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Alberto Gonzales Speaks

In his piece today in the Washington Post, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales explains that he did nothing improper. Here's part of what he wrote:

My decision some months ago to privately seek the resignations of a small number of U.S. attorneys has erupted into a public firestorm. First and foremost, I appreciate the public service of these fine lawyers and dedicated professionals, each of whom served his or her full four-year term as U.S. attorney. I apologize to them, their families and the thousands of dedicated professionals at the Justice Department for my role in allowing this matter to spin into an undignified Washington spectacle.


What began as a well-intentioned management effort to identify where, among the 93 U.S. attorneys, changes in leadership might benefit the department, and therefore the American people, has become an unintended public controversy.

While I accept responsibility for my role in commissioning this management review process, I want to make some fundamental points abundantly clear.

I know that I did not -- and would not -- ask for the resignation of any U.S. attorney for an improper reason. Furthermore, I have no basis to believe that anyone involved in this process sought the removal of a U.S. attorney for an improper reason.

[...]

While I have never sought to deceive Congress or the American people, I also know that I created confusion with some of my recent statements about my role in this matter. To be clear: I directed my then-deputy chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, to initiate this process; fully knew that it was occurring; and approved the final recommendations. Sampson periodically updated me on the review. As I recall, his updates were brief, relatively few in number and focused primarily on the review process.

During those conversations, to my knowledge, I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign.

I am committed to explaining my role in this process and will do so Tuesday when I testify before Congress.

I am also committed to correcting any management missteps that occurred during this process. In recent weeks I have met with more than 70 U.S. attorneys around the country to hear their concerns and discuss ways to improve communication and coordination between their offices and the Justice Department.

These discussions have been frank, and good ideas are coming out, including ways to ensure that every U.S. attorney can know whether his or her performance is at the level expected by the president and the attorney general. Additionally, I have asked for recommendations on formal and informal steps that we can take to improve all forms of dialogue between the main Justice Department and U.S. attorneys nationwide.

Link via Lucianne.


Comments (32)

Republicans have a rich his... (Below threshold)
Lee:

Republicans have a rich history of deceiving the American public, and this issue is bringing back memories of one of the icons of Republican deceit - Richard Nixon. Apparently Nixon has fans in the White House if, as the saying goes -- imitation is the sincerest form of flattery -- because what we have now is a political move that rivals Nixon's attempts to hide the truth from the American public,.

Rosemary Woods, Nixon's secretary, is believed to be responsible for the erasure of an 18 1/2 minute section of a tape recording of a conservation between President Nixon and his then Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman. That conversation took place just three days after the Watergate break-in, and knowing what transpired during that conservation would have gone a long way towards answering the question of what Nixon knew and when he knew it.

What we have now is missing emails -- four years of missing emails -- and those emails would have gone a long way towards answering the question of what political motivations were behind the firing of the U.S. Attorneys.

We will undoubtedly get to the bottom of this email erasure, and I hope we find an interesting character at the center -- some IT guy who accidentally hit the wrong button just as Rosemary did. After all, we will be hearing about this erasure for months -- let's hope there is some entertainment value in the constant news coverage that will follow.

Lee, if we're not allowed t... (Below threshold)

Lee, if we're not allowed to cite Bill Clinton, how are you entitled to bring up Richard Nixon?

I'm still waiting for an explanation of the underlying crime in the US Attorneys' removal. As Gonzales noted, all had served their full four-year term, and were continuing to serve at the pleasure of the President -- and that pleasure was withdrawn, as is fully legal and proper.

If you wanna bring up "long histories of deceit," Lee, how about LBJ and Gulf and Tonkin? Clinton and "I did not have sexual relations with that woman?" John Kerry's "Christmas in Cambodia?" Ted Kennedy and... well, I can't narrow down to just one. Dianne Feinstein funneling billiions to her husband's companies. William Jefferson Clinton (dang, I thought I'd gotten over that) and his $90,000 in cold, hard cash.

Neither party has a monopoly on sleaze, Lee. Honest people denounce and slam the scumbags, when they're revealed, regardless of party affiliation. Dishonest ones howl and shriek at the offenses of one party, hoping it'll draw attention from their own misdeeds.

It's fairly obvious you fit in the latter, Lee.

