by U.S. attorneys.

And I'm here today not to support your management capabilities or how much you delegated -- I think you've already apologized for not having a better management system in place. I think you've already apologized for the fact that U.S. attorneys may have, in many cases, not been through the normal process of review -- "You're not doing this; you have to do better." I think we've all read e-mails that indicate that that may not have been done very well. But I'm going to ask you the basis question, which is, if you continue to serve for 20 more months at the pleasure of the president, which I believe you will, will you, in fact, not be gun shy as a result of what happens here today? And if you have a U.S. attorney who is not implementing the stated public policies of this president, will you take any and all measures necessary to make sure they are aware and they are supportive of the stated policies of this present administration?

GONZALES: Contrary to being gun shy, this process is somewhat liberating in terms of going forward. No, believe me, I think it's clear to the American people what I expect of U.S. attorneys. We -- the president is accountable to the American people, and his priorities and policies can only be implemented through people like myself and the United States attorneys. What I need to do a better job of is making sure that I communicate with U.S. attorneys where I think that they're falling short. And if I have concerns about their performance or any thing else about what's going on in their district, we need to do a better job communicating those concerns to the United States attorneys.

ISSA: General Gonzales, I would ask that you follow up for the record with some of the steps you're going to take to provide better guidance to 93 U.S. attorneys. And I look forward to seeing those. Let me follow up with, I think, the fair balance for some of the things I've heard here today. You weren't here at the beginning of this administration as the attorney general, but you're aware of the termination of the previous U.S. attorneys at the beginning of this administration. Do you recall the number that were terminated?

GONZALES: Well, eventually all of the United States attorneys were terminated. And what was unusual about that is that normally they're staggered over a period of time. And as I recall, in connection with the previous administration, they were actually more compressed.

GONZALES: And so, the concern there is it's much more disruptive -- it's a shock -- a greater shock to the system when you do it all together at one time. But having people removed over a staggered period of time is something that has occurred before.

ISSA: So under this administration, 93 U.S. attorneys were replaced. Some quit on day one; some were asked to leave shortly thereafter; some were kept on for transition purposes. And that was done in order to do the best job you could in spite of the fact every one of them was a Democrat political appointee.

GONZALES: That is correct. And quite frankly, you know, at the beginning of an administration, we weren't prepared to immediately nominate 93 new individuals. And so, it would take a period of time. I think it's a matter of good management and judgment. It would take some time before we were prepared to do that.

ISSA: And I applaud this administration for doing it. I might note that under President Clinton, 92 out of 93 were terminated immediately. And just in the remaining time, how do you think that earlier administration's immediate termination of 92 out of 93 affected morale and capability of doing the job versus the technique that this administration employed?

GONZALES: Well, I don't want to comment on that, other than to say that we -- I think it's a better system to do it on a staggered term, quite frankly, again, because it's less of a shock to the system. We're not prepared to immediately, you know, to nominate 93 individuals. So that was the way we felt was the best way to...

ISSA: And I applaud this administration for being less partisan at the beginning of its administration, able to try to put justice ahead of partisan behavior. Thank you, Mr. General. And I yield back, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: Thank you, sir. The chair recognizes the distinguished gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Rick Boucher.

BOUCHER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I do not have questions this afternoon. But I would be pleased to yield the five minutes allotted to me to you, Mr. Chairman, if you have questions.

CONYERS: I thank the gentleman. Attorney General Gonzales, let me follow up on a question that has occurred here. Since the date of the firings on December 7, 2006, have you discussed this matter with President Bush?

GONZALES: What I can say is we've had a few discussions, generally, where he has encouraged me -- given me words of encouragement. But not as to substance.

CONYERS: So there has been some discussion, is that fair to say?

GONZALES: I would -- yes, there has been some -- but, again, primarily, Mr. Chairman, where the president has given me words of encouragement.

CONYERS: Now, you've already indicated that you talked to Mr. Karl Rove about the voter fraud matter in New Mexico in October of 2006.

GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, I'm not sure that I said it was in October. I think it was in the fall of 2006.

CONYERS: All right. Do you have information on whether Karl Rove or any other White House staff member helped get Mr. Iglesias on the termination list, either through Ms. Goodling, who was liaison to the White House, or anyone else that might be White House-like liaison?

GONZALES: I have no personal knowledge, Mr. Chairman. I don't recall now, thinking back, whether or not there's anything in the documents. I'm not sure that I have any personal knowledge outside the documents.

CONYERS: If you review that, we'll be sending you further inquiries about all the matters here. I wish you'd take a close look at that.

GONZALES: Of course, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: All right.

Now, we have already learned that Karl Rove has been contacted by prominent New Mexico Republicans to try to remove Mr. Iglesias as the U.S. attorney because of concerns about the voter fraud matter.

Mr. Rove talks to you about the voter fraud matter in New Mexico in the fall. Right?

GONZALES: That is my recollection -- not just New Mexico, but also, as I recall, Philadelphia as well.

CONYERS: A couple other places. All right. And Mr. Iglesias appears on the termination list in October or November...

GONZALES: I believe it was Election Day, November.

CONYERS: It was November. Thank you. Well, now, if we start following these bread crumbs, it suggests that there could have been some connection between the discussions between yourself and Mr. Rove and Mr. Iglesias hitting the door, as an ex-employee.

GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, you have more bread crumbs than I do, quite frankly, because you've had the opportunity to speak directly to other fact witnesses at the Department of Justice. I was not surprised to see Mr. Iglesias recommended to me, based upon previous conversations that I'd had with Senator Domenici.

CONYERS: Well, you may have yet more bread crumbs than I, sir, because you were the one that talked to Karl Rove. That's a pretty big bread crumb.

GONZALES: I have a lot of conversations with Mr. Rove, Mr. Chairman. I have no recollection that Mr. Rove ever recommended that Mr. Iglesias be terminated. Again, what he was conveying to me were concerns that had been raised with him with respect to voter fraud prosecutions in these three jurisdictions.

CONYERS: Well, keep searching your memory on this, because this has taken on quite a bit of significance and importance, as you can understand.

GONZALES: I will continue searching my memory, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: Thank you. Mr. Randy Forbes, please. Virginia.

FORBES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And, Mr. Attorney General, thank you for your patience in being here today. It's sometime interesting to me, because I've seen hundreds and thousands of press releases going out, attacking you. We've had all kinds of hearings like this. We had a little demonstrations out there. And then members of this committee will get up and question you about why people might have some questions about your credibility and your ability to lead in the country, even after seeing all of that generated against you.

FORBES: Second thing is, it was interesting to me earlier on, when Ms. Sanchez was asking questions, she made this statement. She says her words get turned around by this committee. And if we would turn around the words of a member of this committee, heaven only knows what we might do with some of our witnesses. And then it was interesting because within five minutes of her statement there was a big inconsistency as to what she said just five minutes before. And sometimes we're asking you to remember things that you might have said or conversations that you had months before. But I was real interested with the line of questioning that my good friend from California asked, and I'd just like to ask you this again. The total number of employees that you have under your...


GONZALES: Within the department about 110,000 people.

FORBES: How much?

GONZALES: One hundred and ten thousand.

FORBES: And of those, how many attorneys?

GONZALES: Ten thousand to 15,000.

FORBES: Ten thousand to 15,000.

And one of the things that we had recently, we had a hearing in New Orleans about some of the crime activity that was down there. We found out a staggering statistic: that the state attorney down there, that there was apparently only 7 percent of the individuals that were arrested ended up going to jail.

And if we found that statistic and we found that we had had a president who was elected to go after crime and anybody on this committee contacted you and said, "We just think that 7 percent of the individuals arrested would not be satisfactory," would that be an appropriate thing for us to raise to you?

GONZALES: Oh, no question about it.

FORBES: And if you had such an attorney like that, would it be an appropriate thing for you to tell him if that didn't change, that he may be removed, even if he was a good attorney and a competent attorney?

GONZALES: Of course.

FORBES: And what we did also find out in that same hearing that we had down in New Orleans was that the people under charge, the U.S. attorney down there was actually having between 93.5 and 99 percent conviction rates.

FORBES: So they had done a good job.

But if you hadn't have taken those steps, we'd have you before us and we'd be asking you those questions why. So we want to compliment you for that job.

The other thing is, some of us are concerned about what we see with gangs across the country, and the rise in gangs. And if you sat down and made policy decisions that you wanted to have U.S. attorneys go after networks of gangs, as opposed to just waiting until individual gang crimes took place, would that be a fair thing for any member of this committee to raise to you and say, we think your U.S. attorneys need to be doing that?

GONZALES: I'd be very interested in hearing your views about gangs. It's a serious issue in our country. And I think we ought to be -- and we are focused on it.

FORBES: And you are. And if your U.S. attorneys were not, would that be appropriate thing for you -- even if they were competent attorneys and good attorneys. But if they weren't going after gangs in the direction that you felt appropriate, from an administrative point of view, would that be reason to make a change in that U.S. attorney's office?

GONZALES: If the U.S. attorney -- now, of course, we would endeavor to find out, OK, what are the reasons why? We ought to have a conversation with that U.S. attorney. And the reasons aren't legitimate, of course it would be appropriate.

FORBES: And if you didn't, we'd bring you back for a hearing and we would be criticizing you for that. One of the other big things that many of us have been concerned about is pornography and child pornography, and especially pornography on that Internet. If you had U.S. attorneys that weren't going after that in the manner that you felt appropriate -- that some of us felt appropriate -- and that wasn't getting prosecuted, would it be appropriate for us to raise those issues with you?

GONZALES: Well, I'd be interested in hearing your views about that.

FORBES: And if we did, and you felt those U.S. attorneys -- even if they were competent -- were not prosecuting those obscenity cases in the manner that you felt they needed to be prosecuted, would that be reason for you to be able to remove those U.S. attorneys?

GONZALES: It would be. I'd give the same answer. You know, in hindsight looking back, I'd like to try to find out the reasons why. And the reasons -- if there aren't good reasons, then I think...

FORBES: Even if they were a competent attorney, if they weren't moving in that direction. The other big thing -- and you've testified before us, correctly so -- that our number one espionage problem in this country was with China. And if we had U.S. attorneys that weren't prosecuting that in what we felt was an appropriate manner, would that be appropriate for us to raise that kind of issue with you?

GONZALES: I'd be -- always be interested in hearing about the concerns and views of Congress.

FORBES: And if they didn't modify that and they weren't going after those espionage cases, would that be a reason for you then to make a change with the U.S. attorney's office?


FORBES: Now, the other concern that I have, quite honestly, is -- you've been very patient in being here with us today. You've got a lot of your staff members there. How are these investigations impacting your ability and the office's ability to go after some of these other concerns that we have -- whether it's child pornography, gangs, China espionage. It's taking a lot of your time. How are you balancing those?

GONZALES: Well, I have to balance it. Because obviously, this has raised some issues, some concerns of Congress. I have an obligation to try to reassure Congress that nothing improper happened here. But on the other hand, I also have an obligation to the American people. They expect me to continue to make sure this country's safe from terrorism, that our neighborhoods are safe and our kids are safe.

GONZALES: And so, we've got to somehow make that work. I'm not going to say that it hasn't been -- this hasn't been somewhat of a distraction. But I think the department has remained focused on doing the job the American people expect.

FORBES: Thank you, Mr. Attorney General.

CONYERS: The chair recognizes the distinguished chairman of the Intellectual and Property Rights Committee, Howard Berman.

BERMAN: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Attorney General, I just thought I'd make one brief comment and then yield my time to my colleague from California. I only know one of the U.S. attorneys that was asked to resign, the gentleman from Washington, Mr. McKay. And I got to know him because he was an appointee of President Bush's father to the Legal Services Corporation. I believe that when I hear what appeared to me to be the flimsiest of reasons given to justify the decision to ask him to resign, and put that in the context of the statements of the deputy attorney general under your predecessor or under you, Mr. Comey, regarding his performance in that job, I believe the Justice Department comments about this gentleman's qualities and his performance do a discredit to you, unless they're rebutted by you. Because my firm belief, as confirmed by Deputy Attorney General Comey, is that this was an excellent public servant, one of the best you had, performing at a quality that every American should be proud of. And with those comments, I yield to the gentlelady, Ms. Sanchez.

