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Schumer Asking Cheney:
Who Sent Gonzales to Ashcroft's Hospital Room?

May 20, 2007 (EIRNS)—Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) wants to know if Vice President Dick Cheney or his lawyer David Addington sent then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales to John Ashcroft's Intensive Care Unit bedside in March 2004 to attempt to get him to sign off on the White House's illegal domestic surveillance program. Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Schumer referred to the testimony of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey last week, and said: "Mr. Comey mentioned Vice President Cheney and David Addington, the chief of staff for the Vice President as on the other side. I'm sending letters today to the President, to Vice President Cheney, to Mr. Addington, asking them if they sent Gonzales there, or if they know who it is who did it, because the Justice Department's own Office of Legal Counsel said that this program was being done illegally."

Appearing on CBS's "Face the Nation," Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was asked what was in the authorization that Ashcroft and Comey refused to sign. Feinstein replied that "apparently, the program as originally designed was even broader than what was subsequently developed." But as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee as well as the Judiciary Committee, Feinstein emphasized that she is not permitted to discuss what she's been told about the program.

Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also appearing on CBS, reiterated that he is not calling for Gonzales's resignation (because of separation-of-powers concerns), but he indicated that he would vote for a resolution of no confidence, and said the Justice Department and the country would be better off if Gonzales left. Specter said he expects that many Republicans would join in a resolution of no confidence, but he doesn't think it will come to that, believing that some time before the vote is taken, Gonzales may step down.

"It's a very forceful historical statement," Specter said. "Votes of no confidence are extremely rare. More than a century ago, one was levelled against a sitting President." This is really something Gonzales would like to avoid, Specter suggested, adding that if Gonzales sees the likelihood that a substantial vote against him is coming, "he would prefer to avoid that historical black mark."

Specter's historical reference is apparently to an 1886 vote in which, according to the New York Times May 18, the Senate adopted a no confidence resolution against President Grover Cleveland's Attorney General, on the grounds that he had refused to provide documents concerning the firing of a federal prosecutor.