WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Attorney General Alberto Gonzales received a subpoena on Tuesday from a U.S. congressional panel for documents related to the firing of federal prosecutors, a controversy that has prompted calls for his resignation.
“I look forward to your timely compliance so that we can proceed with getting to the truth,” Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote in a letter to Gonzales that accompanied the subpoena.
The White House said President George W. Bush had asked the Justice Department to be “fully responsive” to the request, and a spokesman said the department was hoping to reach an accommodation with Congress.
The House of Representatives and the Senate are investigating the Bush administration’s dismissal last year of the eight U.S. attorneys.
While the administration has insisted the firings were justified, Republican and Democratic critics question if the dismissals were politically motivated.
Gonzales, who with Bush’s public support has rejected calls to resign, is to appear next week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which plans to authorize subpoenas of its own on Thursday for administration documents.
At the White House, spokeswoman Dana Perino said, “President Bush asked the Department of Justice to be fully responsive to this specific request from Congress” and added the department has already provided more than 3,000 pages of documents.
Asked whether Bush continued to have confidence in Gonzales, Perino replied: “Of course the president still has confidence in the attorney general.”
Justice Department spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said much of the information sought by Congress involved individuals other than the fired prosecutors.
“Because there are individual privacy interests implicated by publicly releasing this information, it is unfortunate the Congress would choose this option,” he said. “We still hope and expect that we will be able to reach an accommodation with the Congress.”
Additional reporting by Tabassum Zakaria and James Vicini