SANCHEZ: I thank the gentleman for yielding. Mr. Gonzales, I'd like to pick up on a new line of questioning here. We've had several people come and be interviewed by the committee and also come to present their testimony in hearings. And in his written responses to questions from the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, Daniel Bogden mentioned that he had a conversation with Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty regarding his termination in which Mr. McNulty told him that the decision had come from "higher up." To whom would Mr. McNulty, as deputy attorney general, have been referring?

GONZALES: Well, the decision was clearly -- clearly mine, Congresswoman. It was my decision. I'm accountable, and I accept responsibility for these decisions.

SANCHEZ: OK. And in his written responses to questions from the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, Mr. Bogden noted that Mr. McNulty told him that he had, quote, "limited input," end quote, in the final decision process to terminate the U.S. attorneys. Did you understand that the deputy attorney general had only, quote/unquote, "limited input"? Is that your understanding?

GONZALES: It was my understanding or belief that Mr. Sampson was consulting with the senior leadership, including and in particular, the deputy attorney general, because the deputy attorney general is the direct report for these U.S. attorneys, including Mr. Bogden.

GONZALES: But at the end of the day, no matter the level of consultation, what I know is that Mr. McNulty, the deputy attorney general, signed off on these names. And, in fact, on the day of Mr. Sampson's testimony, I went to the deputy attorney general, I said, "Do you still stand behind these recommendations?" And he told me, "Yes," and that, to me, is the most important thing.

SANCHEZ: OK, well, then who, to you knowledge -- if the deputy attorney general had only limited input, and that doesn't seem to trouble you -- who, to you knowledge had more than merely limited input in the final decision process?

GONZALES: Well, again...

SANCHEZ: I mean, was that your -- was that on your shoulders? Was that you?

GONZALES: Again, Congresswoman, you probably have more information about that than I. What I...

SANCHEZ: I'm asking for what you know.

GONZALES: OK, what I understood -- and I only know from -- I haven't spoken with Mr. Sampson, I haven't spoken with others except the conversation that I just relayed to you with respect to the deputy attorney general. So I haven't spoken with others within the department and asked them, "OK, did you consult on this? How do you feel about this, these other witnesses?" Because we're all fact witnesses, I didn't want to interfere in this investigation.

SANCHEZ: OK, so you don't know who had more than merely limited input in the firing decisions?

GONZALES: It would be difficult for me to characterize the involvement...

SANCHEZ: All right, I'll accept that answer. In its written responses to a question from the subcommittee on Commercial Administrative Law, Mr. Bogden mentioned that Acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer explained to him "that the administration had a short, two-year window of opportunity to place an individual into his U.S. attorney position in order to enhance that individual's resume for either future political or federal bench positions." Do you believe that the Office of the U.S. Attorney is merely a vehicle through which to provide party loyalists with an opportunity to pad their resume and then use that as a launching pad for elective office or a judgeship?

GONZALES: As head of the department, I would say no, but there would be nothing improper in doing so. Again, these are...

SANCHEZ: Do you think it's a good practice? I mean...


GONZALES: As head of the department, I would say...

SANCHEZ: ... improper but...

GONZALES: ... I would care about making sure that we have good people in these positions, people that could discharge their responsibilities.

GONZALES: And, again, let me -- for the American people to understand, you know, the success of the office does not live or die based upon the U.S. attorney. It depends on the career individuals that are there. Obviously, the U.S. attorney provides direction, helps with morale. But I just want to make sure people understand that if there's a change at the top, the work of the department continues.

SANCHEZ: But just for clarification, it wouldn't bother you if they used it as a vehicle with which to...

GONZALES: No, I didn't say that it wouldn't bother me. What I'm saying is...

SANCHEZ: Would that trouble you, then?

GONZALES: Well, again, it would depend on the person coming in. I'd want to make sure we have someone that could do a good job as a U.S. attorney.

And so, yes, that would...

CONYERS: Time has expired. Please finish your comment.

SANCHEZ: I thank the gentleman. And I yield back.

CONYERS: The chair recognizes the distinguished gentleman from Indiana, Mike Pence.

PENCE: Thank you, Chairman. And, General Gonzales, welcome to the committee. I am very grateful for your service to the country.

GONZALES: Thank you.

PENCE: And I especially want to take this opportunity to congratulate you and the Justice Department on the interdiction of six suspects earlier this week, apprehended in connection with a planned terrorist attack on Fort Dix. You have mentioned several times through your testimony about the primary focus of your position being protecting people of the United States. And I am grateful for that specific example. I also want to thank you for the admissions and the candor and the humility that you've reflected today. It seems to me there is an overarching principle here, that the president has the authority to be served by whomever he pleases in his administration -- and, frankly, that he's able -- it isn't often repeated, so I'll try and repeat it.

PENCE: He's able to dismiss officials for any reason or for no reason at all. But he is not liberty, in fairness to all my colleagues, he is not at liberty to dismiss persons for wrong reasons. And it seems to me, your testimony today reiterates the point that, while there were administrative errors that you have been candid about, that at present, I, as a public servant, have not seen evidence of wrongdoing. And I appreciate you making that distinction again in this public forum, repeatedly. And I think it gets a little bit lost in the public debate here, the distinction between errors and wrongdoing. There may be consensus that errors were made, and a consensus that you share, but I have not seen evidence of wrongdoing or wrong motives in connection with these terminations. But I appreciate the willingness of the department to cooperate so thoroughly in providing documents and facilitating witnesses before the committee. You made a comment in your opening statement, that I found provocative, on another topic. You said that it was part of the mission of the Justice Department to, quote, "preserve the public integrity of our public institutions." And I wanted to call to your attention a legislation that my colleague, Congressman Rick Boucher and I, with the original co- sponsorship of a number of distinguished colleagues, including the chairman of this committee, that I think supports that same objective, of pursuing and promoting public integrity and public institutions. It's called the Free Flow of Information Act. We've talked about it very briefly in the past. A "federal media shield" is how it's referred to euphemistically. And while I believe it is among the principal objectives of the Justice Department to hold public people accountable and public institutions, I also believe that our founders intended that a free and independent press was actually the chief safeguard to public integrity.

PENCE: And, in fact, as a conservative, I believe that the only check on government power in real time is a free and independent press. And there has been a progeny of cases over the last 15 years and in successive administrations, particularly in independent counsel investigations, it seems to me, where there has been a rising tide of instances where reporters have faced threat of subpoena in federal cases and, of course, in some cases reporters have been jailed or threatened with jail time to reveal confidential sources. The sponsors of this legislation, which I hasten to add also include a senior member of this committee, Mr. Howard Coble, we really believe that compelling reporters to testify and compelling reporters to reveal the identity of their confidential sources intrudes on the news gathering process but, more importantly, hurts the public interest. I would say the Free Flow of Information Act, General, is not about protecting reporters, it's about protecting the public's right to know. I just wanted to gain your assurance, without asking you to comment in any significant way at this hearing, that as we have made this -- move this legislation through various incarnations over the last two years. We've added more qualifications for national security, for trade secrets, for imminent threat of bodily harm. I would just like to have your assurance and that of your capable staff that as this legislation, I think moves through this committee in the months ahead, that your department -- and particularly the Criminal Division -- would work with us to find some way to put a stitch in this tear in the First Amendment and would welcome your comments, but again, would not ask for you to comment substantively on legislation that you may or may not have yet reviewed.

GONZALES: There is no administration position on the legislation, as I recall -- as I understand -- as I recall. We have in the past opposed similar legislation, Congressman. GONZALES: I don't know -- I haven't been convinced of the need for it, quite frankly. The department has only issued, I think, 19 media subpoenas for confidential sources since 1991. We have a very strong process in place that's been in place for 30 years with respect to how these get approved. I ultimately have to approve such a subpoena, and so we've been concerned in the past about the definitions, the broad scope, and perhaps that's something that could be dealt with through changes in the legislation. You have my commitment. I'd be happy to work with you, so I'll just leave it at that.

PENCE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Chairman.

CONYERS: You're welcome. Mr. Robert Wexler, the gentleman from Florida.

WEXLER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. With your permission, Mr. Attorney General, I would like to follow the chairman's questions regarding Mr. Iglesias. If I understand it correctly, you testified that Karl Rove talked to you about voter fraud in New Mexico in fall, 2006.

GONZALES: Yes, New Mexico and two other jurisdictions. That's correct.

WEXLER: Mr. Iglesias is selected for the termination list in early November, 2006?

GONZALES: I think on Election Day -- well, I don't remember when he was selected. I wasn't involved in that process.

WEXLER: Right, it appears on the list.

GONZALES: Looking at the documents, it appears he first appears on the list on Election Day.

WEXLER: And it's your testimony you did not select him to put -- you did not select Mr. Iglesias to be put on the list, correct?

GONZALES: His name was brought forward to me, recommended along with others.

WEXLER: Right. You did not select him? Did Mr. Sampson select him?

GONZALES: Mr. Sampson was charged with coordinating this effort.

WEXLER: He didn't select him?

GONZALES: I have not spoken with Mr. Sampson about this.

WEXLER: Right. Did former Deputy Attorney General Mr. Comey, did he select them?

GONZALES: Of course, he wasn't in the department at that time, so...

WEXLER: So he didn't select them.

GONZALES: ... I don't think he selected them.

WEXLER: That's right. Did Mr. McNulty select them?

GONZALES: I haven't spoken -- I haven't asked that question to Mr. McNulty.

WEXLER: Mr. McNulty told us he didn't select them.

Did Mr. Margolis select them?

GONZALES: Again, I haven't spoken with Mr. Margolis.

WEXLER: He didn't select them. We've talked a lot about the president's authority to have who he wants where. Did the president select Mr. Iglesias to be put on the termination list?


WEXLER: No, the president didn't select him.

Did the vice president select him to put him, Mr. Iglesias, on the termination list?


WEXLER: No. OK. So the president didn't, the vice president didn't, you, the attorney general, didn't. All of the assistant and former deputy attorney generals didn't put Mr. Iglesias on the termination list. So who did?

GONZALES: Well, what's important, Congressman, is that there was a consensus recommendation made to me. How he got on the list was less...

WEXLER: So a group of people put him on the list?

GONZALES: What's less important is that I accepted a recommendation and I made the decision. I accept responsibility for the decision.

WEXLER: No, no, you made a decision, according to yourself, as to accepting the termination list. But you've also said you didn't put him on the list. So somebody else, other than you, other than the president, other than the vice president, other than every deputy attorney general that's come to this committee, put him on the list.

But with all due respect, Mr. Attorney General, you won't tell the American people who put Mr. Iglesias on the list to be fired. It's a national secret, isn't it?

GONZALES: Congressman, if I knew the answer to that question I would provide you the answer. I have not spoken with the individuals involved...

WEXLER: So you don't know who put it on the list, Mr. Iglesias. Why was Mr. Iglesias put on the list by this mystery person?

GONZALES: Well, again, I wasn't surprised to see Mr. Iglesias' name recommended to me based upon conversations that I had had with the senior senator from New Mexico. He had lost confidence in Mr. Iglesias.

Let me just say, Mr. Iglesias' story is a great one, it's the American dream, and there are many good things about his performance, and I very much admire him as a person.

WEXLER: But you won't tell the American people who put him on a list to terminate his employment.

GONZALES: I accept responsibility for...

WEXLER: You accept responsibility for making the decision ultimately to accept the termination list, but you will not come forth and tell the American people who put Mr. Iglesias on the list to be fired.

GONZALES: Out of respect for the integrity of this investigation and the investigations occurring at the Department of Justice, I have not made that inquiry with respect to other fact witnesses.

WEXLER: But you were OK with firing them, but you won't tell us who made the recommendation to fire them.

GONZALES: I think I was justified in relying upon the senior leadership in the department -- as I understand...

WEXLER: Do you know what Mr. Moschella told this committee about why Mr. Iglesias was put on the list? He said the rationale was because he was an absentee landlord.

Are you familiar with that?

GONZALES: I'm familiar with Mr. Moschella's public testimony.

WEXLER: Right. He delegated authority, apparently -- Mr. Iglesias.

GONZALES: Well, let me just say this: I did not make the decision with respect to Mr. Iglesias...

WEXLER: I know. You haven't made any decision...


WEXLER: You have been very clear about that.

GONZALES: I accept full responsibility for this.

WEXLER: But you won't tell us who put Mr. Iglesias on that list?

GONZALES: You would have a better opportunity to access...

WEXLER: I would.

GONZALES: The committee would, the Congress.

WEXLER: Are you the attorney general? Do you run the Department of Justice?

