Friday, May 18, 2007

Another Republican calls for Gonzales to quit

Ever able to read the shifting political winds, Minnesota's own Norm Coleman has joined the list of Republicans calling for Alberto Gonzales' ouster.

The link identifies the six GOP senators who now want him to quit, as well as six others who have said he should probably quit while stopping just short of calling for his resignation.

The last straw for Norm: revelations that the Justice Department had a list of at least 26 prosecutors it was considering firing -- not the relative handful it has admitted up until now -- and that former Minnesota U.S. Attorney Tom Heffelfinger was on it.

The list isn't a huge deal by itself. It makes sense that the department would consider a larger group of candidates for replacement before settling on a small number to actually can. But Gonzales' testimony last week that the firing effort was limited to the 8 (oops, 9) identified so far was either misleading, a lie, very poorly phrased or an indication that he was totally unaware of the scope of the discussions occurring under his authority.

There's also the question of how a prosecutor ended up on the list. I look forward to analyses matching the names on the list with their prosecutorial history to see if a trend emerges.

Meanwhile, the Senate may hold a nonbinding no-confidence vote on Gonzales next week -- a move that could attract bipartisan support. The White House denounced it as a PR stunt, but it's far more than that: it will be a public display of how little support Gonzales has. It will also force many senators that have been silent up until now to declare a position. I don't think many of them will come down on Gonzales' side, and the White House knows it.

There's also this interesting exchange about the dramatic confrontation in John Ashcroft's hospital room:

Q Let me just follow up on that. Yesterday, Kelly asked the President straight up about the report of when Gonzales was counsel and sending Andy Card down to the hospital. The President refused to answer, saying it was a national security issue. No part of her question had anything to do with national security issues.

MR. FRATTO: No, there are two points there. One is the discussion of classified programs; and the second is deliberative discussions among and between advisors to the President -- and neither of which is an open window for us to look into and talk about.

Now, I think the President -- I think that's the point that the President was making. It puts us in a difficult communications position, because we understand there are questions out there and it's difficult for us from the podium. But that's not something that we can get into, and we're not going to get into.

Q He can unilaterally declassify, so --

MR. FRATTO: He could, but I think he'd prefer to put the safety and security of Americans ahead of that interest.

Q How does it jeopardize the safety and security of Americans, to say whether --

MR. FRATTO: Any time we talk about --

Q -- to say whether he ordered those guys to go to the hotel room?

MR. FRATTO: The hospital room --

Q I'm sorry, hospital room.

MR. FRATTO: -- according to the reports.

Q -- former acting Attorney General.

MR. FRATTO: Any time we talk about classified programs you're opening the door, and we need to be very careful in how we talk about it.

A nice example of invoking "national security", "executive privilege" and (most wretchedly) "the safety and security of the American people" to avoid answering a question that has nothing to do with any of those.

, ,

Labels: , ,

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bush should continue to support his AG----for at least two reasons. There is no indication the Dem leadership would act any differently with a successor. It's all about trying to get rid of Bush's appointees; whomever they are. And secondly, the replacement of 8 U.S. attorneys does not rise to the level of his having to resign. Nothing illegal was done and he's apologized for the way it was handled.

JP5

5/18/2007 7:11 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

There is no indication the Dem leadership would act any differently with a successor.

That's just partisan silliness. Any successor would be confirmed by the Democrat-controlled Senate; they could hardly turn around and immediately call for that person's ouster. It's also not borne out by history: The Dems handily confirmed both Robert Gates to replace Rumsfeld and David Petraeus to take over in Iraq. There have been no calls for the ouster of either.

Secondly, the replacement of 8 U.S. attorneys does not rise to the level of his having to resign. Nothing illegal was done and he's apologized for the way it was handled.

The scandal has grown to encompass far more than a simple decision to fire eight prosecutors.

5/21/2007 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean: "Any successor would be confirmed by the Democrat-controlled Senate; they could hardly turn around and immediately call for that person's ouster."

But remember, they also confirmed Gonzales and within 1 1/2 years of his confirmation, were looking for ways to "get him" out. As far as Petraeus, yes they confirmed him and immediately set out to NOT fund him.

And yes---the original issue usually grows into something more. That's what witch hunts are all about! In BOTH this case and Libby's case----neither were NOT about the original issue investigated. But then, they really NEVER were.

JP5

5/22/2007 6:09 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

But remember, they also confirmed Gonzales and within 1 1/2 years of his confirmation, were looking for ways to "get him" out.

Congress wasn't run by Democrats when Gonzales was confirmed. And the vote at the time was just 60-36 (with 4 abstentions). It was almost entirely a party-line vote.

As far as Petraeus, yes they confirmed him and immediately set out to NOT fund him.

So having confirmed him, they're required to agree with him?

Besides, that's not technically true. They provided all the funding Bush asked for and more -- just with strings that Bush found unacceptable. We can discuss the wisdom of those strings or Bush's veto -- as you know, on this issue I'm in rare agreement with Bush -- but you simply cannot claim that they didn't agree to fund his mission.

And yes---the original issue usually grows into something more. That's what witch hunts are all about!

It's also what non-witch hunts are about. The originating question -- were the highly unusual firings of U.S. prosecutors done for legitimate reasons? -- deserved investigation (and, notably, we still don't have an answer). Things snowballed from there.

5/22/2007 6:40 PM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home