Bunkered Up, Gonzales Preps for Testimony

Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales is holed up this week, phoning more than a dozen Republican lawmakers to solicit support and intensively practicing his testimony about the firings of eight U.S. Attorneys in recent months.

He’s blocked off three days next week to run through mock question-and-answer sessions with staffers, the Washington Post reports. He’s scheduled to testify before the Senate on April 12 and 17, in the wake of calls that he resign.

“We are hampered because some senior officials are not able to discuss the facts as they know them in the same room, for fears of additional accusations of misleading Congress,” an anonymous Justice Department official told the paper.

The firewalls between witnesses “just compounds the difficulty facing any witness in this situation,” former senator Daniel R. Coats (R-Ind.), who led confirmation preparations for Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. and former White House counsel Harriet E. Miers, says. “You don’t have the ability to coordinate with other organizations or individuals that are going to be testifying, and there will be a lot of people looking for inconsistencies. It is no small challenge for the attorney general.”

According to Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff, early prep efforts, at least, weren’t going well. As he describes one session: “Gonzales kept contradicting himself and ‘getting his timeline confused,’ said one participant who asked not to be identified talking about a private meeting.”

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