GONZALES: Yes, I do. And it has been frustrating to me to not be able to ask these kinds of questions. But I want to respect the integrity of this investigation, and the investigations going on within the department.

If we all came up here, and had the same...

WEXLER: What time -- when did the investigation in the department start?

GONZALES: If we all came up here...

WEXLER: It started after they were fired.

GONZALES: ... six of us, and had the same testimony about events that occurred over two years, you would look at that with great suspicion. You would wonder...

WEXLER: Sir...

GONZALES: ... have you guys talked to each other about facts?

WEXLER: Sir, you know...


WEXLER: You know them, and it has nothing to do with an investigation that's occurring after these people were fired. Because you know the answer before they were fired, because you know who put them on the list but you won't tell us.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: Mr. Tom Feeney of Florida is now recognized.

FEENEY: Well, it's always fun to follow my passionate Florida colleague.

FEENEY: Mr. Attorney General, thank you for being here today. And my colleague asked some questions that deserve answers, especially given the confusion. You've admitted botched P.R., botched administrative procedures. But are the questions that my friend from South Florida just asked -- are they the very questions that the Justice Departments' Office of Professional Responsibility, along with the department's Office of Inspector General, is asking as we speak?

GONZALES: That's certainly my understanding. I mean, we've asked them to look into the allegations of any wrongdoing. If in fact there were management missteps, you know, what were they and what, you know, recommendations about what we can do better going forward?

FEENEY: And you're not interfering with that investigation in any way?

GONZALES: I have recused myself from those investigations...


... again, because I don't want there to be any kind of appearance of impropriety, of improper influence. And so I have recused myself from oversight of those investigations.

FEENEY: Now, the suggestion is, you ought to be micromanaging and involved in all those details. But my guess is you'd probably get some criticism if you were...

GONZALES: I would be criticized if in fact I was doing such a thing...

FEENEY: Well...

GONZALES: ... I suspect.

FEENEY: Well, one way or the other, it's welcome to public life. We've spent extraordinary time asking the same questions of you and many other witnesses. I think they are important questions, and I think that we will all be expecting answers. It's important to ask these questions, but it's not important to ask the same questions to the same people ad infinitum. But I'll do one more and then we'll move on to some important things that the department is doing. Are you aware of any evidence whatever that might tend to demonstrate that people were asked to resign specifically in order to interfere with ongoing investigations for partisan purposes?

GONZALES: Well, we can say "might tend to demonstrate" -- those are words that make me uncomfortable.


What I can say is, I know that's not the reason why I accepted the recommendations. And I'm not aware, based upon my review of the documents, based upon the testimony that I have seen, the public testimony, that people were motivated and coming forward with recommendations for improper, for partisan political reasons.

FEENEY: There are an awful lot of critical tests that your agency is asked to deal with. I think, first, among equals, personally, in the environment we live in, of counterintelligence and especially and counterterrorism, I'd like to know roughly what portion of your personnel and resources, in today's environment, is dedicated to making sure we don't have an attack on Fort Dix or anywhere else in this country, by investigating through counterintelligence and counterterror operations. Roughly, what portion of the...

GONZALES: I don't know if I can break it down in terms of assets or resources. I've made it clear that it's the number one priority for the Department of Justice. And it's clearly the number one priority for the director of the FBI. And I know -- I want to thank Congress for the resources that have been provided to, in particular, the FBI to ensure that this country is safer.

FEENEY: Well, and historically -- by the way, there's a great book, if you haven't read it, that Justice Rehnquist wrote back in 1989, I believe, before major terror attacks, talking about the balance between civil liberties -- which is very important to me -- called "All the Laws But One," quoting Lincoln in his famous -- civil liberties as opposed to the security needs. And following up on that theme -- and that balance tends to change based on the perceived and the real threat. Following up on that, I have to tell you, Attorney General, that I was one that has been a strong advocate of the Patriot Act and some of the other resources and powers that you alluded to in your last response. And so I was very discouraged when we found that there were thousands of mistakes and errors made. I will note that the inspector general's report determined that there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing by the FBI. But I think we could say that there was some very sloppy work done in complying with the NSL authority. I'd like to know, just very briefly, what the new, recently developed guidelines for the FBI regarding its NSL authority are? Can you describe some of the major differences in about a minute...

GONZALES: Well, our work there is not complete. I think -- the director's thinking seriously about having a compliance and audit unit to go back in and ensure that people are doing their jobs. We're looking at the whole question of the role of lawyers, quite frankly, in connection with this issue, whether or not there should be -- should there continue to be a direct report to the special agents in charge. Or maybe it should be the direct report to the general counsel. We're looking at a new computer system to have better accountability in terms of the number of NSLs. We need to do a better job with respect to our reporting to Congress.

GONZALES: I know that the director has required additional training, better education about the use of NSLs But more fundamentally, the Inspections Division has gone back in to try to get a better feel about are there additional problems with respect in particular to exigent letters. The I.G. has gone back in to do additional looks. And the National Security Division and our privacy officer is watching carefully about what's going on. I've asked the inspector general of the department to come back now, I think in two months, and give me a report about how the FBI is doing. I take this very seriously...

FEENEY: We'll get a report when that's concluded?

GONZALES: We'll provide you the information as we learn about it.

FEENEY: Thank you. And I yield back the balance of my time.

CONYERS: I thank the gentleman for his inquiry. The chair recognize Steve Cohen from Tennessee.

COHEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Attorney General, I want to follow up a little bit on Congressman Wexler's questions. You said you don't know who put Mr. Iglesias on the list. Is that correct?

GONZALES: That is correct.

COHEN: But you said you knew the president and the vice president didn't. How do you know they didn't?

GONZALES: Well, I just know that they would not do that.

COHEN: Do you think Mr. Nulty or Mr. Sampson would have done it? Obviously, you think they could have done it.

GONZALES: Of course. Look, I didn't envision the president of the United States and the vice president being involved in this process. What I...

COHEN: But you don't know for a fact that they weren't involved in the process through Ms. Miers or through Mr. Rove. You don't know that.

GONZALES: I have no -- that is correct. That is correct.


GONZALES: But I had no reason to believe that the White House -- in fact, I know the White House has said publicly they were not involved in adding or deleting people from the list. That's what the White House has said publicly.

COHEN: Right. And the White House asked you, as I understand it in your statement, you say here that Deputy Chief Kyle Sampson told you that the counsel to the president, Ms. Miers, inquired about replacing all 93 U.S. attorneys, and you both agreed that wouldn't be a good idea, it'd be disruptive and unwise. So at one point the White House wanted to replace all 93. So when they wanted to replace all 93, why do you think they wouldn't want to replace eight?

GONZALES: What I've testified also is that I don't know whether or not Ms. Miers thought this was a good idea, whether or not this was even Ms. Miers' idea. She raised this as an idea. We quickly said no...

COHEN: Did you ever talk to Ms. Miers, to Mr. Rove or to anyone else, or communicate to Ms. Miers or Mr. Rove or anyone else as to why they wanted to remove all 93 U.S. prosecutors?

GONZALES: I have no recollection of having that kind of conversation with Ms. Miers or Mr. Rove.

COHEN: And do you have any recollection of a letter to or from them?

GONZALES: I don't. But going back and looking at the documents, there was some e-mail traffic I think in late December of '04, early January of '05 about a conversation involving Mr. Rove stepping into the Counsel's Office about: What are we going to do about U.S. attorneys?

GONZALES: And then there was a subsequent e-mail back from Mr. Sampson. It's all in the record and I don't recall a conversation with Mr. Sampson during that period of time. This would have been during Christmas week, just 10 days or two weeks before my confirmation hearing and so I have no recollection of that. But I do remember, as I've gone back and looking at the documents, there was some e-mail traffic about U.S. attorneys even before -- just before I became attorney general.

COHEN: These eight individuals who were fired, one of them was Mr. Cummins. Did you inquire into why Mr. Cummins was fired?

GONZALES: Congressman, I don't -- when you asked did I inquire when, I mean, Mr. Cummins was asked...

COHEN: Why? Why? Not when, why?

GONZALES: Mr. Cummins was asked to leave in June, June 14, not December 7. He was not part of that group and he was asked to -- a change was desired by the White House because they had identified a well-qualified individual that they wanted to have as a United States attorney.

COHEN: Who was the well-qualified individual? His name hasn't surfaced yet.

GONZALES: Tim Griffin was the person...

COHEN: Oh, he was well-qualified?

GONZALES: Well, I -- he certainly had more -- well I don't want to disparage Mr. Cummins, but, yes, if you look at...

COHEN: You're not disparaging Mr. Cummins.

GONZALES: Again, if you look at his qualifications in terms of having prosecution experience, being in the JAG Corps, serving in Iraq, yes, I think he was a well-qualified individual. In fact, Mr. Cummins...

COHEN: But why was Mr. Cummins asked to leave? Because they wanted to put somebody else in?

GONZALES: Yes. It's my understanding -- I think that's a fair characterization. I might also add that...

COHEN: Then let me ask...

GONZALES: ... can I finish my answer, Congressman -- that in December, there was a newspaper article, I think The Arkansas Times, which indicated that Mr. Cummins was quoted as saying, you know, "I've got four kids, I have to pay for their college. They'll be surprised if I don't"...

COHEN: Thank you -- Mr. We've been through that.

COHEN: And Mr. Cummins said he didn't intend to resign. You at one point said, as did your deputy, that all of these resignations are firings, were performance-related. Now, obviously Mr. Cummins was not performance-related. So what you said at that point was wrong.

GONZALES: And I've clarified that in my -- I think I clarified that in my last Senate Judiciary Committee meeting. In fact, that was the reason for my anger in an e-mail that was on February 7, following the DAG's -- the deputy attorney general's testimony -- is because I had confused in my mind Mr. Cummins being asked to leave on June 14 with the others being asked to leave on December 7. And what I was thinking about in my testimony was those individuals asked to leave on December 7 related to performance -- and did not in my mind think about Mr. Cummins, who was asked to leave...

COHEN: Did you inquire as to why each of these eight individuals were asked to leave?

GONZALES: I do not recall, Congressman, the conversation that occurred when the recommendations were brought to me. I'm sure we had discussions about...

COHEN: Don't you think that when an individual who's a public official, who's out there in the public line, who's an attorney whose reputation is so important to having their license to practice law, that they're asked to resign from a position that there should be a compelling reason and that you, as their appointed official, should ask and inquire why and realize and come to a belief that there is a compelling reason for them to be determined, and not just accept some mysterious group's recommendation?

GONZALES: I think a compelling reason standard is much too high for those of us who are appointed by the president of the United States, and we serve at the pleasure of the United States. And we all understand that. We all know that by statute we only -- U.S. attorneys serve for four years. Thereafter they're holding over. These United States attorneys had served for four years. But no question about it, as a management function, yes, I think we should have done better in terms of communicating with them. We don't owe them the jobs. But I do think that we owe them better.

COHEN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: The gentleman from Florida, Rick Keller.

KELLER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And, Mr. Attorney General, I have to apologize. I had to step out for a few minutes. I was here earlier. But we are also having a hearing that I was conducting with the secretary of education, Margaret Spellings, at the same time. Mr. Attorney General, the Bush administration has about 20 months left on the clock. Tell me what your top two priorities are going to be over the next 20 months that you'd like to accomplish.

GONZALES: I'll give you three.

KELLER: Go ahead.

GONZALES: I was on the South Lawn on September 11 when President Bush arrived. And he and I both knew that then after that our world had changed, and that the priority of the law enforcement community would change. And so moving forward, my top priority will continue to be making sure that America is safe. That's the first thing. Secondly, I don't think it's possible for people to realize the American dream if they live in fear of gangs, they live in fear of drugs, they live in fear of violent crime.

GONZALES: And so that's the second thing, doing what we can to ensure that violent crime is reduced. Finally, I wear this wristband given to me by Mark Lunsford. His daughter Jessica was killed by a sex offender. And it's a reminder of my commitment and my obligation to make sure that our kids are safe. Those are the things that I'm going to be focused on.

KELLER: Thank you, Mr. Attorney General. You have been through more public scrutiny, and probably some pain, in the last month, more than most people have in a lifetime. As a prominent Cabinet member, U.S. attorney, or U.S. attorney general, you could leave today and make $1 million a year at a law firm pretty easily, but you're staying on and want to stay on. Is it because of your passion for those three things, violent crime, terrorism and getting after child predators?

