At a news conference this afternoon, four members of the Senate Judiciary Committee called for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate Alberto Gonzales on perjury charges.
Sens. Charles Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Russ Feingold, and Sheldon Whitehouse explained in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement that “it has become apparent that the Attorney General has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements” to the Judiciary Committee. They wrote:
We ask that you immediately appoint an independent special counsel from outside the Department of Justice to determine whether Attorney General Gonzales may have misled Congress or perjured himself in testimony before Congress.
Yesterday, the AP revealed documentary evidence that contradicted Gonzales’ sworn testimony regarding the NSA warrantless wiretapping program. Gonzales had said a White House intelligence briefing in 2004 were in regards to “other intelligence activities.” Then-National Intelligence Director John Negroponte confirmed in a May 2006 memorandum that the meeting was in fact about the NSA program.
Yesterday on MSNBC’s Countdown, Sen. Patrick Leahy urged Gonzales to look back at the transcript of his testimony and correct the record. Instead, Gonzales and the White House have refused to concede any errors. On Wednesday night, the Justice Department said Gonzales “stands by” his Senate testimony. White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said, “The attorney general was speaking consistently. The president supports him.”
At a press conference this afternoon, Schumer said Gonzales has violated his constitutional oath:
He took an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Instead he tells the half truth, the partial truth, and everything but the truth. And he does it not once, not twice, but over and over and over again. His instinct is not to tell the truth, but to dissemble and deceive.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) previously suggested the possibility of appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the U.S. attorney scandal.
UDPATE: A copy of the letter can be found here.
UPDATE II: Sen. Feingold: “Based on what we know and the evidence about what happened in terms of the gang of eight and what he said in that sworn testimony in the committee, I believe it’s perjury.”