Americans need to start barbecuing some Jackass Meat
US Democrats urge Bush to reveal any role in prosecutor firings
Published: Tuesday March 13, 2007
Democrats on Tuesday called on President George W. Bush to come clean about any role he might have played in the recent ouster of several federal prosecutors -- a move they condemned as a blatant abuse of power.
"The president must clarify his role in this whole matter," US Senator Charles Schumer said at a press conference.
"The cloud over the US Attorneys, the cloud over the Justice Department, is getting darker and darker, and only the president can dispel it," Schumer said.
The Democratic senator said evidence suggests that Bush's top law enforcement official, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, "was carrying out the political wishes of the president in at least some of these firings."
Gonzales has faced calls for his resignation following news the prosecutors had been sacked, and Schumer repeated that call Tuesday.
"All the evidence makes clear that this purge was based purely on politics: to punish prosecutors who were perceived to be too light on Democrats or too tough on Republicans," he said, adding that among the officials he hopes to hear from are White House aides Harriet Miers and Karl Rove and Gonzales himself.
"We must hear from key White House players immediately, so that the air can be cleared," he said.
Schumer's Democratic Senate colleague Dianne Feinstein said she shared his outrage.
"Were these dismissals orchestrated then without the knowledge of the Attorney General? I think that's a question we have to know," she said.
Meanwhile, the widening scandal claimed its first casualty Tuesday with the resignation of Gonzales's chief of staff Kyle Sampson.
"Kyle Sampson has served as a key member of my team beginning at the White House and continuing here at the Department of Justice first as my Deputy Chief of Staff and then as my Chief of Staff," Gonzales said in a statement.
Schumer said, however, that he was not mollified by Sampson's departure.
"I renew my call that Attorney General Gonzales should step down," he said.
"Today's resignation by his chief of staff does not take the heat off the attorney general. It raises the temperature," the New York Democrat said.
Gonzales has been a loyal aide to George W. Bush since 1995 when the now-president was governor of Texas. Long before his nomination to the attorney general's post in 2004, he ran the Bush's legal services.
The United States has been rocked by allegations that officials overstepped their authority in applying tough anti-terror laws brought in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Believed to be one of the chief architects of the president's expanded powers, Gonzales is also credited with redefining the word "torture" in interrogating terror suspects and with the US refusal to apply the Geneva Convention to those detainees.