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CHICAGO — U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who was in Chicago yesterday for a discussion of a new public service ad campaign to combat Internet sexual exploitation of teens, cut short a press conference after reporters began grilling him about the firing last year of eight U.S. attorneys. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald hosted a roundtable discussion on the ad campaign that included Gonzales just before the meeting with reporters, but he did not attend the press conference. Gonzales was scheduled to meet with reporters for 15 minutes, but fielded just a few questions and gave 2.5 minutes to 10 TV cameras and 20 reporters assembled. He said that he had made public his involvement in the process that led to the firing of the U.S. attorneys at a press conference earlier this month and that he had released related documents. Gonzales dodged a question on how that squares with his senior counsel, Monica Goodling, yesterday invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination to avoid testifying before a U.S. Senate committee. He said he wouldn’t comment on her decision to “exercise her constitutional right.” Reporters didn’t get a chance to ask him about the mediocre rating given to Fitzgerald in an evaluation last year of all U.S. attorneys that may have contributed to some of the firings.

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