Find a new schtick, will ya? That one wore out its entertainment value a long, long time ago.

J.

Find a new schtick... (Below threshold)
Find a new schtick, will ya? That one wore out its entertainment value a long, long time ago.

No kidding, I cringe when a new post is up and wondering if Lee has gotten in his usual checkpoints that denounce Republicans/Conservatives and makes sure it follows his little blueprint he never deviates from.

I could care less about the... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

I could care less about the survival of any U.S. attorney (it seems none of them are doing the job of enforcing the law) and everyone of them now serving will be gone if a dhimmi wins the white house in 08. There was only one survivor the last time a dhimmi dummy took over the white house.

What's the big deal about the nine, other than the dhimmi's have nothing postive to contribute on any level so they go negative on everything the other side does? That isn't accomplishing anything, that proves they have nothing to contribute. The administration didn't tell the world they fired the 9 for not doing they're job, they did it quietly and the dhimmi's couldn't stand it so they made it national news. Now you would have to be a fool to hire any of the nine. You know they can't/won't do the job they are hired for.

100 days of dhimmi power and nothing accomplished other than slime and slander. Funny that the dhimmi's are proud of their failures, one of their talking heads just stated that fact on FOX. 'We haven't accomplished anything' but we've blocked the president and brought out things like the nine attorneys. Her statement, not mine. There in no longer simple BDS, there is total insanity in the entire democrat party.

Scrapiron,I agree ... (Below threshold)
Allen:

Scrapiron,

I agree with you about caring less for them. Yes, they serve at the Presidents desire. Firing them was his right. There is no question about that.

But the released emails that were included in the document dumps prove that certain people were trying to find a good reason for firing them. It wasn't their work that got them fired, it was not being good Bushies, whatever that means, that got them fired.

Why in the hell didn't the DOJ just come out and say they were being released because the President decided to do so. There would have been no questions asked.

I suppose it depends on wha... (Below threshold)
jFO:

I suppose it depends on what he definition of "improper reasons" is. It's an interesting and I'm sure carefully crafted use of a phrase. There certainly is enough evidence out there to have a thorough investigation. Let the chips fall where they may. I agree with Jay that there is a long history of sleaze on both sides and the only important thing is the truth.

"Republicans have a rich hi... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

"Republicans have a rich history of deceiving the American public....".

Lee, please, it's kind early for me on a Sunday. Could you hold the standup comedy for a little later?

My father always told me that BOTH major parties have nothing to brag about. It's just the Democrats don't get caught as much because the media is on their side. I know it's growing old to write that, but so's the Nixon reference. Geesh.

Yes 'serve at the plesure ... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Yes 'serve at the plesure of the President'..But there is supposed to be some firewall between the Oval office and the Justice Department to allow the(largely Republican) Attorneys to carry on their job impartially. But that isn't enough for this administration who in an unprecented way have so politicized, evangelized and demoralised the Justice department; there are now 150 graduates of a Pat Robertson's fourth tier, Regent law school, only accredited in 1996, now working in the Bush administration and the Justice Department. Is this what are Founding Fathers had in mind? when they established the First Amendment..
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."
It is as if Pat Robertson along with Karl Rove, are the real Attorney Generals and not a sock puppet like Gonzales? His questioning on Tuesday under oath, when he is alone in front of the panel, without all the long exhaustive rehersals with his aids, will be interesting.

Yes, they do serve at the p... (Below threshold)
DaveD:

Yes, they do serve at the pleasure of the President. This should have been made clear originally. Period. As seems typical of this particluar administration it does a terrible job of communicating, making relatively innocuous events morph into the unmanageable (like this one). And making simply poor decisions in important situations (the Miers nomination). In light of this the President should not be scratching his head wondering why he can't get a grip on clarifying his foreign policy when playing to a growing skeptical audience. But Mr. Crickmore, you allude to the typical liberal belief that strong religious conviction is equated with stupidity/incompetence. Do you apply your "what the Founding Fathers" intended to all matters political or just those that suit you? If Christian fundamentalism scares you and you fear it could become a growing influence in our government, you can surely understand the concern that others may have about fundamentalism that seems to be having increased influence in other religions.

