On the same day that FBI Director Robert Mueller contradicted the Tuesday testimony of Alberto Gonzales, Senate Democrats went in seemingly different directions about what to do. Mueller gave them enough ammunition.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller said Thursday the government's terrorist surveillance program was the topic of a 2004 hospital room dispute between top Bush administration officials, contradicting Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' sworn Senate testimony.
Mueller's statement came hours after Senate Democrats called for a perjury investigation against Gonzales and subpoenaed top presidential aide Karl Rove in a deepening political and legal clash with the Bush administration.
The problem faced by Senate Democrats is that they aren’t even on the same page. Four Senate Democrats sent a letter today to Solicitor General Paul Clement, asking him to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate whether Gonzales has lied to the Senate in his recent testimony. Yet Pat Leahy didn’t sign the letter, because he and Arlen Specter are offering Gonzales one more chance to review and modify his testimony before they request that the Justice Department IG investigate him.
Leahy has held off calling for a special prosecutor, instead offering Gonzales a week to clarify his statements. If there still are contradictions by the end of next week, Leahy has said he will ask Justice Department Inspector General Glenn A. Fine to conduct a perjury investigation of the attorney general.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the ranking member on the Judiciary committee, accused Schumer of "politicizing this matter" by rushing to call for a perjury investigation less than 48 hours after Gonzales had finished testifying.
"There's a little bit of Don Quixote, everybody's running off in different directions," said Specter, who traveled with Bush to Pennsylvania today. Specter said he, like Leahy, wants to give Gonzales time to review his remarks and determine whether he wants to amend them.
As expected, after Bush slapped Specter around today, Arlen reliably came around.
Later, after returning to Washington, Mr. Specter declined to discuss what he and the president had talked about. Asked whether he supported the call for a special counsel, which was led by Senator Schumer, Mr. Specter said he did not.
Regarding Mr. Gonzales’s testimony, Mr. Specter said: “There are very complex questions that have to be answered on looking at the record. But Senator Schumer’s not interested in looking at the record. He’s interested in throwing down the gauntlet and making a story in tomorrow’s newspapers.”
With the August recess coming, Democrats need to get on the same page and force their GOP counterparts to answer the question during the break as to whether or not they support Gonzales.