While the House is consumed by the failure to pass the bailout bill, several senators on the Judiciary Committee have had a chance to respond to the DOJ report on the U.S. attorney firings, released this morning. Here's a rundown on what some of them have said:
Judiciary chair Pat Leahy (D-VT) said in a statement: "This report might have told us even more if the investigation had not been impeded by the Bush administration's refusal to cooperate and provide documents and witnesses, just as they remain in contempt of Congress for failing to cooperate with the Judiciary Committee's investigation," Leahy said. "In this debacle as in others, the Bush administration's self-serving secrecy has shrouded many of their most controversial policies -- from torture, to investigating the causes of 9/11, to wiretapping."
Leahy also said he intended to look into former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' testimony to Congress about the firings, for evidence of possible perjury. And he warned that if President Bush chose to pardon anyone ultimately convicted of a crime in connection with the firings, such a move would be seen by the nation as an admission of wrongdoing.
Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), the ranking minority member on the committee told reporters that there's no indication that the White House is planning such pardons, but said he'd be quick to push back if it did.
At a press conference, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), a former U.S. attorney himself, questioned the effectiveness of the investigation to be led by federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy. He said that it's unclear whether Dannehy will have the power to subpoena White House officials, and whether her probe would focus narrowly on the question of whether a crime was committed by Gonzales and his deputies, rather than being able to look at a possible cover-up by the administration. Whitehouse asserted: "There is a cover-up, and it continues."
Whitehouse also singled out Mukasey for blame, noting that the DOJ's own Office of Legal Counsel has not cooperated with the report. "If he's willing to accept a White House cover-up, if he's willing to accept the inspector general being hindered, then we, I think, should have further questions of the attorney general," Whitehouse said.
Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) , who received an anonymous tip in January 2007 that led to the investigation, wrote in a press release: "The Inspector General report released today confirms our worst fears, and makes it clear that this was a scandal that went to the highest levels of the Department of the Justice, and that the role of the White House was in fact prominent."