Can Gonzales help himself?

A source says the attorney general flunked a prep session for his upcoming appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Published April 9, 2007 1:32PM (EDT)

While we're counting days, it's probably fair to note that 26 of them have passed since the president said he'd talked to Alberto Gonzales and told him that he needed to "go up to Capitol Hill" and explain what really happened in last year's prosecutor purge.

What's taking so long? Here's one clue from Newsweek's Michael Isikoff: At a March 23 testimony prep session, "Gonzales was grilled by a team of top aides and advisers -- including former Republican National Committee chair Ed Gillespie and former White House lawyer Tim Flanigan -- about what he knew about the plan to fire seven U.S. attorneys last fall. But Gonzales kept contradicting himself and 'getting his timeline confused,' said one participant who asked not to be identified talking about a private meeting. His advisers finally got 'exasperated' with him, the source added. 'He's not ready,' Tasia Scolinos, Gonzales's public-affairs chief, told the A.G.'s top aides after the session was over."

The good news for Gonzales: He's still got more time. The Senate Judiciary Committee isn't expecting him until April 17. The bad news: His support isn't exactly growing in the meantime. Over the weekend, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich added his name to the list of Republicans who've said it's time for Gonzales to go. "I think the country, in fact, would be much better served to have a new team at the Justice Department, across the board," Gingrich said during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday."

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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