It's shaping up as perhaps the most crucial piece of testimony from Alberto Gonzales today in his appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In explaining why he and then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card made a dramatic visit to the hospital bedside of a seriously ill Attorney General John Ashcroft, Gonzales points to a key meeting earlier that same day, March 10, 2004.
At that meeting, according to Gonzales, the bipartisan group of congressional leaders known as the Gang of Eight, which oversees the most sensitive aspects of the intelligence community, demanded that a top secret surveillance program (widely believed to be the NSA's warrantless wiretapping program) be continued despite the refusal of the Department of Justice to sign off on the legality of the program.
It was upon that basis, Gonzales says, that he and Card went to Ashcroft to present him with this important new information.
But tonight Democratic leaders who were at that meeting dispute Gonzales' version of events. Spencer Ackerman is reporting that Tom Daschle and Nancy Pelosi, at the time the Democratic minority leaders in the Senate and House respectively, dispute Gonzales' account. The Washington Post is likewise reporting that Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), the ranking member on the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time, strongly takes issue with Gonzales' version of events.
Why would an embattled attorney general whose credibility is in tatters spin a version of events that others are in a position to debunk? That's not clear at this point. But if it comes down to which version of events to believe, who is going to believe Alberto Gonzales?