Some Democratic House members &
including several former prosecutors &
said Monday they will seek a measure directing the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether to impeach Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., who was a prosecutor in Washington state in the late 1970s and 1980s, is the lead sponsor of the measure.
Co-sponsors of the resolution include Democratic Reps. Xavier Becerra of California, Michael Arcuri of New York, Ben Chandler of Kentucky, Dennis Moore of Kansas, Bruce Braley of Iowa and Tom Udall of New Mexico.
Reps. Earl Blumenauer and Peter DeFazio of Oregon also are co-sponsors, with Blumenauer saying in a statement late Monday that he hopes it serves as "a wake-up call to the entire Bush administration."
The measure, to be introduced Tuesday, comes as Congress and White House aides worked Monday to expand the government's surveillance authority without jeopardizing citizens' rights.
The Bush administration also sought to soothe a sore spot in its relationship with lawmakers over a related matter &
whether Gonzales misled a Senate panel about internal dissent concerning the surveillance program, which nearly prompted mass resignations at the Justice Department.
Lawmakers from both parties have questioned Gonzales' truthfulness. Democrats and some Republicans have openly accused him of helping Bush exploit executive power at the expense of civil liberties and possibly beyond the law on an array of matters including secretive surveillance.
Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for Gonzales, said it was "unfortunate that confusion exists, but not surprising since such discussions in a public forum involve complicated classified activities, where the greatest care must be used not to compromise sensitive intelligence operations."
Gonzales "would not and has not ever intentionally misled Congress," Roehrkasse said.
White House spokesman Tony Fratto called the Democratic measure the "partisan attack of the day," and added: "Democrats are running through their list of partisan stunts &
subpoenas, investigations, hearings, special prosecutors, contempt, no confidence votes to get headlines. Americans are tired of these partisan antics."
Inslee denied the move was a partisan stunt, and said he has long been critical of Gonzales, from the mass firing of U.S. attorneys &
including Seattle-based John McKay &
to the current controversy over surveillance programs.
"It's indefensible to allow the continued violation of American privacy, and it's indefensible to treat the truth with such cavalier disregard when talking to the American people and Congress," Inslee said. "So if the president won't do his job (and fire Gonzales) we'll do ours."
Efforts underway to impeach Gonzales