Facing the music (and some skeptical senators) Thursday about the U.S. attorney firing controversy, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales insisted that he had not acted out of any politically motivated impulses or pressures and had nothing to hide about his role in handing eight federal lawyers their pink slips.

New York Times:

“Today, the Department of Justice is experiencing a crisis of leadership perhaps unrivaled during its 137-year history,” said the panel’s chairman, Senator Patrick J. Leahy. “The Department of Justice should never be reduced to another political arm of the White House — this White House or any White House. The Department of Justice must be worthy of its name.”

Mr. Leahy, a Democrat of Vermont, made it clear that he was not persuaded by the repeated assertions from President Bush and his allies that the dismissals of the United States attorneys, who are political appointees and serve at the pleasure of the president, were above board.

“Indeed,” Mr. Leahy said, “the apparent reason for these terminations had a lot more to do with politics than performance.”

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More links:

The Washington Post has posted a video of Gonzales’ opening statements and compiled a list of released documents related to the firings, and Post writer Paul Kane weighed in on the lively exchange between Senator Arlen Spector and Gonzales in his Capitol Briefing blog. (Registration wall)

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