Crickmore, quote the law th... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

Crickmore, quote the law that establishes a firewall. Where was that firewall when Clinton fired 93 US Attorneys including the one in Arkansas investigateing White Water? What not being a Bushie means that the US Attorneys in question were not prosecuting cases the administartion deemed a priority. Such things as border violations, drug smuggling, voter fraud. You know the stuff the cheif executive wants done. Failure to do that gets you removed. Lee, dig up all of your e-mail concerning your opinion on politics for last year. If I were Bush I would tell them to take a flying fuck at a rolling donut.

It was a blanket denial wit... (Below threshold)
jpe:

It was a blanket denial with no specifics. We'll see how he does in front of the Judiciary Committee.

"Lee, please, it's kind ... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"Lee, please, it's kind early for me on a Sunday. Could you hold the standup comedy for a little later?"

If the White House indeed intentionally destroyed four years of emails, which I strongly suspect is the case (erasing evidence is a Republican tradition) it's certainly not a laughing matter.

If you want humor, watch Gonazales' testimony. Watch him tap dance as he tried to explain away the puppetry of the Attorney General's office on the part of political operatives in the White house. The sideshow -- the investigation and explanations as to exactly how these emails were erased - promises to be even more entertaining...

Many laughs ahead.

Zelda - I currently keep a copy of every email I send -- every one, and I have done that for over five years now.

Yes, they do serve... (Below threshold)
jpe:
Yes, they do serve at the pleasure of the President. This should have been made clear originally.

It was, but it was largely ignored because it's not relevant.

"I cringe when a new post i... (Below threshold)
bryanD:

"I cringe when a new post is up and wondering if...Posted by: Steve of Norway"

You've hitched your wagon to the wrong horse. Unruly horse won't let you enjoy the ride. Might tip wagon. Throw squaw off.

DaveD...strong religious co... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

DaveD...strong religious conviction is fine..but it would seem unfair if that should be a advantage over say a sceptic like Jay Tea.."But in 2001, the Bush administration picked the dean of Regent's government school, Kay Coles James , to be the director of the Office of Personnel Management -- essentially the head of human resources for the executive branch. The doors of opportunity for government jobs were thrown open to Regent alumni."
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III.. Crickmore, quote the law that establishes a firewall. There is probably no law broken unless outright political interference leads to overturning or obstructing certain cases, and unless you consider that Gonzales under oath, said he would not fire anyone for political reasons, bearing
in mind that is a felony, to lie to a congressional committeee. However, do we really want our justice system to be a long arm of a 'unitary executive' where unseasoned but loyal Regent graduates and or Federalist Society members, set agendas for experienced trial Government attorneys, many of whom have become disillusioned and left and these are or were Republican?. Would you have faith, and I use the word deliberately, in your local hospital, if this was the operating norm?

Now the dimmers want to dic... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Now the dimmers want to dictate to republicans what schools staff should be graduates of to work for the government. Wow. Takes big ones to suggest that. Lets see, did Pat Robertson give his students their own private bar exam to practive law in Washington or was it the same test Harvard, Yale, Princeton law graduates take? Hmmm. I wonder? Dimmers, you are becoming even more pathetic then I expected. No law broken. No investigation needed. Just a waste of time and resources. GW should go on and ignore it all. ww

ZRIII,For your inf... (Below threshold)
Allen:

ZRIII,

For your information, Clinton did fire all 93 USA's, and so did Ronnie before him, so what is the difference? Most, if not all Presidents from the other party fire them when they assume office, I'm sure you knew that, put please continue with the SPIN.

No law broken...No inves... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

No law broken...No investigation needed. Ignore it all (as if it never happened)..Just trust us...thats reassuring. Even Gonzale's written statement for Tuesday's Senate Judiciary Committee ends with "We must ensure that all the facts surrounding the situation are brought to full light..." Allen, Dubya is the first to discriminately fire a slew of attorneys * in the middle of his term, as opposed to Clinton, Reagan and Bush himself (I don't know about Bush senior) firing the whole slate at the beginning of their first term of office.

Dubya is the first... (Below threshold)
Dubya is the first to discriminately fire a slew of attorneys * in the middle of his term, as opposed to Clinton, Reagan and Bush himself (I don't know about Bush senior) firing the whole slate at the beginning of their first term of office.