GONZALES: I got into public service because I wanted to do something where I could make a difference, a positive difference in people's lives. I fundamentally, deep down, believe that I can continue to do so. If I don't think that I can be effective as attorney general, I will no longer continue to serve as attorney general. I've got confidence and faith in the people that work in this department. And I think we can continue to serve, effectively, the American people.

KELLER: Mr. Attorney General, when I'm asked at town hall meetings about what's going on with this U.S. attorney situation and you, I tell folks back home that it can all be summarized, the microcosm of this whole -- what the media calls a scandal -- in one case. And that's the case of Carol Lam. Carol Lam was a talented lady, U.S. attorney from San Diego, who had successfully prosecuted Duke Cunningham. She also is a lady who had some concerns with your department. I think she was 91 out of 93 in firearms. And I learned, from going to San Diego and talking to folks that she had failed to prosecute alien smugglers, even those who had been arrested 20 times. Now, you let her go, or told her she was going to leave in December of 2006. And immediately we heard the allegation from some in the media and some members of Congress that Carol Lam must have been fired because she prosecuted a public corruption case against Republican Duke Cunningham. Now, I went through and reviewed the documents, talked to people, including Carol Lam. And the timeline is crystal clear. The documents regarding her failure to prosecute alien smugglers, including those who had been arrested 20 times, began in Congress with -- in February of 2004 -- with Darrell Issa, which is literally 16 months before the local San Diego Union-Tribune broke the very first story about the Duke Cunningham scandal, which shows me that it is literally impossible that that was an improper motive on your part or anyone else. So, let me ask you directly, did you ask Carol Lam or any of the other U.S. attorneys to resign because they were prosecuting or investigating public corruption cases against Republicans.

GONZALES: No. In fact, I'm very, very proud of the work of the department in prosecuting public corruption cases. I don't care whether or not we're talking about Republican or Democrat. We're doing our job.

KELLER: Did anyone at the White House -- including, but not limited to the president, Karl Rove, Harriet Miers or Josh Bolten -- ever come to you and say, "We want you to fire Carol Lam" -- or any other U.S. attorney -- "because they're going after a Republican congressman"?

GONZALES: They didn't say it to me, and I'm not aware of any such direction.

KELLER: OK. Thank you, Mr. Attorney General. I will yield my remaining time to Mr. Cannon.

CANNON: I think the gentleman would like to make a couple of points here. Going back to Mr. Margolis -- who, again, is a very senior career employee -- and his view about the Griffin appointment, I should say directly or indirectly. I also, to be fair to Griffin, his resume at the time I interviewed him looked better for the job than Cummins's did when I interviewed him. Here was a guy who's not political, who's saying that Griffin was well qualified. Remember, Griffin went -- was in Iraq. He was in DOJ. He was a judge advocate general. And so we have lots of views on these issues that haven't been out here yet, which indicate that at least in the case of Cummins we have some pretty good information about why he was supplanted. I thank you, Mr. Chairman. I cede...

GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, could I make one comment? It bothers me to have to disparage individuals and to be critical openly about people who worked for the department. And I just want to make a general observation that these are all very, very fine people. And they should be proud of their service. We should all be proud of the fact that they had the courage to engage in public service. And I don't want anyone to think that I don't otherwise appreciate the fine work that they did on behalf of the department.

CONYERS: Thank you. The chair recognizes the distinguished gentleman from Georgia, Hank Johnson.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Gonzales, you've led a distinguished career as a lawyer, law school professor, partner major Houston law firm, general counsel to then-Governor George Bush, a justice on Supreme Court of Texas, White House counsel to President George Bush. And now you've ascended to the responsibility of attorney general of the United States. And in that connection, you hired as your top two aides Mr. Paul McNulty, the deputy attorney general -- over 20 years of distinguished experience on the federal and state levels, much of which was spent as a U.S. attorney. And your number two man was a associate attorney general, also close to 20 years of distinguished experience, much of which has been spent as a U.S. attorney and an assistant U.S. attorney.

JOHNSON: Both of them extensive trial experience and very well equipped to handle the tasks of their office, as you are. But instead what you have done is delegated an extraordinary amount of power to two young, inexperienced aides -- Ms. Monica Goodling and Mr. Kyle Sampson -- neither one of whom had any trial experience, neither one of whom -- I think Mr. Sampson may have tried one case in his life -- and neither one of whom had any law enforcement background whatsoever. But yet you signed on March the 1st of 2006 a secret order delegating the power to those two inexperienced aides to hire and fire major career employees of the Justice Department, including the Criminal Division, including U.S. attorneys and assistant U.S. attorneys. And you did not even inform your deputy attorney general and your associate attorney general that you had delegated that power. Can you tell us why you did that?

GONZALES: Yes. There's a lot there, Congressman. The actual decision in terms of reserving to the attorney general certain personnel decisions was actual made through regulation which became public in February. And as a result of that change in the regulations reserving the authority on certain personnel...

JOHNSON: Those were put through at your insistence, correct?


JOHNSON: You changed the rule so that you could give the power to hire and fire to Kyle Sampson and Monica Goodling.

GONZALES: We haven't gotten to that point yet.

JOHNSON: Well, I don't want you to take all my time. I just want you to answer those questions.

GONZALES: But I want to give you a complete answer, Congressman.

GONZALES: And so the change -- there was nothing secret about the change in terms of reserving to the Office of the Attorney General that kind of authority. Now...

JOHNSON: You did not let your deputy attorney general know about it, did you?

GONZALES: Well, they were ultimately told -- as I understand it, they weren't told through the executive (inaudible) process because my understanding...

JOHNSON: You said not tell your associate attorney general?

GONZALES: My understanding is that they were told of the change.

JOHNSON: You didn't tell them yourself?

GONZALES: I did not have the specific conversation with him.

JOHNSON: Well, let me ask you this question: What exactly did Monica Goodling do insofar as her job as White House liaison? What employment decisions did she make about career and noncareer personnel in the Department of Justice?

GONZALES: Well, of course, let me just say that she discharged -- her responsibility was to serve -- was to discharge the normal responsibilities for a White House for a White House liaison.

JOHNSON: Including making decisions about hiring and firing career and noncareer personnel for the Department of Justice? Correct?

GONZALES: Well, with respect to political appointees...

JOHNSON: Is that correct?

GONZALES: ... that would certainly be appropriate. Now, with respect to career...

JOHNSON: I mean, is it correct that she...

GONZALES: Was involved in?

JOHNSON: ... was involved in making hiring and firing decisions pertaining to DOJ career and noncareer personnel? Is that correct?

GONZALES: Let me just say that she was involved to political appointees and with respect to career appointees, there has been some fairly serious allegations made with respect to her role in that. And has already been made public because of the seriousness of those allegations, that matter has been referred for an investigation, so...


JOHNSON: Right, did Mr. Sampson...

GONZALES: ... I'm not going to comment.

JOHNSON: Did Mr. Sampson have the same power as well under your memorandum?


GONZALES: Mr. Sampson would have the same -- he was included as part of the delegation. You described...

JOHNSON: And did he in fact play a part in making personnel decisions about Department of Justice career and noncareer personnel?

GONZALES: Certainly with respect to non-career. I can't sit here today and tell you...


JOHNSON: OK, and were either one of them part of the team that put together the list which included the eight attorneys who were let go on December 7, 2006?

GONZALES: No question about. I had charged Mr. Sampson with organizing and coordinating the effort to gathering information and present to me recommendations. Ms. Goodling assisted Mr. Sampson in the discharge or a wide variety of responsibilities, and if you look at...

JOHNSON: And you don't know of anyone else who assisted them?

GONZALES: Well, if you look at the e-mail traffic, and from what I understand, from public testimony, obviously there were people who provided input and information.

JOHNSON: Who would that have been?

GONZALES: Well, I think, again, based upon looking at the documents, obviously, issues relating to Ms. Lam were raised with me, and I believe that was done by Mr. Mercer -- by Mr. Bill Mercer. My understanding is, is that in fact Mr. Comey was in fact consulted about his views about U.S. attorneys.

And so, I mean, if you look at the public testimony and if you look at the documentation, there were people that were being consulted. They may not have known that they were providing information which would then form the basis of some kind of list.

JOHNSON: Can you name of the people who were involved in the compilation of the list?

CONYERS: The time has run out. Did you want to finish the response, Mr. Attorney General?


JOHNSON: Can you name -- well, if I might get a response to you to that last question -- can you name any others who were involved in the decisions to put those eight names on the list?

CONYERS: Could you...

JOHNSON: Are you going to answer me or what?

CONYERS: No, he's not answering because your time has expired.

JOHNSON: All right. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: But I recommend that you put it in written communication to the attorney general.

From Arizona, Mr. Trent Franks. The gentleman is recognized at this time.

FRANKS: Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Judge Gonzales, for coming down here. I know that life has been kind of challenging for you lately.


FRANKS: And I want you to know that I personally appreciate your service to the country. You have a profoundly difficult job.

And you know, I was touched by the three priorities that you mentioned, with your job, in being able to combat terrorism and being able to combat gang violence and to protect our children from some of the tragedies that occur out there.

And I want you to know I believe that those are very noble aspirations.

It occurs to me that, every day that we have you down at this place, that we are detracting from those vital missions in this country.

And so, if indeed our effort here is to find corruption in the Justice Department, where justice itself is being undermined and where some of the potential accusations here are that your department is undermining justice in specific cases by hiring and firing U.S. attorneys, then I think that our efforts here are justified.

But if indeed they are politically motivated or not to that end, then we become guilty of the very thing that has been thrown in your direction.

So I want to ask a very direct question. You know, we understand that there's a difference between political motivations and motivations to thwart a criminal investigation or to affect a particular case or to undermine justice.

Now, in this country, we have partisan elections. And when we put a president in office, we expect that person to appoint people that reflect the philosophy that we voted for. That comes with the job.

I mean, Mr. Clinton fired all the U.S. attorneys. So we expect that.

And political motivations, even though they're tossed about like this, something bad here, those are part of our system and they're intrinsic to its survival.

On the other hand, if someone in your position or in your department should deliberately try to intimidate or fire a U.S. attorney in order to affect a particular case or undermine justice or prevent justice from occurring in a particular case, that is a crime, and that is wrong.

FRANKS: So I ask you very directly, sir. Have you ever fired anyone or caused anyone to be fired or influenced anyone to be fired on the basis of trying to affect a particular criminal case or investigation, or to thwart justice in any way?


FRANKS: Do you know of anyone in the administration or your department that has done either of those things?


FRANKS: See, I think, Mr. Chairman, that is indeed the job of this committee, is to ask those very direct questions.

And, of course, time and justice has a way of prevailing. And the truth of those answers -- of which I have to say to you I've seen no evidence that either of those things have occurred, before this committee or otherwise -- but time will probably bear that out one way or the other.

But I just wanted to make sure that we understood what we're all about here. And your job is protecting this country. And while we're interviewing you like this, it cannot possibly help but detract from what you're trying to do to protect this country and to pursue those three priorities that you mentioned earlier.

So I guess one of the things I'd like to do, Judge Gonzales, is to ask you, what do you think is the public's greatest misperception of the Department of Justice at this time, given all the circumstances that have occurred here?

GONZALES: Well, given some of the statements that have been made, the notion that the department has been politicized.

As I indicated in response to an earlier question, there are only hundreds -- there a few hundred political appointees. There are tens of thousands of career individuals.

The department is great because of the career individuals. They deserve all the credit for the success of the department.

And it would be pretty darn difficult, if not impossible, to make a decision for political reasons and expect to get away with it. If in fact someone -- if a career investigator or prosecutors felt that we were making decisions for political reasons to interfere with a case, you'd probably hear about it. We'd probably read about it in the papers. Because they take this stuff very seriously, as they should. We expect them to.

And, again, I just want to emphasize to the American public that the work of the department continues, irrespective of who the attorney general is, United States attorney is. It continues because of the great career people in the department.

FRANKS: Well, Judge Gonzales, let me just thank you for your service to this country and the cause of human freedom.

And with that, I'd like to defer here the rest of my time to Steve King.

CONYERS: Twenty-nine seconds remain, Steve.

KING: I thank the gentleman from Arizona, the constitutionalist quodetile himself, and the chairman.

Mr. Chairman, I, like all members of this committee, are interested in maintaining our credibility, and I have an article here from the Wall Street Journal dated April 7th, 2007, that and associated articles, and I ask unanimous consent to introduce them into the record.

CONYERS: Without objection, so ordered.

