Two U.S. congressional committees have issued subpoenas to former White House counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor, for testimony about their roles in the controversial firings of eight federal attorneys last year.
The Senate and House judiciary committee subpoenas are likely to prompt confrontation and a possible court fight between Congress and President Bush, who has vowed to oppose any attempt to force current or former White House aides to provide sworn testimony.
Both judiciary committees also have asked for additional White House documents related to their probe of whether senior Bush administration officials dictated which federal prosecutors the Justice Department should fire.
Newly released Justice Department documents have revealed that Sara Taylor was closely involved in those firings.
Earlier this week, Republicans blocked a Democratic attempt in the Senate to win a vote of no confidence against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who has provided shifting explanations for the firings.
Many lawmakers believe the prosecutors' dismissals were politically motivated, and some have accused the White House of direct involvement.
President Bush has repeatedly expressed support for his attorney general, and has criticized Democrats for engaging in what he calls "grand political theater."
Democrats in Congress also are investigating how politics affected hiring decisions at the Justice Department. A former Gonzales aid, Monica Goodling, testified that she considered the party affiliation of applicants for career positions at the department - violating a law that prohibits federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity.
Some information for this report was provided by AP.