Did he violate a law by doing so?

"Did he violate a law by... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"Did he violate a law by doing so?"

Let's examine the evidence -- oops -- some of it's been erased!Now why would the White House do that...?

And why would Alberto lie?

It turns out that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied to reporters on March 13 about the scandal over the fired prosecutors.

At that time, Gonzales said he "was not involved in any discussions about what was going on" with the firings.

"On Friday night, however, the Justice Department revealed Gonzales's participation in a Nov. 27 meeting where such plans were made," the AP reports.

He was in on a very detailed discussion of a "five-step plan for carrying out the firings of the prosecutors," according to the AP story, which cited Gonzales's aides as well as documents the Justice Department released Friday night.

But this is not the first time the Attorney General has lied.

He also lied--to Congress--back in January 2005, during his confirmation process.

Another question -- why was this Rove's decision? Yes, the President can fire the US Attorneys, but Rove did the firing...

The former chief of staff to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales contradicted Gonzales's assertion that he had not been involved in deliberations about firing eight US attorneys, and testified yesterday that White House political adviser Karl Rove had personally asked Gonzales to fire several US attorneys.

Yes, the President has the right to fire US attorneys, although the reason for the firings in mid-term raises suspicion as to WHY these eight were fired at this particluar time.

And what the frick is Karl Rove doing issuing these orders if it's a Presidential prerogative?

All questions that needs answers... along with the question "How and why were those emails erased"?

You can hunt and find nothi... (Below threshold)
Zelsdorf Ragshaft III:

You can hunt and find nothing. I don't care and it makes no difference what that idiot fucker, Leahy has to say if I had been there I would have bitch slapped the dumb fuck, believes about the e-mails. You lops on the left cannot seem to understand the fact, and I mean fact, that Bush or who ever is President can fire people he hires for any reason. Polical or hair style. It make no difference. We should have the FBI investigate any democrat who fired any staffer. I would like to investigate what the US Attorney found during the White Water investigation he was conducting before he was fired by you idiots hero Bill blowjob Clinton.

Before we get into that, Le... (Below threshold)

Before we get into that, Lee, why don't YOU cite the specific law you think was broken? Oh, I forgot. As far as you are concerned, Republicans are innocent until proven guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt -- and then, they're probably guilty of something else, so hang 'em anyway. So as soon as a Republican does something you don't like, start investigating and don't stop until you get someone convicted of SOMETHING.

Scooter Libby is the perfect example. Fitzpatrick's investigation settled on DAY ONE that there was no crime committed -- Plame was outed by Armitage, and no laws were violated -- but he kept digging and digging until he caught Libby telling two versions of events. So he got convicted of perjury, while Armitage is still free.

To steal a line from Star Trek: The Next Generation, "Just because there was no crime doesn't mean there wasn't a conspiracy!" Could be the Democrats' new motto.

J.

Much has been made of the f... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Much has been made of the fact that attorneys can serve at the presidents pleasure, but can they be fired for any arbitrary reason as Zeldorf states?.Gonzales claims the firings were ' a personnel matter', then it was for 'performance reasons', now he says it was not for 'improper motives'.but what about political pressure from one's own senator, directly to the President,(on a political corruption case)surely that is an improper motive.maybe even illegal .Of course the buck doesn't stop at the President's desk.. March 14 th, Bush: "I don't remember specific names being mentioned, but I did say to Al last year -- you're right, last fall -- I said, have you heard complaints about AGs, I have -- I mean, U.S. attorneys, excuse me -- and he said, I have. But I never brought up a specific case nor gave him specific instructions." Now new evidence from the New Mexico AG case points right to the president. "The available evidence now points strongly to the conclusion that the final decision to fire David Iglesias came from the President of the United States. "

If the administration has s... (Below threshold)
Lee:

If the administration has successfully destroyed the relevant evidence then we may never know what laws have been broken.

What we do know:
Eight U.S. Attorneys were fired mid-term.
Alberto lied.
Rove had a hand in the firings.
Four years of emails have been erased.

We need to find out why. Remember, Nixon kept repeating that he was not a crook, and we now know better, despite the 18 1/2 minute tape section of the recording that was erased. Hopefully we will learn the full truth on this issue as well, despite the lying and destruction of evidence.

