WASHINGTON – President Bush said Thursday he would address any wrongdoing uncovered by congressional or other investigations related to the firings of eight federal prosecutors, but added that new allegations have not swayed his support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
"If there's wrongdoing, it will be taken care of," Bush told reporters at a Rose Garden news conference. Congress and the Justice Department are conducting separate probes into the firings, which Democrats say were improperly political.
The Democrat-led Senate, meanwhile, scheduled a no-confidence vote on Gonzales in mid-June.
"It is the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people," it reads. Chiefly sponsored by Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer of New York and Dianne Feinstein of California, the measure contains no preamble setting out the reasons behind the resolution, an omission made in hopes of drawing more votes.
With five Republican senators having already called on Gonzales to step down and many more walking up to that rhetorical line, Schumer predicted the resolution would win at least the 60 votes required to beat a filibuster. But some Republicans said they might offer competing no-confidence resolutions that could complicate or block the Democrat-sponsored measure.
Bush said the questions about Gonzales' conduct are "kinda being drug out" for political reasons and urged House and Senate committees to wrap up their hearings and get on with legislative business.
Asked whether he still supports Gonzales, Bush replied: "Yes, I've got confidence in Al Gonzales doing the job."
A day earlier, Gonzales' former White House liaison recounted what she called an "uncomfortable" conversation with the attorney general in which he tried to review the events leading up to the firings. The mid-March meeting, Monica Goodling recalled in a daylong House Judiciary Committee hearing, came well after Gonzales and top Justice officials knew they would be called to testify about those same events.
Democrats have said Goodling's account makes it sound like Gonzales was trying to coach her and get their stories straight. The Justice Department denies that, contending that Gonzales was trying to comfort Goodling at a difficult time.