Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has retreated from public view this week in an intensive effort to save his job, spending hours practicing testimony and phoning lawmakers for support in preparation for pivotal appearances in the Senate starting next week, reports the Washington Post. After struggling for weeks to explain the extent of his involvement in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, Gonzales and his aides are viewing the Senate testimony on April 12 and 17 as seriously as if it were a confirmation proceeding for a Supreme Court or a Cabinet appointment.
Ed Gillespie, former Republican National Committee chairman, and Timothy Flanigan, who worked for Gonzales at the White House, have met with him to plot strategy. The department has scheduled three days of rigorous mock testimony sessions next week and Gonzales has called more than a dozen GOP lawmakers seeking support. He is trying to convince skeptical lawmakers that he can be trusted to command the Justice Department after the prosecutor firings, which he first described as an “overblown personnel matter.” Documents and testimony from his former chief of staff have shown that Gonzales was regularly briefed on the process, revelations that have led to calls for his resignation. Democrats have also accused Justice officials of misleading Congress in testimony, leading Justice lawyers to insist on limiting contact between key players to avoid allegations of obstructing a congressional investigation.