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Coburn Tells AG to Resign
Examiner-Enterprise
By Lara Jakes Jordan Associated Press Writer
April 20, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attorney General Alberto Gonzales struggled Thursday to convince skeptical senators he did nothing improper in firing eight federal prosecutors, losing ground as a second senator from his own party joined the calls for his resignation.

Republican as well as Democratic lawmakers challenged the embattled attorney general during an often-bitter five-hour hearing before the Judiciary Committee. Lawmakers confronted Gonzales with documents and sworn testimony they said showed he was more involved in the dismissals than he contended.

"The best way to put this behind us is your resignation," Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma bluntly told Gonzales, one GOP conservative to another.

Gonzales disagreed, rejecting the idea that his departure would put the controversy to rest.

Even with the White House offering fresh support, it was a long day for the attorney general.

Seventy-one times he fell back on faulty memory, saying he could not recall or remember conversations or events surrounding the firings. During breaks in the hearing, sign-waving protesters rose from the audience calling for him to resign.

Digging in as the day wore on, Gonzales defended his decision last year to oust the U.S. attorneys. Congress is investigating whether the firings were politically motivated, which the Bush administration vehemently denies.

"The notion that there was something that was improper that happened here is simply not supported," Gonzales said, adding that he would make the same decisions again.

Late Thursday, Sen. Jeff Sessions said in a telephone interview that the Justice Department might be better served with new leadership. "I think it's going to be difficult for him to be an effective leader," said Sessions, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee and former federal prosecutor.

"At this point, I think (Gonzales) should be given a chance to think it through and talk to the president about what his future should be," Sessions said, adding that he was most troubled by Gonzales' inability to recall attending a meeting at which the firings were discussed.

Gonzales has provided differing versions of the events.

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