Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley says he will not join Democrats on the Judiciary Committee who are calling for a perjury investigation of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Grassley, a Republican, says the latest accusations that Gonzales contradicted himself during congressional testimony are politically motivated and he’s not paying them any heed.
Grassley says it all stems from the Justice Department firings several months ago. Grassley says: "The president can hire a U.S. attorney one day and fire him the next day, so you can’t say the firing was illegal. You can sure say that it was done in a stupid way and the public relations of it was a terrible event for Bush, for Gonzales, for the Republicans generally, but nothing illegal."
Four Democrats on the Senate panel want Gonzales to face perjury charges for comments he made that allegedly contradict what the FBI director says occurred during initiation of a wire-tapping program. Grassley likens the flap to a political witch hunt and blames New York Senator Charles Schumer for fanning the flames.
Grassley says, "When this investigation is pushed most by Senator Schumer who’s chairman of the Democratic Campaign Reelection Committee, and he even mentions it in fundraising letters, he keeps pounding away and pounding away at it, then I have to question the motivations of people that are saying that there ought to be such an investigation."
Senator Arlen Spector, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, says the Justice Department would be better off without Gonzales, but adds, more facts are needed before a perjury investigation is launched. Grassley says he’s convinced Gonzales is the innocent victim of a political powerplay.
Grassley says, "As long as that cloud hangs over these accusations, then I’m going to be very reserved in making a judgment that there should be further investigations unless the Democrats that are promoting it, that have been using it for political purposes, stop their participation in it." Gonzales may again be called before the panel to clarify his comments or risk the launch of a perjury probe.