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Republican Senator Says Gonzales May Resign Before Confidence Vote

The top Republican senator on the committee investigating U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he believes Gonzales might step down before a no-confidence vote planned this week by opposition Democrats.

In a television interview Sunday, Senator Arlen Specter said he expects a number of Republicans will join the Democrats in a "very substantial" vote against Gonzales, if the measure comes to the Senate floor.

Specter says he thinks Gonzales will resign in preference to having such a mark on his record.

At the White House Sunday, a spokesman said senators discussing a no-confidence vote could use a refresher course in American government. No-confidence votes are found in parliamentary systems, spokesman Tony Fratto said, not the American system of separate executive, judicial and legislative branches [of government].

President Bush has expressed his support for the attorney general repeatedly since controversy arose over Gonzales' role in the firing of eight federal prosecutors. Gonzales and other senior Justice Department officials say the prosecutors' dismissal was proper. Critics, however, contend the eight U.S. attorneys were targeted for partisan political reasons, and that the White House was involved.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.