Gonzales gets more time

The Senate postpones the attorney general's testimony; the White House stands by its man.

Published April 17, 2007 12:53PM (EDT)

If you woke up this morning expecting to watch Alberto Gonzales tell the Senate Judiciary Committee about all the things he doesn't remember, then you're going to be in for a bit of a disappointment. Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy has postponed the attorney general's testimony on the prosecutor purge until Thursday.

In a statement, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said that it's "perfectly fitting" to delay the hearing in the wake of the "terrible tragedy" at Virginia Tech. What he didn't say: Democrats surely knew that neither the TV networks nor their viewers would have been paying much attention if the hearing had gone forward as scheduled today.

Although the Justice Department has tried to create low expectations for the attorney general's Senate appearance -- somebody there leaked word last week that Gonzales had performed terribly in a prep session -- the White House is standing by its man. At Monday's White House press briefing, Dana Perino defended Gonzales' handling of the purge and its aftermath by saying, "I think that the attorney general has been perfectly honest." And she's right, in a way: Gonzales has been so "honest" that he has admitted that he wasn't telling the truth when he claimed, in a televised press conference in March, that he was "not involved in any discussions about what was going on [with the firing of U.S. attorneys]."

By Tim Grieve

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

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