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April 20, 2007

Abu Gonzales: Dead Man Walking

After Thursday's hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the only question remaining for Attorney General Gonzales is, "when does he announce his resignation"? He's had weeks to prepare for this session and he failed miserably. It was really a rather pathetic show, typifying the unparalleled ineptitude of those serving in the Bush Administration.

Republican support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales evaporated before his eyes Thursday as a Senate hearing into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys generated more pressure for his resignation.

Struggling to keep his job, Gonzales sat stoically as former allies on the Senate Judiciary Committee turned against him. Two of the panel's Republicans joined Democrats in urging the attorney general to step down. Others sharply criticized his management skills or questioned his credibility.

"I believe that you ought to suffer the consequences that these others have suffered. I believe the best way to put this behind us is your resignation," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., told Gonzales.

Instead of telling the truth about how and why eight US attorneys were fired, the senators (and we) witnessed a cascade of convoluted explainers, each one stupider and more unbelievable than the one that preceded it. Gonzales was totally outmatched by the likes of Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer, Sheldon Whitehouse, Arlen Specter and Diane Feinstein. He couldn't remember pertinent meetings, discussions or even who was actually in charge at the Justice Department while this coup against the attorneys -- and the constitutional imperative of Senate confirmations -- was being waged. Gonzales was nailed to the wall by former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson (self-described "aggregator"), Michael Battle and Paul McNulty, who all gave the senators accounts far different from what the AG recollected.

It's too bad we in Washington don't have a senator on the committee because we would have heard more questions concerning the firing of John McKay. Gonzales and his testimony-preppers decided to stick with the "bad judgement on the LinX information- sharing issue" story. It's known that McNulty and others at the DOJ were angry by being outed as backward-looking cheapskates by McKay, but since no one ever warned him off of complaining to the newspaper or writing direct letters to McNulty asking for adequate funding for the info-sharing program, it just looks like he was fired without cause. McKay watched the hearings and was appalled, characterizing Gonzales' assertions about his so-called bad judgement "absurd". (Of course, cooler heads have already figured out that it's the phony voter fraud issue from 2004 that really got him dumped...)

As Leahy said in his opening statement, the DOJ is experiencing a crisis in leadership. Now that Abu's former supporters on the Republican side of the aisle are calling for his resignation, how long can he possibly last? And who's going to be the brave Republican senator who treks down to the White House to ask Bush to please, and finally, take his head out of his ass, where Gonzales is concerned?

Posted by shoephone on April 20, 2007 at 12:04 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink

Comments

I don't think Bush will fire Gonzales or accept his resignation - it would look too much like he was doing what other people wanted him to do. People wanted Rumsfeld fired for months and months, and Bush just ignored it.

I think if it is best for the DOJ and for the country for Gonzales to go, he will have to be impeached. Now, maybe if a delegation went up to the WH and told Bush that if he didn't can Gonzales, they were going to impeach, and they had the votes to do it, he might choose to avoid that humiliation, but even then, I'm not sure that Bush would give in. In fact, it would not surprise me if Bush fired another US Attorney just to prove he could and that he wasn't afraid of anyone, least of all some bunch of wild-eyed Democrats sitting on some irrelevant committee.

It is truly a sad state of affairs when there is a willingness to accept mediocrity and incompetence because the replacement for Gonzales could be worse. Even though the bar cannot go much lower, I'm sure Bush would find someone who could barely get over it.

Posted by: Anne | Apr 20, 2007 10:11:23 AM

From the P-I article:

"McKay's letter to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty last August was co-signed by 16 other U.S. attorneys from around the country, and McKay spoke with McNulty ahead of time to get permission to send the letter."

Abu's testimony directly contradicted that - he said that Mcnulty was beyond pissed to receive that letter. It'd be interesting to see McNulty's testimony on that matter.

Posted by: op99 | Apr 20, 2007 1:43:15 PM

If I had the energy after my long workday, I'd go find the emails in the doc dump that relate to this. But I did read through them all when they were put on the Judiciary Committee's webpage. It turns out that McKay did contact McNulty beforehand. They had shared emails in the two days before they were to meet (McKay was going to be in D.C. that Friday morning, last summer) and the LinX issue was communicated about. McNulty knew exactly how McKay felt and what he was asking for, because McKay had written him a long letter about it as well. But it's also true that McNulty flipped out after receiving the letter signed by the 16 USAs, and threw that tantrum about how they were acting like enemies from Capitol Hill and all that garbage. I think he was playing CYA , and that he simply didn't want Gonzales to think he had been supporting McKay's request.

And there was a series of angry emails between DOJ officials the day McKay's interview with the Seattle Times was published (it was in September 2006), where he complained about not having the budget needed for expanded LinX.

Still, it's really a whitewash for Gonzales or anyone else to claim that was THE reason for McKay getting dumped, and McKay said so, flatly, when he and Iglesias appeared on MTP a few weeks ago. It was all about the 2004 governor's election. And Rove's office was very involved.

Posted by: shoephone | Apr 20, 2007 8:14:08 PM

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