WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, is among a small Democratic group of former prosecutors backing a measure to impeach U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., would urge the House Judiciary Committee to investigate whether Gonzales gave false testimony about warrantless federal wiretaps and the firing of nine U.S. attorneys.
“As a former Attorney General of Kentucky, I believe that this matter must not be taken casually. Impeachment is always a last resort,” Chandler said in a prepared statement. “What we hope to do now is gather the facts which, up to this point, has been very difficult to do.”
Legislators on both sides of the aisle have publicly criticized Gonzales’ responses to the House and Senate Judiciary committees during investigations into the attorney general’s role in the firings.
However, the road to impeachment is fraught with many technical turns.
Inslee’s measure would first have to pass out of the House Judiciary Committee before heading to the House floor for consideration and a vote. The bill would then need a majority of House members to vote to set up a trial by the Senate.
Even after a trial, a two-thirds majority vote from the Senate would still be required to impeach.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary committee, has called the impeachment measure a politically motivated stunt by the Democrats.
“It’s hardly partisans when it was Republicans who were fired by this attorney general,” Inslee said. “…We banded together because we share this strong feeling that as prosecutors we know how important it is that this process not be infected by partisanship… That is a deadly cocktail for democracy.”
Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for Gonzales, told the Associated Press that it was “unfortunate that confusion exists, but not surprising since such discussions in a public forum involve complicated classified activities, where the greatest care must be used not to compromise sensitive intelligence operations.”
Gonzales “would not and has not ever intentionally misled Congress,” Roehrkasse said.The Associated Press contributed to this report.