KING: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

And I want to thank the attorney general for his testimony here today, and I appreciate the tone and the tenor of the gentleman from Arizona. And we all are concerned about the safety of the American people, and it's been extraordinarily safe since September 11th given what we anticipated.

And I'd yield back to the gentleman from Arizona.

FRANKS: And I just thank the gentleman for coming.

CONYERS: Members of the committee, we're trying to finish up as close to 2:30 as possible. And so the chair is going to be very strict with the time from this point on.

And we recognize the gentleman from California, Brad Sherman.

SHERMAN: Thank you. The administration has put forward various theories under which anyone, even American citizens, could be arrested without being charged with a crime. One of these is the theory that you could be classified as an enemy combatant. Are there any American citizens being held today for over a month who have been denied habeas corpus or access to an attorney?

GONZALES: I don't believe so, Congressman.

SHERMAN: Wouldn't it be your duty as attorney general to make sure that their rights to habeas corpus were honored?

GONZALES: Well, but, you know, there are a lot of people in this government, and sometimes people do things that they shouldn't be. And I'm not suggesting that that's occurring here, but you're asking me, you know, a question that I hadn't really thought about.

SHERMAN: Is there any agency answerable to the -- well, is there any part of the Department of Justice...

GONZALES: We're all answerable to the Constitution and to our laws, yes.

SHERMAN: Now, are there any U.S. citizens being held now by foreign governments or foreign organizations that are without access to attorneys as a result of rendition where agents of the administration have taken people into custody and then given them up to foreign officials?

GONZALES: I don't, Congressman, I don't know if I have the answer to that question either.

GONZALES: It's something that I would have to look at.

SHERMAN: Wouldn't you, as the chief office responsible for protecting our civil rights want to know?

GONZALES: Yes, and I'm not suggesting that that...

SHERMAN: I would hope that...

GONZALES: ... is occurring. I just -- quite frankly, I haven't thought about this.

SHERMAN: Will you respond for the record to those questions. Thank you.

GONZALES: I'd be happy -- if I can respond to the questions to the -- I will do that.

SHERMAN: Let me move on to another question. You now have focused more on these -- yes, go ahead.

GONZALES: I don't want the press to run out and say, "Oh my gosh, U.S. citizens are being held by the government secretly, other governments." I don't think that's the case. I just want the American people to understand that.

SHERMAN: I look forward to a definitive answer for the record, and let's move on. You've now spent more time looking at these eight U.S. attorneys then you might have expected to. Are there any of them that you think it was a mistake to fire and that it would have been in the interest of the administration of justice to have left at their posts?

GONZALES: You know, I've gone back and thought a lot about this. You're right. And, in fact, I spoke with the deputy attorney general after Mr. Sampson's public testimony and asked him, "OK, do you still stand by the recommendation?" And the answer was yes. I think the one that's probably the closest call for me is Mr. Bogden in Nevada, and I talked about this in my Senate testimony. It is for that reason that I have reached out to Mr. Bogden and have offered my assistance in trying to help him, move him forward with an employment. But again, the standard is, was anything improper here...

SHERMAN: I'm not asking improper; we all make mistakes.

GONZALES: I stand by the decisions. I stand by the decisions.

SHERMAN: So if you had it to do all over again, these eight would be toast.

GONZALES: No, because, again, we would have used a different process and I don't know whether or not using this different process the same recommendations would have come to me. I relied upon the recommendations.

SHERMAN: Well, I'm asking you whether you made a mistake, not whether you liked your process. Did the conclusion to fire these eight...

GONZALES: I think...

SHERMAN: ... is that -- was that the right, best thing to do for the administration of justice?

GONZALES: I think I stand by the decision. In hindsight, I'm not happy with the process. I know that, to me, the process is important too, and I think using a different process, we may have come out with different recommendations to me which would have made a different, perhaps.

SHERMAN: Well, it's -- let me move on. You've said that it would -- you know, U.S. attorneys deal with political sensitive investigations. It would be wrong to fire one in order to thwart an ongoing investigation. Would it be wrong to fire a U.S. attorney because he failed to announce indictments before an election date?

GONZALES: Well, of course, with respect to making public an indictment, that's something -- particularly if you're talking about an announcement on or around election, you may get criticized if you do it before the election; you may get criticized if you do it after the election. What I tell people is try to be sensitive and do what's best for the case.

SHERMAN: Let me move on. Would it be wrong -- let's say an investigation had been completed and it was politically painful to your party how it went, somebody got indicted or convicted. Would it be wrong for you to fire a U.S. attorney after the investigation, not for the purpose of thwarting the investigation, which had already been completed, but for the purpose of rebuking that attorney for having chosen to investigate those associated with your political party.

GONZALES: I'm not sure I'm comfortable with answering that question. I will say this...

SHERMAN: Do you think it might be OK to fire somebody because they successfully completed an investigation?

GONZALES: Let me just give an example of the way we deal with these cases: Representative Bob Ney. We accepted a plea from Representative Ney six weeks before the election.

GONZALES: We didn't have to do that before the election. I'm sure there's some Republicans around the country who felt -- sort of scratched heads when we in fact took that plea right before the election. Why did we do that? We did it because we don't -- we aren't motivated by politics. We do what's best for the case.

CONYERS: Thank you very much. Steve Chabot of Ohio, ranking member on the Subcommittee on the Constitution.

CHABOT: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Attorney General Gonzales, for being here today. I want to apologize for not having been here for the entirety of this hearing because the -- I'm the ranking member on the Small Business Committee and for the last couple of hours we had a hearing on that. So -- in any event. General Gonzales, last August I want to thank you for coming to my district, the city of Cincinnati. And you joined with us there -- myself, chief of police and others -- to participate in a roundtable discussion with local city and federal law enforcement officials such as the U.S. attorney, Mr. Lockhart, there and FBI Special Agent in Charge Tim Murphy. And the roundtable focused on the violent crime problems that continue to plague communities all over the country including my city, Cincinnati. During that meeting, several federal-local cooperative approaches were discussed to reduce gun violence and illegal drug use in the region, such as Project Safe Neighborhoods. In addition, you announced the addition of 23 new federal prosecutors in the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, including one for southwest Ohio. Cincinnati's located in southwest Ohio. My question to you, General Gonzales, is: What has the Department of Justice been doing, and what are you willing to do to address violent crime and gun violence? And has the addition of a federal prosecutor in southwest Ohio resulted in increased federal prosecutions? And has funding assisted the local FBI, DEA and ATF special agents in charge in their investigations of gun violence and illegal drug use and violent crime?

CHABOT: I know that's a lot in one question.

GONZALES: Congressman, I'll answer the specifics in terms of Cincinnati. I'd like to be able to get back to you and give you accurate numbers. But let me just say: I think we've enjoyed a good period in terms of decline in crime rates. We're starting to see, however, some disturbing upticks in certain communities around the country. And it's for that reason that we initiated this 18-city tour recently, where we sent out DOJ officials to communities around the country where they've enjoyed -- some communities have enjoyed success in reducing crime. Others have not been so successful. Trying to understand the reasons why -- what's working, what's not working. We are very close to be in a position to talk about what we've learned, and perhaps make some recommendations. I'm worried about it. Again, as I indicated in response to an earlier question, I don't people can really realize America's promise if they're worried about their neighborhood -- safety, guns, drugs, gangs. This is something that I view as one of the things I'm going to be focused on in these remaining months in the administration, because I think it's important as the attorney general to do that. Before 9/11, Project Safe Neighborhood was the number one domestic law enforcement program for the Department of Justice, which is to reduce gun crime. And so we're still going to remain focused on that. I'm worried about gangs. It's going to require the help of our neighbors down south. I'm going to a regional anti-gang summit in June, with the attorney generals from Mexico and Central American countries. Because we can't just solve that issue solely within the United States. But I look forward to working with you on this issue. You've been a terrific partner and a champion for your district. And I hope there are additional things that we can do to help you.

CHABOT: Thank you very much, Mr. Attorney General. And one final area I'd like to explore briefly here. As you know, the city of Cincinnati suffered through riots back in April of 2001. And in April of this past year, the Department of Justice made the decision to terminate its memorandum of agreement with the city of Cincinnati, finding that the city and police department have met the more than 80 provisions set forth for the -- or, excuse me, by the Department of Justice. The city continues to work with local officials to meet additional requirements that are set forth in a separate agreement, which is known as the Collaborative Agreement. The MOA between the city and the Department of Justice was incorporated by reference into the Collaborative Agreement and thus has played a significant role in the administration of the Collaborative Agreement. Will the Department of Justice acknowledge and support the city's and the police's good faith efforts if any dispute were to arise between now and termination of the Collaborative Agreement?

GONZALES: We've always -- we've had a good working relationship with the police. If there are things that we can do to be helpful, of course we'll look at that, Congressman. In terms of whether or not -- what our official jurisdiction or authority may be in this matter, we'll have to wait and see. But, again, if there's things that the department can do to continue to help the citizens of Cincinnati be safe and that the citizens enjoy their rights, we'll be happy to look at that.

CHABOT: Thank you very much, Mr. Attorney General. And I yield back the balance of my time, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: Thank you. The chair now recognizes in some way the newest member of the committee, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

BALDWIN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, General Gonzales. I want to ask unanimous consent to submit for the record a New York Times article entitled, "A Woman Wrongly Convicted and a U.S. Attorney Who Kept His Job." Before submitting it, there's just two paragraphs I'd like to read. It says, "The United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, which heard Ms. Thompson's case this month, did not discuss whether her prosecution was political, but it did make clear that it was wrong. And in an extraordinary move, it ordered her release immediately without waiting to write a decision." Quote, "'Your evidence is beyond thin,' end quote, Judge Diane Wood told the prosecutor." Quote, "'I'm not sure what your actual theory in this case is,'" end quote. "Members of Congress should ask whether it was by coincidence or design that Steven Biskupic, the United States attorney in Milwaukee, turned a flimsy case into a campaign issue that nearly helped Republicans win a pivotal governor's race."

BALDWIN: I would ask unanimous consent to submit that for the record.

CONYERS: Without objection, so ordered.

GONZALES: Could I respond?


BALDWIN: At the time, I...

CONYERS: Would you mind if he responded to that article?

GONZALES: First of all...

BALDWIN: I have lots of questions about it, so...

GONZALES: Well, go ahead. As long as we're talking about that, that would be -- I haven't read the article. I have no idea of knowing whether what's in there is true or not, but...

BALDWIN: Anyway, I said, at the time of this remarkable case in the 7th Circuit that I believed Congress should investigate not only the circumstances surrounding the forced resignations of eight U.S. attorneys but also whether partisan politics influenced or even dictated the investigations conducted by U.S. Attorney's Offices in order to stay in the administration's good graces. And I'm pleased to have an opportunity to ask you some questions today. General Gonzales, since your appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I'm sure you've taken additional steps to refresh your memory on subject matters that you did not recall during that hearing. So, let me ask you again, are you aware that Mr. Biskupic was on the first known version of the list compiled by your chief of staff, Mr. Sampson, dated March 2, 2005, recommending names of U.S. attorneys to be fired?

GONZALES: Yes, my understanding is, Congresswoman, is that, actually, the list included all the United States attorneys. And the documentation reflected, sort of, Mr. Sampson's -- I presume -- then current view of their performance. But with respect to Mr. Biskupic, let me just remind everyone, this was a career prosecutor who made the charging decision on the Georgia Thompson case in consultation with the then-Democratic state attorney general and the Democratic local prosecutor. They all agreed this was the right thing to do...

BALDWIN: Let me...

GONZALES: ... no question that the decision by the circuit was quite different, quite surprising. But the notion that Mr. Biskupic would in any way -- this was a career prosecutor, again -- charging decisions made in consultation with Democratic officials, I just think is ludicrous.

BALDWIN: A career prosecutor who was on the list, and then was...

GONZALES: And he didn't know that. He's already publicly...


GONZALES: He's publicly said he didn't know he was on the list.

BALDWIN: General Gonzales, among my concerns are many press reports and also documents produced by your Justice Department that show that Wisconsin Republican operatives were actively complaining and feeding documents to the White House about the need for more voter fraud investigation of prosecution in Milwaukee in late 2004 and 2005, right before Mr. Biskupic was placed on this list.

BALDWIN: Documents produced by your department indicate that Karl Rove was looking at a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article on alleged voting irregularities on February 2, 2005, just one month before Mr. Biskupic was placed on the list. Do you know whether Mr. Rove or anyone else who was concerned about voter fraud prosecution played a role in Mr. Biskupic's being placed on the list?

