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Democrats Call for Special Counsel to Probe Gonzales; Leahy Subpoenas Rove, Jennings

In issuing subpoenas today for Rove and Jennings, Leahy said in a statement, “The evidence shows that senior White House political operatives were focused on the political impact of federal prosecutions and whether federal prosecutors were doing enough to bring partisan voter fraud and corruption cases.”

The subpoenas also call for related documents. Both men’s testimony and the documents are due by Aug. 2 at 10 a.m.

The White House has offered to allow Rove and other administration officials to talk to the committee, but only in private and without allowing a transcript of the proceedings. Committee Democrats flatly refused to agree to those terms.

Meanwhile, Specter today said he has asked the Bush administration to provide both him and Leahy with classified briefings on intelligence operations that Gonzales referenced Tuesday.

Specter said he is concerned that Gonzales appeared to indicate that there may be more than one secret intelligence program besides the warrantless wiretapping terrorist surveillance program the president confirmed last year.

“We’ve got to look at the facts. Is Attorney General Gonzales correct that there was a second intelligence program at issue?” Specter said at a news conference.

Saying it was a “work in progress,” Specter said the Bush administration “may be about to read us in as a result of what happened.” Specter has said repeatedly that he and Leahy, as ranking member and chairman, should have been privy to the TSP prior to media revelations about its existence in December 2005.

Specter said he wanted to talk to the Republican Members of Congress who attended the March 2004 briefing to help him determine the facts.

Specter also said the Democratic effort to investigate Gonzales for perjury was “precipitous” and a political stunt.

“Senator Schumer has made a practice of politicizing this matter,” Specter said. He added, “I think the most significant factor about that letter is that Senator Leahy is not on the letter.”

Still, Specter held out the possibility that he would later support a call for a special counsel to investigate Gonzales if his review of the transcripts shows “there was probable cause that perjury had been committed.”

Either way, Specter said he does not think “with the lay of the land the way it is, that the administration is going to let the solicitor general” appoint a special prosecutor.

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