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Congress demands e-mails; Justice says ask Rove camp

Story Highlights

• Response came after Senate committee wrote angry letter to attorney general
• Letter chastised Alberto Gonzales: "You ignored the subpoena"
• Justice says subpoena yielded only internal memos to Karl Rove
• Ex-Gonzales aide Goodling going before House committee with immunity
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Justice Department on Wednesday told an angry Senate Judiciary Committee chairman it does not have documents described in a subpoena that demands all materials relating to Karl Rove's possible involvement in the U.S. attorney firings.

Instead, it said, Rove's lawyer must have them. Rove is the chief political adviser for President Bush.

The response from a top Justice Department official came just hours after the chairman, Vermont Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy and the panel's top Republican, Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, chastised Attorney General Alberto Gonzales in a letter for ignoring the subpoena's Tuesday deadline. (Read full story)

"You ignored the subpoena, did not come forward today, did not produce the documents, and did not even offer an explanation for your noncompliance," the two senators wrote in the letter, sent Tuesday night.

"The committee intends to get to the truth."

A top Justice Department official responded Wednesday, saying a further Justice Department search yielded only two documents -- internal communications sent to Rove and others about a planned news conference in New Mexico by dismissed U.S. Attorney David Iglesias.

The newly released memo shows that Rove aide Scott Jennings was concerned about allegations Iglesias was politically pressured to resign.

Jennings told Rove and others he doubted "they can make an allegation such as this go away so easily."

In the subpoena, Leahy had demanded all documents in the possession of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who investigated Rove in connection with the disclosure of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame.

But Assistant Attorney General Richard Hertling, Gonzales' top link to Congress, told Leahy a search was conducted and turned up nothing.

"None of those records are responsive to the committee's subpoena. The electronic media was returned to Mr. Rove's counsel, Mr. Robert Luskin, in a sealed condition," Hertling said.

Luskin did not return a call from CNN seeking comment on the matter.

The Justice Department response was issued while Gonzales was in San Antonio, Texas, addressing a closed meeting with all 93 of the nation's U.S. attorneys.

Gonzales' deputy, Paul McNulty, had informed those attorneys Monday that he will be resigning this summer. (Full story)

Two other Gonzales aides, counselor Monica Goodling and chief of staff Kyle Sampson, have also resigned over the controversy.

Goodling, who had invoked the Fifth Amendment rather than answer questions about the attorney firings, will appear before a House committee next week, committee leaders said Wednesday.

Goodling is slated to appear before the House Judiciary Committee on May 23. Members voted in April to offer Goodling immunity from prosecution in exchange for her testimony about the dismissals.

On Wednesday, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska joined calls for Gonzales to resign while Democrats questioned whether Gonzales had misled a Senate committee about the administration's no-warrant eavesdropping program. (Full story)

Justice officials gave no indication that Gonzales signaled any intention of stepping down.

Gonzales has said he wants to put the controversy behind him, but congressional investigators say the basic question behind the firings -- who decided which prosecutors to fire and why -- have yet to be answered.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy, front, and Sen. Arlen Spector say the attorney general has ignored a deadline to provide e-mails.



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