GONZALES: Well, again, all the United States attorneys that I recall are on this initial list...

BALDWIN: Well, his name...

GONZALES: ... and the White House has indicated that they did not play a role in adding or deleting people from the list. And let me just say, the Georgia Thompson case -- again, this everyone knows -- is not a voter fraud case.

BALDWIN: I'm running out of time, so I...

GONZALES: It is a public integrity case.

BALDWIN: Let me also -- I want to read to you an excerpt from Mr. Sampson's interview with Judiciary Committee staff. This is regarding...

GONZALES: Can I see it? Can I see? If, in fact, you're reading from his testimony, I'd like to see it.

BALDWIN: I'd be happy to have a copy made. I can read it and then -- this is on page 57 of the documentation. This is questioning concerning Mr. Biskupic's name on the list.

Mr. Sampson replies, "I have a vague recollection -- I'm not sure when in time it occurred -- of a conversation with the deputy attorney general about Biskupic. What I remember about that conversation is the deputy attorney general suggesting that Mr. Biskupic had been recommended by appointment by Chairman Sensenbrenner, and that identifying him as somebody who might be asked to resign would perhaps not be a wise thing to do politically if it brought the ire of Chairman Sensenbrenner."

BALDWIN: "I do not remember when that was." Then the person asking Mr. Sampson questions said, "Very good. I take it you didn't have any conversations with Mr. Sensenbrenner or any other officials outside of the Department of Justice concerning Mr. Biskupic." Mr. Sampson: "That's right. I don't remember having any conversations like that." So my question for you...

CONYERS: Time has run out. You want to finish your...

BALDWIN: My question is, would you not view this to be a political consideration relating to these personnel decisions? Don't you find it disturbing that speculation about the reaction of a member of Congress played a role in his bring on the list or taken off the list?

GONZALES: Well, again, you'll have to talk to Mr. Sampson about the list. Mr. Biskupic was not recommended to me for change, and therefore there was no consideration by me as to whether or not a change should occur. And, you know, the views of a senator or a member of Congress about the performance of a United States attorney, I don't think it's the wrong thing to take those into account. You are often involved in making recommendations and providing your views with respect to appointments of United States attorneys. And so I don't think there's anything surprising about that.

CONYERS: The chair recognizes from Texas Judge Louie Gohmert.

GOHMERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, General, for being here to testify. Earlier a colleague across the aisle, Ms. Lofgren, had mentioned that there are over 300,000 names that need to be checked and that are pending at the FBI. I'm hoping we'll have time for a hearing on that and the appropriate people in to testify, because I certainly agree with her, that is a major problem.

GOHMERT: But that's not the point of the hearing. We also had another colleague that was grilling you, General, about the national security letters and the alleged abuses, and I think that needs to be the source of another hearing. But I believe the director of the FBI, personally, I think, would be a more appropriate witness than you are on that. So what we're about here today, as I understood it, was more about the U.S. attorneys firings, and before I get into that, I just think there's something very important. Earlier in the hearing, our colleague from California, Ms. Sanchez, has used the word target about another colleague, and then when that was brought up by my friend from California, Mr. Lungren, she had indicated he was turning her words and that she didn't use those words -- and that was just in a matter of minutes -- and then later apologized if she had said something inappropriate. And I want to encourage my colleagues across the aisle, please, I know the tendency has been with the general here when he couldn't recall something that happened days, weeks, months before or maybe he misrecalled something, the indications have been to call him a liar basically, either inferring that or just stating it. And I want to encourage my colleagues not to treat Ms. Sanchez like that. I think she make a honest mistake even though it was just a matter of minutes later that she couldn't recall what she said. Please don't be so judgmental to our colleague Ms. Sanchez. I think it was an honest mistake and please don't judge her the way you've judged the attorney general.

(UNKNOWN): Is the gentleman suggesting a double standard, if he would yield?

GOHMERT: No, I'm asking a double standard. I'm asking that Ms. Sanchez not be judged like the general has been on recall. Now, with regard to the New York Times -- that was brought up by another colleague across the aisle in an article offered -- and I would mention that in March 24 of '93, the New York Times had an article about -- and said, "All 93 United States attorneys knew they would be asked to step down, since all are Republican holdovers. And 16 have resigned so far. But the process generally takes much longer, and had usually been carried out without the involvement of the attorney general. Ms. Reno was under pressure to assert her control over appointments at the Justice Department. She was Clinton's third choice for attorney general, arrived after most of the department's senior positions were already filled by the White House. And on further it says, "It was unclear whether Ms. Reno initiated the request for resignations, or whether it was pressed on her by the White House. The attorney general said it was a joint decision." Now, there are other indications, other articles about some of those investigations that may have been affected. But I would ask you, General, if there was no intent there by the Clinton administration to impede any investigation or affect an investigation. And all 93 U.S. attorneys were fired within 12 days of Attorney General Reno taking office, simply for political reasons. Is that a crime?


GOHMERT: No, it's not a crime?


GOHMERT: So they can do that, strictly for political reasons.

GONZALES: The U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president of the United States.

GOHMERT: Well, if it turned out that this was a joint decision by the attorney general and the White House in 1993, and others within the Justice Department, to have all 93 resigned at the same time, is that a crime in and of itself?


GOHMERT: Now, we've also heard across the aisle reference to a U.S. attorney named McKay.

GOHMERT: And I would reference a article from the Weekly Standard, March 14, 2007, which indicated that U.S. Attorney John McKay from Washington state -- in 2004, the governor's race was decided in favor of Democrat Christine Gregoire by 129 votes on the third recount. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and other media outlets reported, some of the voters were deceased. Others were registered in storage rental facilities. And still others were convicted felons. More than 100 ballots were discovered in a Seattle warehouse. None of this constitutes proof that the election was stolen. But it should have been enough to prompt Mr. McKay, a Democrat, to investigate -- something he declined to do, apparently on grounds he had better things to do. Now, if you or the president -- particularly the president, since you've said they serve at the pleasure of the president. If somebody were fired because they would not investigate what appeared to be problematic and potentially a crime, is that a legitimate basis for a firing or resignation?

GONZALES: Of course. It could be depending on the circumstances. Obviously, if a crime has been committed -- potentially committed -- I mean, there's an obligation upon the Department of Justice to investigate and to prosecute. There obviously is prosecutory discretion...

CONYERS: We have a time problem, Mr. Gohmert.

GOHMERT: All right.

Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

CONYERS: And I thank you, sir. The chair recognizes a former assistant U.S. attorney himself, Adam Schiff of California.

SCHIFF: Mr. Gonzales, I wanted to go over some of your testimony in the Senate. You testified in September of 2005, Senator Domenici called you to complain that Mr. Iglesias was in over his head and lacked the resources to prosecute corruption cases. Is that correct?

GONZALES: I don't know if I said in connection with that particular call that he lacked the resources. I think what I may have -- I think what I testified to was the fact that he was concerned that Mr. Iglesias did not have the top talent working on public corruption cases generally. And I think in subsequent conversations that occurred in '06, I think there were concerns raised by Senator Domenici about whether or not there were sufficient resources available to handle other kinds of cases.

SCHIFF: Well, you testified in the Senate that he told you in these conversations that he lacked the resources to handle corruption cases. Are you saying that's not correct today?

GONZALES: What I'm saying is, is that -- I recall him saying with respect to some of the conversations.

GONZALES: I don't recall sitting here today that he said that with respect to the first case. The first conversation that I had -- what I recall in the first conversation was Senator Domenici indicated -- he questioned whether or not, does Mr. Iglesias have his best people working on these kinds of very difficult cases?

SCHIFF: On corruption cases?

GONZALES: That is my recollection, yes.

SCHIFF: So in September '05, he talked to you about corruption cases. In January of '06, you spoke with him again. Again, he complained about Mr. Iglesias and his handling or lack of resources with respect to corruption cases, correct?

GONZALES: My recollection, Congressman, is that the subsequent -- I have a recollection that in one of the conversations, which I believe occurred in '06 -- one of the two conversations that I had -- he mentioned generally voter fraud cases. That's the extent of my recollection.

SCHIFF: In none of your Senate testimony do you indicate that Senator Domenici talked to you about voter fraud, only about corruption cases.

GONZALES: I don't remember being asked specifically about the conversations that I had in '06, Congressman. Obviously, I mean...

SCHIFF: Well, your testimony was that you had three conversations.


SCHIFF: And there two points that Senator Domenici made. First, that he was in over his head...

GONZALES: I didn't mean...

SCHIFF: Second, that he lacked resources to prosecute corruption cases...

GONZALES: I didn't mean to imply that those were the only points or things said in those conversations.

SCHIFF: So now you recall that he also talked about voter fraud cases?

GONZALES: Yes. In fact -- it's not a recollection that I have just sitting here today. But, yes, I have a recollection that the issue of voter fraud cases generally -- not specific cases, but generally -- was raised in one of those two conversations in '06.

SCHIFF: And you also said, in the Senate, that as a result of your conversations with the senator, you lost confidence in Mr. Iglesias. Is that correct?

GONZALES: Obviously, I was not surprised to see Mr. Iglesias's name recommended to me. The fact that the senior senator...

SCHIFF: That's not my question. You testified in the Senate you lost confidence in him as a result of this. Is that correct?

GONZALES: Not having the confidence of the senior senator and the senior leadership in the department was enough for me to lose confidence in Mr. Iglesias to recommend...

SCHIFF: OK. So you lost confidence in him after these three calls?

In July of '06, after these three conversations, you go out to New Mexico; you meet with Mr. Iglesias. You said not a word about losing confidence with him, did you?

GONZALES: I don't recall having -- mentioning that, no, sir.

SCHIFF: In fact, you were there to announce you were providing resources not for corruption cases and not for voter fraud cases by for immigration cases, something you've never said Senator Domenici raised with you?

GONZALES: I don't recall Senator Domenici raising with me concerns about immigration cases.

SCHIFF: So nothing you did or said in July of '06, during your meeting with Mr. Iglesias, is consistent with what you're saying now about your conversations with Senator Domenici?

GONZALES: I don't recall raising these issues with Mr. Iglesias in my visit in '06.

SCHIFF: Now, you were the only one on the phone with Senator Domenici during these three calls. Is that correct?

GONZALES: From my end. I don't know whether or not anyone was on the phone as well from his end.

SCHIFF: So, on your end, you're the only one who would know what the substance of those conversations was?

GONZALES: Again, I was the only one...

SCHIFF: In March of this year, when Mr. Roehrkasse, your press spokesman, said that in none of these conversations, none of these three conversations, were corruption cases mentioned, that wasn't true, was it?

GONZALES: Well, again, I don't know whether or not Mr. Roehrkasse was talking about specific corruption cases or as a general category. Senator Domenici did not mention specific corruption cases.

SCHIFF: And you don't think that's misleading, for him to tell the country, and for you to have a press conference the week after and not correct the record, for him to tell the country there was no mention of a corruption case in your conversations?

GONZALES: There was no mention of a corruption case.

SCHIFF: Oh, there was mention about corruption cases but not a corruption...

GONZALES: I do not think it was misleading, Congressman.

SCHIFF: Mr. Gonzales, I worked in the department for six years. And I love that department. And it makes me ill to see what's happened to it.

SCHIFF: And for you to come here today and say there's nothing improper about firing a good prosecutor to make room for someone to pad their resume shows me how little respect you have for the professionals in your charge.

(UNKNOWN): Would the gentleman yield?

SCHIFF: And I hope you will reconsider your decision and I hope you will resign because the department is broken and I don't think you're the one to fix it.

(UNKNOWN): Would the gentlemen yield? Who is the -- who is the prosecutor that the gentleman is referring to, Mr. Iglesias or...

CONYERS: The gentleman, time. Excuse me.

(UNKNOWN): I ask unanimous consent for 30 seconds for the gentlemen to help clarify what he just said.

CONYERS: All right.

(UNKNOWN): Were you referring to Mr. Cummins or Mr. Iglesias when you made those really rather harsh statements to the attorney general?

SCHIFF: Mr. Chairman, what I'm referring to are the three conversations the attorney general had with Senator Domenici in which he purportedly complained that Mr. Iglesias lacked the resources to prosecute corruption cases. He talked about -- and then have...

(UNKNOWN): Would the gentleman yield...

CONYERS: The gentleman is not going to get anymore time, this gentleman. Finish your statement.

