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Report: Bush ‘Personally Directed’ Gonzales To Strong-Arm Ashcroft At His Bedside

By Satyam Khanna  

"Report: Bush ‘Personally Directed’ Gonzales To Strong-Arm Ashcroft At His Bedside"

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In his May 2007 testimony, describing the infamous strong-arming of John Ashcroft done by Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales to reauthorize Bush’s surveillance program, former Deputy Attorney General James Comey said he believed President Bush made a call to Ashcroft’s wife:

COMEY: Mrs. Ashcroft reported that a call had come through, and that as a result of that call Mr. Card and Mr. Gonzales were on their way to the hospital to see Mr. Ashcroft.

SCHUMER: Do you have any idea who that call was from?

COMEY: I have some recollection that the call was from the president himself.

Days later, Bush dodged the question about his involvement in the matter, stating, “There’s a lot of speculation about what happened and what didn’t happen. I’m not going to talk about it.” Yesterday, however, Murray Waas wrote at The Atlantic that Alberto Gonzales is now telling investigators that Bush was directly involved:

According to people familiar with statements recently made by Gonzales to federal investigators, Gonzales is now saying that George Bush personally directed him to make that hospital visit. … Gonzales has painted a picture of Bush as being very much involved when it came to his administration’s surveillance program.

The revelations come as Gonzales refused to tell the Senate in 2007 who sent him to the bedside of Ashcroft, repeatedly asserting, “We were there on behalf of the president of the United States.” Watch it, via TPM:

Vice President Cheney has also dodged whether he sent Gonzales and Card to the hospital, telling Larry King in July 2007, “I don’t recall that I was the one who sent them to the hospital.” “In describing Bush as having pressed him to engage in some of the more controversial actions regarding the warrantless surveillance program, Gonzales and his legal team are apparently attempting to lessen his own legal jeopardy,” Wass writes.

If Bush did make the call to strong-arm Ashcroft and overrule Comey’s assertion that the wiretapping program was not legal, it should not come as a surprise. Newsweek reported in January 2006, Bush was “miffed” at Comey for not being a “team player” on surveillance.

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