This matter won't be resolved on Tuesday - there's lots more investigation needed to get to the bottom of this. Meanwhile, the guilty can continue to proclaim their innocence, just as Richard Nixon did.

Lindsay Graham (R - SC) re: Gonzales' scheduled testimony on Tuesday: "He needs to explain what he did and why he did it." I agree. Gonzales' testimony as released today by the Justice Department is wholly inadequate. Today's testimony is pretty much nothing more than an apology. That's not enough.

Gonzales will tell us on Tuesday that he's innocent, but since he's already been caught lying he'll need to be very convincing.

Why do the authors on this ... (Below threshold)
Linda:

Why do the authors on this site tolerate the kind of language Zelsdorf uses?

Lee, the real suspense will... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Lee, the real suspense will come if Al after hours of preparation and practicing exceeds Kyle Sampson 's record of saying "I can't remember" 122 times..If Bill Clinton had used that defence once, he might once he might have saved himself alot of grief but no one would have believed him?

Did he violate a l... (Below threshold)
jpe:
Did he violate a law by doing so?

Acting scummy isn't illegal (possibility of obstruction of justice notwithstanding). Nonetheless, it may be a good idea for Congress to limit the ability of the President to fire for bad cause during the middle of his/her Presidency.

"...if Al after hours of pr... (Below threshold)

"...if Al after hours of preparation and practicing exceeds Kyle Sampson 's record of saying "I can't remember" 122 times...."

If so, might put him in a league with Hillary's testimony on Rose Law Firm billing records.

Much has been made of th... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

Much has been made of the fact that attorneys can serve at the presidents pleasure, but can they be fired for any arbitrary reason as Zeldorf states?

Yes, they can. The removal provision in the statute is without caveats.

"(c) Each United States attorney is subject to removal by the President."

Wavemaker, that's why I sai... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Wavemaker, that's why I said Bill Clinton.
Taltos, that's true it seems that attorneys can be fired for any reason, but allow me to crib from a blog"One of the main issues that ignited the attorney purge scandal was the controversial Patriot Act provision the administration was using -- despite sworn testimony by DoJ officials that they weren't using it -- that allowed the President to appoint "interim" USAs for an indefinite amount of time. Despite the administrations "good faith promise" not to abuse the loophole, the emails revealed that they planned to "gum it out" until Bush left office, thereby leaving the interim, unconfirmed apointees in place for the rest of his term. Today, (March 20) the Senate restored the traditional process by a vote of 94-2."...This whole atorney scandal if you will, is about 'good faith', intergrity, fairness on one hand and a lack of (well you fill in the blanks)...The American people understand this, even if no laws were broken, in the original firings. Remember Watergate was not so much about a third-rate burglarly that Nixon had no knowledge about beforehand, but the cover-up..and Clinton's impeacment scandal was about consensual sex that he vehemently denied.

Fitzpatrick's investigat... (Below threshold)
sean nyc/aa:

Fitzpatrick's investigation settled on DAY ONE that there was no crime committed -- Plame was outed by Armitage, and no laws were violated -- but he kept digging and digging until he caught Libby telling two versions of events. So he got convicted of perjury, while Armitage is still free.
Jay Tea

I did this on a post a few weeks ago, but I'll summarize the timeline as I remember it.

Oct 2, 2003 - Armitage talks w/ FBI.
Oct ~14, 2003 - Libby talks w/ FBI.
Dec 30, 2003 - Fitzgerald appointed special prosecutor.

So Fitz learned Armitage's and Libby's stories at the same time, ie when he first started, and conducted the investigation to confirm each one's side. Armitage's story checked out, while Libby was lying from the start (to cover for Cheney). Fitz did not have to "dig" for anything, Libby dug his own grave.

Steve:The notion t... (Below threshold)
Taltos:

Steve:

The notion that the congressional hearings about all of this nonsense have anything to do with integrity is laughable. It's a politically driven ploy by the democrats to try and tar the president. Granted much of the furor over the whole thing is due to the president's tendancy to not stand up for his decisions. He should have come out, said this is an internal matter and you can go back to wasting all of our tax money.

Any impartial observer would look at the evidence in this mess and tell you there's nothing here.




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