Alberto Gonzales came under increasing pressure to resign as US attorney-general on Sunday after fresh documents appeared to undermine his account of his role in the controversial sackings of eight US attorneys.

Dianne Feinstein, a senior Democrat on the Senate judiciary committee, said she had concluded Mr Gonzales had not told the truth about the dismissals, saying: ”I believe he should step down.”

E-mail and documents released by the justice department appeared to contradict Mr Gonzales’ earlier claim that he did not take part in discussions about a plan to fire the eight attorneys, showing he attended at least two meetings about the plan.

The increasing doubts about official credibility raise the likelihood of a constitutional battle between the Bush administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress over a demand for sworn testimony from senior White House officials – including strategist Karl Rove.

Democrats allege that the sackings were politically motivated and accuse the administration of making misleading statements about the way the dismissals were handled.

The latest release of documents late on Friday night also eroded support for Mr Gonzales among Congressional Republicans.

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel said the attorney general had ”a credibility problem”.

Arlen Specter, the ranking Republican on the Senate judiciary committee, said: ”We have to have an attorney general who is candid and truthful. And if we find out he’s not been candid and truthful, that’s a very compelling reason for him not to stay on.”

But Mr Specter said he would withhold judgment until the attorney-general testified before the judiciary committee later this month in what he called a ”make or break” appearance.

The committee will also hear this week from Kyle Sampson, the former chief of staff to Mr Gonzales who recently stepped down over the scandal.

The White House rejected calls for Mr Gonzales to step down.

Dan Bartlett, White House counselor, said: ”The president continues to support the attorney-general.”

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