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House Democrats Press Gonzales for Answers on Attorney Firings


House Democrats are pressing for answers from Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the controversial firings of eight U.S. prosecutors late last year.

Gonzales is testifying in front of the House Judiciary Committee in Washington Thursday. He made clear from the outset that his "feelings and recollections have not changed" since his testimony to a Senate committee three weeks ago, where he answered dozens of times that he could not recall key details about the firings.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers, a Democrat, said doubts about the Justice Department's reputation for integrity and independence will persist until Congress finds out how and why the list of U.S. attorneys to be fired was created.

Several Republicans on the House committee called for an end to the congressional probe into the firings. Ranking Republican member Lamar Smith said Congress should not conduct an endless fishing expedition to try and find wrongdoing.

U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president, but it is unusual for them to be fired without a reason during the middle of a presidential term. Critics charge the prosecutors were fired for partisan political reasons and that top White House officials were deeply involved.

President Bush has repeatedly reaffirmed his support for his attorney general in the face of calls from senators from both parties for Gonzales to resign.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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