Leahy says Bush administration should be held accountable for firings

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(Host) A criminal investigation will be conducted into the Bush administration’s firings of nine U.S. attorneys two years ago.

Senator Patrick Leahy says the Senate Judiciary Committee wants anyone who was responsible for the dismissals to be held accountable.

Todd Zwillich has this report.

(Zwillich) Leahy’s committee held a series of hearings into the firings last year. In one, then-Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez repeatedly said he did not recall key details of how or why the attorneys were fired.

Current Attorney General Michael Mukasey has appointed a special counsel to pursue possible criminal charges. Leahy sent a message to the White House from his press conference podium.

(Leahy) "I want to warn the president that the American people will see any misuse of the pardon power or any grant of clemency or immunity to those from his administration involved in the U.S. attorney firing scandal as an admission of wrongdoing, a misuse of power."

(Zwillich) The report does not recommend Gonzales as the target of a criminal investigation. Pennsylvania Republican Arlen Specter is the Judiciary Committee ranking member.

(Specter) "I think it’s important that we not politicize it any more than it already has been politicized."

(Zwillich) The special counsel’s investigation is expected to reach to the White House and to Capitol Hill.

From Capitol News Connection, I’m Todd Zwillich for VPR News.

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