STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
Unidentified Female: (unintelligible)
ARI SHAPIRO: For weeks that have turned into months, these protesters from a group Code Pink have shown up on Mondays and Fridays here in front of the Justice Department to protest and call on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KISS HIM GOODBYE")
LIZ HOURICAN: (Singing) Na, na, na, na, Alberto, resign.
SHAPIRO: You clearly want him to resign. Realistically speaking, do you think he'll resign?
HOURICAN: Realistically, I don't imagine he will resign.
SHAPIRO: Republican lobbyist Ed Rogers is not particularly impressed with the attorney general, but he doesn't think there's any point in Congress holding this hearing, either.
ED ROGERS: Nobody thinks this is consequential. Nobody thinks the attorney general's job is on the line. So it's just kind of going to be more of the same, and the Democrats and their sympathizers will have more to snicker about, but nothing will come of it.
SHAPIRO: So why have the hearing at all? Vermont Democrat Patrick Leahy is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
PATRICK LEAHY: I think that I would not be doing my duty if I didn't get to the bottom of it and hopefully point out enough so that the next attorney general, whoever he or she might be, will never make these mistakes again.
SHAPIRO: Leahy criticized Gonzales after the last hearing for repeatedly answering questions with I don't know, and, I don't remember.
LEAHY: His credibility is almost nil here at the Capitol. So what I've done, I sent him a series of questions in advance. He's had plenty of time to look them over. There'll be no excuse to say I don't know, I don't remember.
SHAPIRO: But isn't this sort of like that old quote that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result?
INSKEEP: Well, I don't know whether I caught that, but this is a case of trying to get the answers. And I hope that he'd take the opportunity to begin to repair the damage by answering questions of both Republicans and Democrats.
SHAPIRO: This hearing brings a whole new set of questions from the last one. The contradictions are enough to make your eyes cross. First Gonzales told senators...
ALBERTO GONZALES: I haven't talked to witnesses...
SHAPIRO: But then his counsel, Monica Goodling, said...
MONICA GOODLING: He laid out for me his general recollection...
SHAPIRO: Harvard law professor David Barron says even if Gonzales can't sort out these contradictions, there's still value in holding the hearing.
DAVID BARRON: If you have very serious questions about the rule of law and the confidence in the department, and the president simply disregards them, for no one to continue pushing and to make that clear that a certain standard is expected of the department would, I think, be a very serious loss for the country.
SHAPIRO: Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
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