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Bush aides ordered to testify
Showdown looms over claims that prosecutors were fired for political reasons.
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2007 12:03 GMT
Pressure is mounting on Gonzales, right, to quit
over the scandal [EPA]

A US congressional panel has authorised legal orders for several White House aides to testify under oath about the firing of eight prosecutors.

 

A House of Representati

The action came a day after George Bush vowed to oppose any subpoenas. He offered instead to allow aides to answer questions from investigators, but only behind closed doors, not under oath and with no transcript taken of their exchanges.
 
Democrats called the offer unacceptable.

Deepening scandal

 

Recent disclosures about the firings of eight US attorneys have ignited a firestorm over whether the prosecutors were pushed out for political reasons and have prompted calls for Alberto Gonzales, the attorney general, to resign.

 

John Conyers of Michigan, a Democratic representative and chairman of the full judiciary committee, said he hoped that the White House and congress could reach an agreement to avoid a confrontation.

   

"I hope we can work this out," Conyers said. He said in a brief interview after Wednesday's vote that he planned to talk to the White House again later in the day.

   

"Sometimes things look gloomy and then all of a sudden they look better," he said.

 

But Bush appeared to be in no mood to compromise on Tuesday, saying he would oppose any effort to drag aides to Capitol Hill for a "show trial".

 

"I will oppose any attempts to subpoena White House officials," Bush said.

 

Bush has reaffirmed his support of Gonzales, but a few of his fellow Republicans in congress have joined a number of Democrats in saying the administration would be better off if Gonzales stepped aside.

 

Several lawyers removed by the US justice department headed by Gonzales have said that they were sacked after refusing to launch what they say were politically-motivated corruption inquiries involving Democrats.

Source:
Agencies
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