SCHIFF: And the attorney general's spokesman told the country, and the attorney general failed to correct the record, that in none of these conversations was a corruption case or corruption cases mentioned. That, to me, is misleading to be charitable.

CONYERS: The gentleman's time has expired. And the last member on the minority side to be recognized, as usual, is Jim Jordan from Ohio.


JORDAN: That's usual because I'm the newest member of the committee, right?

CONYERS: Exactly.


CONYERS: That's the only reason.

JORDAN: Thank you. I appreciate that clarification.

Thank you, Mr. Attorney General for being with us this afternoon -- this morning and this afternoon.

JORDAN: I'm not going to ask you about the U.S. attorney issue. I want to talk about two other things I think are timely.

The first is the -- we have a constituent who's brought this to our attention, and there's also a "Dear Colleague" letter dated yesterday from Congressman Etheridge, Congressman King, Senator Leahy, Senator Specter regarding the Hometown Hero Survivor Benefit Act, a good piece of legislation I'm sure you're familiar with.


JORDAN: And was your -- your department was a part of helping craft that, working with the Congress and helping put that law together four years ago.

The letter points out -- and this is, I guess, my concern as well -- that there have only been two positive -- and for those members of the committee who aren't familiar with the act, it's for EMTs, firefighters, police officers who suffer a heart attack or stroke in the line of duty when it's stressful duty, not something that's just routine, but actually out there serving their communities, serving the public, rescuing people.

There have been 230 applications received by the department and only two positive determinations. I'm reading from the letter, the "Dear Colleague" letter.

Can you comment about why so few when it actually passed several years ago, and, again, strong bipartisan support. I think the legislation was crafted narrowly, was well done, and would like your comment.

GONZALES: But it created a whole new system of eligibility under the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program, and rather complicated. And it took us a period of time to work on regulations. We received a lot of comments. We solicited a lot of comments about this. We went back and looked at the entirety of the program, quite frankly.

And so those all became final on September 11th, 2006. And so I think we're now in a position to move forward, and hopefully we can get some decisions made, certainly on a quicker basis.

But that's the reason for the delay. It just took us longer than we anticipated to get these regulations in place.

JORDAN: Second issue is -- and I'm looking today just different issue altogether, but just wanted to bring it up, is in today's Washington Times. Want to know what your thoughts are and feelings and what the department is doing on the issue of sanctuary for illegal aliens.

JORDAN: Some cities have certain policies in place. Some churches are adopting certain policies. There's a great article in -- as I pointed out, in today's Washington Times about that issue. Can you comment about that?

GONZALES: I don't know specifically in terms of what we're doing specifically on this issue. Obviously, we have a job to do in terms of the enforcement of federal laws, but in terms of specifically what we may do with respect to communities that offer up sanctuary, I'd like to have the opportunity to get back to you on that.

JORDAN: I will yield the balance of my time to -- I was going to yield to Mr. Cannon but I would yield to...

CANNON: Thank you. Actually, I...

JORDAN: ... Mr. Cannon.

CANNON: ... asked the gentlemen to yield, and as long as Mr. Schiff's here, I just wanted to clarify, Mr. Schiff, if you don't mind, you talked firing an attorney -- a U.S. attorney so that somebody else could pad his resume. Were you talking about Mr. Iglesias or did you mean Mr. Cummins as the U.S. attorney that was fired.

SCHIFF: I can't -- oh, it is working. At the very end of my remarks, when I said that I thought that it was outrageous for the attorney general to come here today...

CANNON: But I actually want to be very specific.

SCHIFF: And I'm asking -- I'm asking -- yes.

CANNON: Were you talking about padding the resume of Mr. Griffin which is unrelated to Mr. Iglesias? It's my time and I'd actually just like to clarify that for the record.

SCHIFF: Well, if you'll let me answer, I'll be happy to clarify. What I'm referring to is the attorney general's response to Ms. Sanchez. When she asked, "Don't you think it's improper to fire someone to allow somebody else to pad their resume, to fire a perfectly good prosecutor," and the attorney general's was "There's nothing improper about that."

CANNON: Reclaiming my time, you have two complaints about the attorney general.

SCHIFF: And I think there's something incredibly improper about that.

CANNON: Reclaiming my time. You have two complaints against the attorney general. One is what you accused him of, being improper; and the other is the padding the resume, and that goes back to Ms. Sanchez. And I was just trying to clarify that.

I would like to point out for the record -- in fact, it's been an interesting hearing, Mr. Chairman. We started out talking about bread crumbs, and, of course, with the $250,000 that your side is spending on attorneys, we would hope that that would be more like caviar. But in any event, at some point we have to get to the gist of what's -- what the problem is here. And if the problem is whether or not Mr. Iglesias was competent or should be fired, let me just remind the panel that Mr. Margolis, who is not a political hack -- he is a career guy, well-respected -- said, "Given everything I know today, he" -- referring to Mr. Iglesias, "would have been number one on my list to go." He later said that he was absolutely furious about the way Mr. Iglesias handled these kind of things. To challenge the attorney general the way I think he's been challenged here, just seems to me to be highly inappropriate. If you're concerned about the Department of Justice, let's get this thing solved, let's get the questions answered. We've had dozens of interviews...

CONYERS: The gentleman's time has expired.

CANNON: A dozen interviews and hearings. Let's get beyond this, unless there's something really...

CONYERS: The gentleman's time has expired.

The chair now recognizes as far as we can go, we're down to only three more witnesses -- the gentleman from Alabama, Artur Davis; himself a former assistant U.S. attorney.

DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me let the bell stop before I begin. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, if I can proceed. General Gonzales, you've said several times that the U.S. senator, Senator Domenici, lost confidence in the U.S. attorney.

GONZALES: That was my impression, yes.

DAVIS: Is it the -- is it your practice to sample the opinion of U.S. senators regarding their confidence in U.S. attorneys?

GONZALES: No. What's really important...

DAVIS: No. My question is: Is it your practice to sample...

GONZALES: Can I give you the answer?

DAVIS: Well, is it your practice to sample the opinion of U.S. senators regarding performance?

GONZALES: What is important here is that there was a consensus recommendation by the senior leadership in the Department of Justice who knew the performance of U.S. attorneys...

DAVIS: No, sir. I only have a limited amount of time, General Gonzales...

GONZALES: ... and made the recommendation to me.

DAVIS: General, I have a limited amount of time. Is it your practice, yes or no, to sample the opinion of all 100 U.S. senators regarding the performance of United States attorneys?

GONZALES: Of course not but, in this particular case, what's important...

DAVIS: Are there any Democratic senators -- we only have a limited time, General.

GONZALES: The senior leadership in the department gave me their base recommendations...

DAVIS: I'm not asking about Mr. Iglesias, General Gonzales. I'm asking in general.

GONZALES: I'm responding...

DAVIS: Are there any Democratic senators who have expressed concern about U.S. attorneys and there have been terminations based on the concern of Democratic senators, yes or no?

GONZALES: Not that I can recall.

DAVIS: Is there significant justification, Mr. Gonzales, for a significant disparity in the number of Democrats prosecuted versus the number of Republicans prosecuted, with respect to local elected officials?

Was there any reason for that disparity?

GONZALES: I wouldn't know if such a disparity existed. It's not something that we look at.

DAVIS: Would it concern you?

GONZALES: It's not something we keep track of.

DAVIS: Would it concern you if there were a disparity between the number of elected Democratic officials prosecuted and the number of elected Republican officials prosecuted?

GONZALES: Well, again...

DAVIS: Would it concern you if it existed, yes or no?

GONZALES: It depends on the reasons for it.

DAVIS: Well, I will ask to put it in the record, Mr. Chairman, a survey done by the University of Minnesota, which surveys prosecutions of local elected officials between 2001 and 2006 and surveys with respect to the partisan affiliation.

Eighty-five percent of the local officials prosecuted were Democrats. Twelve percent were Republicans...

(UNKNOWN): Would the gentleman yield?

DAVIS: No, I will not yield.

(UNKNOWN): Well, are you...

DAVIS: General Gonzales, do you dispute that characterization?

GONZALES: This report -- I don't know the basis of this report. We don't keep that kind of numbers. And quite frankly, for us to do, that would be more alarming.

DAVIS: Well, General Gonzales, let me ask you the question: Would it concern you if you did your own research and you discovered that there was a significant disparity?

GONZALES: We're not going to do that kind of research...

DAVIS: Would it concern you if it were reported...

GONZALES: ... because I think it would be dangerous to do that kind of research.

DAVIS: Would it concern you?

GONZALES: Listen, it would concern me if we're not making cases based on the evidence.

DAVIS: General Gonzales, I would represent to you that -- and you can certainly check the data yourself, 50 percent of the local elected officials in this country are Democrats, 41 percent are Republicans.

Again, I ask you the question: Do you have any reason to assert that seven times more Democrats are guilty of federal crimes than Republicans?

GONZALES: I have no way or knowing the legitimacy of this report you're citing to. I don't know the basis of these numbers.

DAVIS: Let me, if I can, go back to the Wisconsin case to possibly test this theory.

These were the facts in the Wisconsin case. A woman who was a career appointee, who had appointed by a Republican governor, was working for the state tourism department. She was indicted because a contract was awarded to a political contributor to the Democratic governor. There was no testimony at trial that she knew of the contribution. There was no testimony at trial that she was asked to award the contract to this particular company. And there was testimony at trial that the company was the lowest bidder.

Are you aware that in that particular case involving Georgia Thompson the 7th Circuit vacated the conviction from the bench?

GONZALES: Yes, I am aware of that.

DAVIS: Do you know of any other case while you have been attorney general where an appeals court vacated a conviction from the bench?

GONZALES: Highly unusual.

DAVIS: Does that concern you, sir?

GONZALES: Well, again...

DAVIS: Let me turn to -- my time...

GONZALES: The fact that we have a career prosecutor making (inaudible) decisions...

DAVIS: ... let me turn to the Alabama case.

GONZALES: ... with Democratic officeholders...

DAVIS: General, we can't both talk at the same time. I have the time, sir.

The Alabama case, the former governor of Alabama who was a Democrat was indicted...

GONZALES: Can I be allowed to answer questions?

CONYERS: Yes. The attorney general has the privilege to respond to the question.

DAVIS: Let me pose the Alabama context and you cn respond to both.

CONYERS: Well, wait a minute, Mr. Davis, let's let him respond to the other question that you asked.

Briefly, sir.

GONZALES: The government prevailed at the lower court. We prevailed at the lower court.

DAVIS: I take that answer. With respect to the governor of Alabama, the initial case against the former Democratic governor of Alabama dismissed by the 1st District judge before the case went to trial on grounds of insufficient facts. If I can finish the question, Mr. Chairman. The second time, General Gonzales...

CONYERS: You have...

DAVIS: Permission to finish the question, sir?

CONYERS: Please, very briefly.

DAVIS: Thirty-four count indictment, 32 counts dismissed, evidence of jury misconduct based on e-mails that were obtained. The U.S. attorneys office who prosecuted the case declined to investigate the jury misconduct and, indeed, sought to exclude the e-mails from even being heard in an evidentiary hearing. This is the question: Would you expect a U.S. attorney's office that had evidence of jury misconduct to investigate the misconduct or to try to exclude it from being heard in an evidentiary hearing? Which is the better practice, Mr. Gonzales?

GONZALES: As a general matter, the former. But I'm not going to comment on this particular case without looking at the facts.

CONYERS: The chair wishes to recognize Dan Lungren for a request.

LUNGREN: Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent to include in the record three articles -- two of them from the Albuquerque Journal, one from the Albuquerque Lawyer. The first one, April 15th, 2007, entitled "Iglesias had buried critics during career," the second one, "Domenici Sought Iglesias Ouster," that's Sunday, April 15, 2007, and the third, from the Albuquerque Lawyer, March 15, 2007, "Iglesias Earns a Firing."

CONYERS: Without objection, so ordered.

LUNGREN: Thank you.

CONYERS: May I commend the attorney general on his endurance and patience during this very grueling day. We have votes. I have two distinguished members of this committee that I cannot short circuit. So I ask you to bear with us again. But thank you, and the committee stands in recess. We will resume immediately after the vote.


CONYERS: We begin by, again, thanking the attorney general for his continuing steadfastness with us. We know this has been more grueling on your than anybody else. It's been a long day for us all, and we admire your cooperation, sir. The chair recognizes Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida.

