David Edwards and Nick Juliano
Published: Monday August 27, 2007
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced his resignation Monday, ending months of calls that he would step down from the Justice Department over his role in the dismissal of federal prosecutors and role in expanding the power to spy on Americans.In a news conference Monday morning, Gonzales did not address the reasons for his resignation, and he refused to answer reporters’ shouted questions.
“Even my worst days at Attorney General have been better than my father’s best days,” said Gonzales, whose parents immigrated to Texas from Mexico before he was born.
Gonzales told President Bush of the resignation Friday and met with the president at his Crawford, Texas, ranch over the weekend, according to the New York Times, which first reported Gonzales’s resignation Monday.
Gonzales will leave office Sept. 17, he said.
Democrats and some Republicans in Congress have made increasingly vocal appeals for Gonzales’s resignation over the last several months. He has been accused of misleading House and Senate committees investigating his role in a federal prosecutor firing scandal and the National Security Agency’s warrantless wiretapping program.
In an apparent answer to critics who say Gonzales’s tenure at Justice has encouraged law enforcemet agencies to overstep their constitutional boundaries, Gonzales said Monday that he worked to ensure the “rights and civil liberties of our citizens are protected.”
“It’s a good day for justice in the United States,” David Iglesias, one of the fired US Attorneys, said on MSNBC Monday.
The Attorney General’s departure is the latest high-profile resignation within the Bush administration. The president’s top political adviser, Karl Rove, announced his resignation earlier this month.
Former Sen. John Edwards was the first Democratic presidential candidate to weigh in on the news of Gonzales’ resignation, which broke early Monday morning.
“Better late than never,” Edwards said in a prepared statement released by his campaign.
Critics said Gonzales’ resignation should not end Congressional — and possible criminal — inquiries into his alleged misconduct overseeing the Justice Department.
“Questions of whether Justice Department officials lied to Congress, conducted criminal inquiries to further political ends and made hiring decisions based on political affiliation still merit investigation regardless of Mr. Gonzales’ resignation,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of the independent watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “Just as former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s resignation did not impede the ongoing criminal investigation into his conduct while a member of Congress, so Mr. Gonzales’ departure should not stop … probes into the illegal actions of our nation’s top ranking law enforcement officials.”
Those inquiries should continue in the House Judiciary Committee, where Gonzales has testified several times, its chairman said Monday.
“More than accountability, we need answers. Unfortunately, the continued stonewalling of the White House in the U.S. Attorney scandal has deprived the American people of the truth,” Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) said in a prepared statement. “If the power of the prosecutor has been misused in the name of partisanship, we deserve a full airing of the facts. The responsibility to uncover these facts is still on the Congress, and the Judiciary Committee in particular.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid echoed that sentiment in a separate statement.
“This resignation is not the end of the story,” Reid said. “Congress must get to the bottom of this mess and follow the facts where they lead, into the White House.”
As news of Gonzales’ resignation emerged, speculation centered on who would become his replacement for the remaining 17 months of President Bush’s term. A top candidate is Department of Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), a prominent member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Democrats would be willing to work with the White House to confirm a new attorney general.
“What we Democrats have always said is that we need somebody in this department … who will put rule of law above all others, rule of law above any political consideration,” Schumer said on CNN Monday. “… Our attitude is going to be one of cooperation.”
A senior administration official told the Times that Bush has not yet selected a replacement but will not leave the position vacant long. Bush “grudgingly” accepted Gonzales’ resignation, the Times reported.
Gonzales’s resignation is expected to be announced officially in a 10:30 a.m. news conference Monday.
The Times reports that Justice Department and White House spokesmen were denying reports of an imminent resignation as recently as Sunday afternoon. Judiciary Committee aides told the Times they had received no indication over the weekend that Gonzales would resign.
Fox News reported Monday morning that US Solicitor General Paul Clement could be appointed as a temporary replacement.
Gonzales makes official statement of resignation:
FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.
Alberto Gonzales Resigns
Aug. 27, 2007
Press statement on resignation, August 27, 2007
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Resigns
On Mariné’s Blog