by S-Q @ 9:30 AM MDT
"United States Attorneys may serve at the pleasure of the president, but justice does not serve at the pleasure of the president, or any president," Senator Patrick Leahy said.
Leahy was followed by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who assailed the Bush administration for downplaying the significance of the events.
"Just 7 weeks ago, the Department of Justice insisted we were making a big deal out of nothing," he said, and then noted the resignations of Sampson, other officials, as well as the decision by another Justice official, Monica Goodling, to plead her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
He then noted that White House aide Karl Rove and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had been directly implicated in the firing of the attorneys, and charged the Bush administration with dissembling.
"The list of contradictions, contortions, and distortions grows longer everyday," he warned.
Schumer insisted that today's hearing was not a partisan exercise.
"The purpose is not gotcha. The purpose is, as they said in Dragnet, 'just the facts ma'am.'"