tampabay.com

Vote is proposed against Gonzales

Democrats plan a no-confidence measure.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published May 18, 2007


WASHINGTON - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' standing in Congress weakened further Thursday as Senate Democrats arranged to hold a no-confidence vote and the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee predicted that the furor over Gonzales' stewardship would end with his resignation.

Gonzales' already shaky position eroded after reports this week about an episode in 2004 when as White House counsel he was involved in an apparent effort to circumvent Justice Department officials who had refused to renew authority for a secret domestic eavesdropping program.

And Thursday, the Washington Post identified several U.S. attorneys who appeared on various Justice Department lists in 2005 and 2006 as potential candidates for dismissal, including Gregory Miller of Florida.

It had been known that a number of prosecutors were added and removed from various Justice Department lists as officials planned the dismissals. The Post account, confirmed by government officials, said that in addition to the eight prosecutors who were dismissed, as many as 18 others had been considered for removal at various times.

Justice Department spokesmen would not confirm the names of any of the prosecutors, but said the lists mostly represented the preliminary thinking of D. Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' former chief of staff, who was in charge of the dismissals.

"These lists, some drafted long before the December resignations, reflect Kyle Sampson's thoughts for discussion during the consultation process, " said Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman. "Many names on these lists, which have been shared with Congress, clearly did not represent the final actions or views of the department's leadership or the attorney general."

Nonetheless, the disclosures brought a fresh wave of criticism of Gonzales. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said Thursday that Gonzales should resign.

In addition, Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said Gonzales' resignation should now be considered a possibility.

Earlier this week, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said Gonzales should leave. Other Republican senators who have called for his resignation are John McCain of Arizona, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

The vote on a resolution of no confidence, to be sponsored by Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California, could come as early as next week, Democrats said.