Gonzales headed out?

A timeline of the U.S. attorney scandal

• In December 2006, eight U.S. attorneys were fired by the Justice Department without any explanation. It later emerged that the fired federal prosecutors were engaged in corruption investigations of Republican officials or had refused to pursue investigations of Democrats that would have helped Republicans in the November elections.

• During a Jan. 18 Senate hearing, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisted the firings were for performance reasons and not for political motives.

• On Feb. 28, fired prosecutor David Iglesias said he received phone calls from two members of Congress pressing him to speed up a probe of New Mexico Democrats before the elections.

• On March 6 the House Judiciary Committee held hearings.

• On March 14, the White House offered an additional reason for the firings: lax voter-fraud investigations.

• On March 15 the Senate Judiciary Committee authorized issuance of subpoenas to Justice Department officials.

• On March 19, the White House released 3,000 documents — memos and e-mails — to the House committee.

• Shortly afterward, political bloggers discovered an 18-day gap in the correspondence. It began after an e-mail conversation last fall between Bush counsel Harriet Miers and Sampson on the “USA replacement plan.”

• On March 20, the White House offered Congress private interviews with officials like Karl Rove, Miers and their deputies, but not under oath and with no transcripts. Committee leaders rejected the offer.

• On March 21-22, House and Senate committees authorized their chairs to subpoena White House officials.

• On March 23, the Justice Department released e-mails confirming Gonzales and aides discussed the planned firings on Nov. 27, 2006.

• On March 26, Monica Goodling, senior counselor to Gonzales and Justice Department White House liaison now on an “indefinite leave of absence,” refused to testify before the Senate committee, invoking the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination.

• On March 29, Sampson testified before the Senate committee that Gonzales’ earlier statement that he was not involved in the firings was “inaccurate.”

• Throughout March, Republicans began joining Democrats in calling for Gonzales’ resignation.

• Gonzales is scheduled to testify before the Senate Judciary Committee on April 17.