During Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, a freshman Democratic Senator stumped Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on how Vice President Dick Cheney, his chief of staff, and counsel, had been granted authority parallel with the President on intervening in pending matters at the Justice Department.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) questioned the Attorney General about the independence of the Justice Department and communications with the White House on pending cases or investigations.
He then pointed to a May 4, 2006 memorandum signed by Gonzales which showed that the Office of the Vice President had been granted parallel privileges with the Executive Office of the President on communicating directly with the Justice Department's staff on criminal and civil matters.
"What -- on earth -- business does the Office of the Vice President have in the internal workings of the Department of Justice with respect to criminal investigations, civil investigations, and ongoing matters?" the Senator asked.
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