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. General Gonzales, I can speak, I think, both for Mr. Ellison and myself. Thank you for your staying to the end for the end of the benchers over here. We almost always are given an opportunity to ask questions and we appreciate the full opportunity to do that. Given that I am from a state that decided the closest presidential election in American history, you might imagine that I would have some concern and interest over voter fraud and voter suppression. This is Merriam-Webster's dictionary, and I want read for you the definition in this dictionary of fraud: "Intentional perversion of truth in order to induce another to part with something of value or to surrender a legal right." Now, Mr. Lungren from California earlier today talked about the priorities of the administration and the direction that was perhaps given to U.S. attorneys to pursue voter fraud as a priority of the administration. And I'm going to assume for the record that that was a priority of the administration, and it was communicated to U.S. attorneys as you've indicated in your testimony today.

GONZALES: The way I would characterize, it was important. I mean, it was important to the administration.

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: OK, priorities are important, so I'm assuming that in my line of questioning. So that having been said, generally I would expect that the pursuit of voter fraud would be along the lines of organized efforts to corrupt the election process. And given the dictionary definition that I just read for you, I want you to tell me whether you think that pursuing a jewelry store owner who got into trouble after a clerk at the motor vehicles' office had given him a registration form to complete that he quickly filled out in line and was unaware that it was reserved just for United States citizens, a 68-year-old man named Mr. Ali (ph), whether you think -- and that's from The New York Times article of April 16 -- whether you think that that meets the definition of fraud as Merriam- Webster defines it, and also in terms of widespread voter corruption. Before you answer, I want to give you two other examples. In Alaska, Rohilio Merherhada-Lopez (ph) managed a gasoline station. He received a voter registration form the mail. Before he had applied for citizenship, he thought it was permissible to vote. He now might be deported to Mexico after 16 years in the United States; does that meet the dictionary definition, or a definition of widespread voter fraud? There's also an example of someone who was actually deported because they made an innocent mistake in filling out a voter registration application. Is that an example of the priorities or the importance that was given in terms of the instructions that you relayed to the United States attorneys in terms of pursuing voter fraud.

GONZALES: At one point, you described it as an innocent mistake. If, in fact, we're talking about innocent mistakes, mistakes happen. If you're talking about intentionally stealing votes, intentionally canceling out...

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: No, I'm not. I'm talking about the examples that I just gave you.

GONZALES: Yes, I mean, those examples would not be ones that I would view as -- and I don't think U.S. attorneys, quite frankly, would look at those cases as priorities.

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Those are all cases that were prosecuted by U.S. attorneys. All of them.

GONZALES: There are more egregious examples. And, again...

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Not that the department pursued.

GONZALES: ... you're taking -- well, I don't know all the facts here. And so, out of fairness to the decisions, if, in fact, there were decisions made by U.S. attorneys to prosecute these kinds of cases, I don't know whether or not there are additional facts that may have made a difference in moving forward with these kinds of prosecutions.

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: General Gonzales, I have had a really hard time today, figuring out what it is you do know. I've sat through this entire hearing, and most of your answers have been you don't know. Now, you know what? I'm 40 years old. And I'm reaching a point where I have spottiness in my memory, too. But something as significant as the lapses in memory that you seem to have had related to the firing of U.S. attorneys and something as significant as not knowing whether or not there has been widespread pursuit by your U.S. attorneys to investigate and pursue corruption and voter fraud, as opposed to individual cases -- these are individual cases cited in a New York Times article, the headline of which is "In Five-Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud." Here is serious...

GONZALES: Are you basing your questions based on a newspaper article?

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: I'm basing my questions based on U.S. attorneys quoted in this newspaper article. In Miami, an assistant United States attorney said many cases there involved what were apparently mistakes by immigrants, not fraud. The headline says "In Five-Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud." So if this was a priority, how was it communicated to the U.S. attorneys and why were they not pursuing it in terms of widespread corruption, as opposed to pursuing individual cases that apparently were mistakes?

GONZALES: Well, again...

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: As opposed to...

CONYERS: Ten seconds remaining.

GONZALES: Well, of course, I mean, again these are decisions made by the United States attorneys in terms of what is appropriate. And, you know, I guess it may be easy to sit here and criticize the prosecutorial decisions made by the United States attorneys...

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: But that's why they were fired.

GONZALES: ... we have an obligation...

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: That's why a number of them were fired -- you did criticize them.

GONZALES: ... to enforce the law, including voter fraud.

CONYERS: The time of the gentlelady has expired.

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Mr. Chairman, can I ask unanimous consent for 34 seconds? I mean, we sat here the whole day, Mr. Chairman, and a number of other members had that opportunity.

CONYERS: I'm totally persuaded.

WASSERMAN-SCHULTZ: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. General Gonzales, I just want to point out what you said on April 19th in response to a question by Senator Cardin, which was your opinion as you expressed it about voter fraud and it being a priority. You made a reference to your growing up in a poor neighborhood and that the one day you were equal to everyone else was on Election Day, and so you really appreciated how important the right to vote is. "Voter fraud, to me," quoting you, "means you're stealing somebody's vote. And so I take this very, very seriously. Having said that, in enforcing or prosecuting voter fraud, we need to be careful that we don't discourage people or intimidate people from participating on Election Day." You clearly have not struck the right balance. And your statements in committee and your answers to questions here and the evidence that is clear from the U.S. attorneys under your control, pursuing innocent mistakes as opposed to widespread corruption are evident. I yield back the balance of my time.

CONYERS: Do you care to respond?


CONYERS: Our final speaker is an eminent member of this committee, done great work, from Minnesota, Mr. Keith Ellison.

ELLISON: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And thank you for your endurance, Attorney General Gonzales. I think it's fair to say that the eight people who were dismissed were -- you stand by those dismissals because, in your view, there were questions about performance. Is that a fair statement?

GONZALES: Well, you know, I think that the problem about saying performance is that it means so many different things to different people.

ELLISON: Right. But in terms of your office's calculus, that's what you were thinking when the dismissal decision was made?

GONZALES: That was the whole purpose of this process.

ELLISON: Right. And so you're concerned about performance of U.S. attorneys, right?

GONZALES: I think we all should be.

ELLISON: Right, and that includes you?


ELLISON: And do you know Rachel Palouse?

GONZALES: Yes, I do.

ELLISON: She worked for you directly, right.

GONZALES: She worked -- yes, in the department, yes...


GONZALES: ... in main Justice.

ELLISON: Right. And recently, well, I think, four senior members of her staff resigned because of her performance issues. Is she still on staff? Is she still a U.S. attorney after those -- after -- is she still on staff?

GONZALES: Yes, she is. And I'm certainly aware of the problems in that office.

ELLISON: This is my question. So the people who took -- they took voluntary demotions, right?

GONZALES: As I understand it, that is correct.

ELLISON: And also, with those voluntary demotions, they took pay cuts, right?

GONZALES: That I'm not aware of.

ELLISON: And so it was because of their objections to her performance, right?

GONZALES: As far as I understand, that's correct.

ELLISON: And this was a U.S. attorney who you know personally, right?

GONZALES: Yes, I do.

ELLISON: In fact, you sent Mr. John Kelly (ph) down there to investigate the situation, right?

GONZALES: Absolutely. We became aware of the problems in that office and we sent a career prosecutor to make an evaluation and report back to us.

ELLISON; So that's a yes. That's a yes. And when did you do that? When did Mr. Kelly (ph) go down and talk to members of the staff?

GONZALES: I would say within the past two months -- I think either shortly before or after these individuals left their management position in the office we sent someone down there, Mr. Kelly (ph), to give us an evlautoin of what was going on becasue we were obviosusly very concerned about...

ELLISON: And Mr. Kelly (ph) talked with numerous people in the office, right?

GONZALES: That is what I understand.

ELLISON: And he took notes of what people said to him, right?

GONZALES: I don't know if he took notes, but he reported back what he learned.

ELLISON: So just to be clear, he took notes. Isn't that true?

GONZALES: Congressman, I don't know...


ELLISON: Is there a document -- is there a document that would summarize what he learned on his visit to Minnesota?

GONZALES: I'm not aware that such a document exists. Such a document...

ELLISON: If such a document exists, would you provide it?

GONZALES: I'm happy to take that request back, Congressman.

ELLISON: OK. Now, I sent you a letter earlier this week, isn't that right? Are you aware that I sent you a letter?

GONZALES: I'm not aware of the letter, but I get lots of letters and I'm sure at the appropriate...


GONZALES: I mean, I'm sure I will make myself aware of...

ELLISON: If I sent a letter to your office and if I got a response back that it had been received, I can expect a full answer to the letter. Would you agree with that?

GONZALES: We try to be as forthcoming as we can in responding back to the Congress.

ELLISON: Now, Ms. Paulose, she was appointed after a gentleman named Mr. Thomas Heffelfinger. Is that right?

GONZALES: He was the U.S. attorney before Ms. Paulose?

ELLISON: And he had a good reputation, isn't that right?

GONZALES: As far as I know, that is correct.

ELLISON: And yet he appeared on a list to be fired that was in your office, that was pulled together by Mr. Sampson. Isn't that right?

GONZALES: My understanding is that his name appeared with all the other 93 United States attorneys, but the views of Mr. Sampson were reflected...


ELLISON: So you don't know that -- that's one you don't -- you don't know that one.

GONZALES: Well, my recollection is, is that he was identified as someone that perhaps there may be issues with.

ELLISON: Right. And yet he -- these issues didn't come from Minnesota, did they? These were not Minnesota concerns, to your knowledge.

GONZALES: Well, again, I don't know the source, why Mr. Sampson had that particular view...

ELLISON: So you don't know that one...


GONZALES: That is correct.

ELLISON: OK. So here we have Mr. Heffelfinger, career prosecutor, and had prosecuted many cases, 58 years old, done the job for years. Ms. Paulose was, what, 34 when she was appointed. Is that right?

GONZALES: Relatively young. I'm not sure her exact age.

ELLISON: Did she go through a Senate confirmation process?

CONYERS: Thirty seconds remaining.

GONZALES: Yes, she did. She was deemed...

ELLISON: There was a vote?

GONZALES: She was deemed -- I don't know if it was a vote, but she was confirmed by the United States Senate as qualified to be the United States attorney in that district.

ELLISON: And she was -- and did the Senate have a vote?

GONZALES: You mean...

ELLISON: A committee vote, voting for here, or was it another kind of process?

GONZALES: What I know is that she was confirmed by the United States Senate.

ELLISON: Is she going to remain in her position given the performance problems that have come to your personal attention?

GONZALES: Well, if things do not change, obviously that would be something we would...


CONYERS: Time of the gentleman has expired.

GONZALES: ... we would have to consider. But we have expressed to Mr. Paulose our concerns. And so we're going to work with her...


ELLISON: One last question -- one last question if -- unanimous consent for one last question.

CONYERS: Go ahead.

ELLISON: Did any of the three other -- the eight individuals who we know were fired for allegedly performance issues have people quitting and going to -- going back to line position in response to the difficulties that came about as a result of their leadership?

GONZALES: Not that I recall. Of course, the difference is, is all eight of these individuals served their full, four-year term.

CONYERS: Thank you so much, sir. It's been a long day. We thought that our day here was longer than your visit in the Senate Judiciary a little while ago, but we appreciate your cooperation and your endurance. Without objection, members will have five legislative days to submit any additional written questions for you which we will forward and as you to return so that they may be made part of the record. Without objection, the record will be open for five legislative days for the submission of these and any other material. Mr. Attorney General, the matters we've been discussing today are of utmost importance, and I'm concerned that we are still not getting the cooperation we need to get to the bottom of them. I am, frankly, disappointed that you are unable to answer the first and most basic question of who put these U.S. attorneys on the firing list and why? Numerous times today, you have made the statements "I don't know" or you'd have to go back and check or you don't remember. It's clear to me that we, on this committee, have a serious duty to press forward with our investigation and for meaningful information from the White House. The bread crumbs that we referred to earlier seem to be leading to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In the meantime, added to our other requests, we ask that you provide us with all documents, continue to provide us, and in unredacted form -- relating in any way to the termination of the ninth terminated U.S. attorney, Mr. Todd Graves. Would you be able to do that?

GONZALES: Mr. Chairman, I will obviously take your request back. I'm not in a position to guarantee that that can be done, but I understand your request.

CONYERS: Thank you.

With that, this hearing is adjourned.

Source: CQ Transcriptions 2007, Congressional Quarterly Inc., All Rights Reserved

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