“Rare and Titillating”

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Not a phrase you normally see in a New York Times account of a congressional hearing. But James Comey was indeed a spellbinder today on Capitol Hill. NYT account by David Stout begins:

WASHINGTON, May 15 — On the night of March 10, 2004, a high-ranking Justice Department official rushed to a Washington hospital to prevent two White House aides from taking advantage of the critically ill Attorney General, John Ashcroft, the official testified today.

One of those aides was Alberto R. Gonzales, who was then White House counsel and eventually succeeded Mr. Ashcroft as Attorney General.

“I was very upset,” said James B. Comey, who was deputy Attorney General at the time, in his testimony today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I was angry. I thought I had just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers of the attorney general because they had been transferred to me.”

The hospital visit by Mr. Gonzales and Andrew H. Card Jr., who was then White House chief of staff, has been disclosed before, but never in such dramatic, personal detail. Mr. Comey’s account offered a rare and titillating glimpse of a Washington power struggle, complete with a late-night showdown in the White House after a dramatic encounter in a darkened hospital room — in short, elements of a potboiler paperback novel.

You can read the rest of it here.

UPDATE: For those of you who like your titillation unfiltered, here’s the actual testimony via Salon.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Commenter Franco’s post reminds me: We do indeed have a story on Time.com regarding the fallout from Deputy AG Paul McNulty’s resignation, including Gonzales’ comments this morning placing blame for the USA mess on his departing deputy.