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“I hope he’s clear, direct and unapologetic,” Cannon said of Gonzales’ testimony.
“I’m really tired of innuendo and repeated use of the word corruption,” Cannon added. “If [Democrats] can’t produce tomorrow, the story ought to disappear.”
But Democrats seem disinclined to allow what has been an exceedingly fruitful investigation in terms of embarrassment for the Bush administration to dry up after Thursday’s hearing.
“We’re trying to follow the bread crumbs and to determine which of his versions is accurate,” Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) said on Wednesday, referring to what Democrats see as Gonzales’ shifting explanations for the firings.
Democrats intend to focus on who really compiled the hit list of eight prosecutors who were fired in 2006. Gonzales has insisted he was not directly involved in placing names on the list, while former Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson has said he aggregated the list but did not recommend the names that ultimately were placed on it.
Sources said that in private interviews, none of the senior Justice Department officials said they were a big part of the list’s compilation.
“No one is accepting responsibility for it from the Justice Department,” said one Judiciary Committee aide.
Sources also expected that lawmakers were likely to raise questions about recent news of other prosecutors who resigned during the same time frame in places such as Minnesota and Missouri.
In Missouri, a staffer for Sen. Kit Bond (R) contacted the White House counsel’s office in spring 2005 to recommend the dismissal of Kansas City prosecutor Todd Graves. He was replaced by Bradley Schlozman, a former top civil rights attorney at Justice who is now being probed for allegedly hiring people based on their political affiliation. The Senate Judiciary Committee has invited Schlozman to testify on Tuesday.
In Minnesota, Thomas Heffelfinger has insisted he resigned voluntarily. He was replaced by Goodling friend Rachel Paulose.
The names of both Graves and Heffelfinger appeared on an early list of prosecutors to be fired, but their names were later removed.