GOP freezes 'Attorneygate' hearing in the middle of Republican's statement
Michael Roston
Published: Thursday March 29, 2007
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The second half of the hearing on the firing of 8 US Attorneys with D. Kyle Sampson, former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, screeched to a sudden halt today when Republican senators objected that the hearing violated Senate rules.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, announced that the hearing would need to be frozen while Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) was reading a statement.

"Does that apply to Republicans?" Grassley asked.

"It's the Republicans who want it to stop," Leahy answered.

But the cause of the delay was not clear. A spokeswoman for Senator Arlen Specter, ranking Republican on the Committee, said the hearing would resume.

"It seems that there was confusion as to why and if there was a hold as it came from the cloakrooms," wrote Courtney Boone, Specter's spokeswoman to RAW STORY. "It will be resuming shortly."

A live broadcast on MSNBC explained that Senate rules state that hearings can only occur for a certain number of hours before they must be concluded so that Members will pay attention to activities on the Senate floor.

"Whatever objection there was on the Republican side has been withdrawn," Senator Leahy explained around 2:37 PM. "I've been here 33 years and I've never seen it happen before," he added, referring to the rules objection.

Leahy then said that the hearings cannot be stopped and that he'd hold them on nights and weekends if he needed to.

A Senate Republican Leadership aide later gave an explanation to RAW STORY via e-mail.

"According to the rules, hearings are supposed to end by 2pm without an agreement to the contrary," he said. "As I understand it -- they had to close it down, go behind closed doors and agree to waive that rule.....which they did."