House panel OKs subpoenas of Bush aides

March 21, 2007 at 5:34 pm Leave a comment

ABC NEWS

Mar 21, 2007 — WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Democratic-led congressional panel defied President George W. Bush on Wednesday and authorized legal orders for several White House aides to testify under oath about the firing of eight U.S. prosecutors.

Heading toward a high-stakes showdown, a House of Representatives Judiciary subcommittee agreed on a voice vote to authorize subpoenas if Karl Rove, Bush’s senior political adviser, and others refuse to testify voluntarily under oath.

The action came a day after 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.

Democratic Rep. John Conyers of Michigan, chairman of the full Judiciary Committee, said he hoped the White House and Congress could reach an agreement to avoid a confrontation.

“I hope we can work this out,” said Conyers, adding in a brief interview after the 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,” Conyers 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.”

Recent disclosures about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys has ignited a firestorm over whether the prosecutors were pushed out for political reasons and has prompted calls for U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign.

Bush has reaffirmed support in 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 he stepped aside.

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