Thursday, April 12, 2007

Congress-more subpeonas for missing emails

The White House's claim that emails sent on a Republican Party account might have been lost was challenged Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, who quipped that even his teenage neighbor could find them.

"They say they have not been preserved. I don't believe that!" Leahy shouted from the Senate floor as the dispute over the firing of federal prosecutors continued at a high pitch.

On Capitol Hill, Democrats tried to stave off charges of setting perjury traps for witnesses. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., released 10 questions the panel would be asking Gonzales.

"'I don't know' will not be an adequate response to any question by the committee," said Schumer, who is leading the investigation. Gonzales, who in the past has issued conflicting accounts of his role in the firings, emerged Thursday from weeks of closed-door preparations for his testimony to attend the funeral of an FBI agent in Readington Township, N.J.

Also Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee authorized Leahy to issue subpoenas that would require the administration to surrender hundreds more documents and force two officials, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General William Moschella and White House political aide Scott Jennings to reveal their roles in the firings. The panel delayed for a week a vote on whether to authorize a subpoena for Rove's deputy, Sara Taylor.

Also Thursday, House and Senate Judiciary Committee members interviewed Mike Battle, the former head of the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys who carried out the firings. On Friday, they were to call back Kyle Sampson, Gonzales' former chief of staff who quit amid the uproar and testified last month that his former boss was involved in the planning.

Leahy has not issued any subpoenas, but permission by his committee Thursday gives him authority to require testimony from all eight of the fired U.S. attorneys and several White House and Justice Department officials named as having had roles in the firings. The White House has refused to make officials such as Rove available to testify under oath. More
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