July 26th, 2007
03:50 PM ET
3 years ago

FBI director contradicts Gonzales on Ashcroft hospital room

FBI Director Robert Mueller testifies before a House panel Thursday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - FBI Director Robert Mueller told Congress on Thursday that the confrontation in 2004 between then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in Ashcroft's hospital room was over the controversial warrantless surveillance program - in apparent contradiction of Gonzales' Senate testimony on Tuesday .

Mueller said he spoke with Ashcroft shortly after Gonzales left the hospital, and he was told the meeting dealt with "an NSA (National Security Agency) program that has been much discussed, yes."

Mueller made the comment as he testified before the House Judiciary Committee.

In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Gonzales insisted he had visited the ailing Ashcroft in the hospital to discuss "other intelligence activities," not the surveillance program.

Mueller also testified Thursday that he had serious reservations about the warrantless surveillance program at the time of the dramatic internal administration showdown and threats of top-level resignations.

Mueller did not confirm he had threatened to resign, but he twice said he supports the testimony of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who had testified that Gonzales and former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card tried to pressure Ashcroft to reauthorize a surveillance program against terror suspects.

Mueller for the first time publicly confirmed he did dispatch - as Comey had testified - an FBI security detail to the hospital room to ensure that Comey was not removed from the room when Gonzales was there.

–CNN Justice Producer Terry Frieden

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. Jeff, Houston, Texas

    Uh oh. the man from the FBI is questioning the emperor's new clothes. I hope he has enough agents to keep him safe. Yes, that is jsut the kind of state to which i think we are headed under Bush.

    July 27, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  2. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    John from American asks,

    "who do you believe the FBI Director or “I can’t remember” Alberto? The guy with the sworn testimony under oath keeps having different recollections of facts each time he testifies."

    Obviously there are contradictions. From appearances (not being in the senate hearing – not having all the facts – not having heard from John Ashcroft with whom Gonzales HAD the conversation) – I would guess Gonzales is attempting to parse his words.

    However – the investigation is still ongoing, Mr Ashcroft hasn't spoken up, and until the matter has been fully explored we can only GUESS Gonzales is not telling the truth.

    That is unless Mr Gonzales called you last night and confessed something, John?

    Oh..and to respond to your "Jon oh Jon". Your propensity to jump to conclusions and flail around doesn't intimidate those who calmly and rationally seek the truth. Your antics only magnify your prejudices.

    July 27, 2007 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  3. John from America

    Jon from Sacramento – you conveniently forget that John Ashcroft wasn't the only person in the hospital room – and all of the others contradict Gonzales's "moving" testimony! And there is no guessing about Gonzales telling the truth – look at the sworn testimony! If you can't see the lies and deceptions then who is showing their prejudice? Jon – Seems like your stuck backing a criminal one of many in this Bush administration! And btw that wasn't me with the Jon oh Jon comment.

    July 28, 2007 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
1 2