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Monday, March 12, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Rove funneled Justice complaints

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The White House acknowledged Sunday that presidential adviser Karl Rove served as a conduit for complaints to the Justice Department about federal prosecutors who were later fired for what critics charge were partisan political reasons.

House investigators Sunday declared their intention to question Rove about any role he may have played in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys. Among those fired was John McKay of Seattle.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Rove had relayed complaints from Republican officials and others to the Justice Department and the White House counsel's office. She said Rove, the chief White House political adviser, specifically recalled passing along complaints about former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias and may have mentioned the grumblings about Iglesias to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Iglesias says he believes he lost his job as the top federal prosecutor in New Mexico after rebuffing Republican pressure to speed his investigation of a Democratic state official.

Perino said Rove might have mentioned the complaints about Iglesias "in passing" to Gonzales. Perino said Rove told her he did not suggest any of the eight U.S. attorneys be forced to resign.

The new details about Rove's involvement emerged as the top Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee declared their interest in talking to him.

The committee is trying to determine whether the firings were part of an effort to exert political control over federal prosecutors.

Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., and Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Calif., confirmed their plans after McClatchy Newspapers reported Saturday that New Mexico's Republican Party chairman, Allen Weh, had complained to Rove and one of Rove's deputies about Iglesias.

"Mr. Conyers and Ms. Sanchez intend to talk with Karl Rove about any role he may have had in the firing of the U.S. attorneys," Sanchez spokesman James Dau said.

Perino said Rove routinely passed along complaints about various U.S. attorneys to the Justice Department and then-White House counsel Harriet Miers.

Among the complaints that Rove relayed were concerns among Republican Party officials in various jurisdictions that the Justice Department was not being aggressive in pursuing allegations of election fraud by Democrats. Such allegations by Republicans were a particular concern in New Mexico and Washington state.

Sen. Schumer calls

for Gonzales to resign

WASHINGTON — The Senate's No. 3 Democrat said Sunday that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should resign because he is putting politics above the law. Sen. Charles Schumer cited the Justice Department's firing of federal prosecutors and the FBI's improper use of administrative subpoenas to obtain people's telephone records and other sensitive data.

Schumer, D-N.Y., said Gonzales repeatedly has shown more allegiance to President Bush than to citizens' legal rights since taking his job in early 2005. He called Gonzales, a former White House counsel, one of the most political attorneys general in recent history.

"Attorney General Gonzales is a nice man, but he either doesn't accept or doesn't understand that he is no longer just the president's lawyer, but has a higher obligation to the rule of law and the Constitution even when the president should not want it to be so," Schumer said.

Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said Gonzales' resignation was a "question for the president and the attorney general."

"I do think there have been lots of problems," said Specter, who last week suggested that a Gonzales tenure may have run its course. "Before we come to conclusions, I think we need to know more facts."

Schumer and Specter spoke on "Face the Nation."

The Associated Press

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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