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Attorney General Gonzalez admits to mistakes

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Muckdog
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Gonzales: 'I did make some mistakes'
POSTED: 10:14 a.m. EDT, March 14, 2007
Story Highlights? Attorney general says he's not resigning, stays focused on job
? Alberto Gonzales admits errors, but says firings of 8 U.S. attorneys were justified
? House Judiciary Committee invites White House aides to appear
? Some sacked attorneys say they were pressured for the sake of politics
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales conceded Wednesday that he "absolutely" should have been more involved in the process that saw eight U.S. attorneys fired.

Gonzales said he charged his chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, with determining "where we could do better" after then-White House Counsel Harriet Miers suggested canning all 93 U.S. attorneys, an idea Gonzales says he opposed.

"I had confidence in my chief of staff to drive that process forward, to vet names throughout the department," Gonzales said. (Watch Gonzales assert there was no retaliation in the firings )

Sampson came back with the list of names of eight U.S. attorneys, he said. The firing of the eight has sparked a furor among those who believe it was a political move rather than being related to job performance as the Justice Department claimed.

Sampson quit as Gonzales' chief of staff and Gonzales himself is facing calls to resign.

......
Asked if he would heed calls to step down, Gonzales replied, "That is a decision for the president of the United States to make. I'm focused on doing my job."

On Tuesday, Gonzales said the lawyers should have been told why they were being fired and admitted the explanations initially given to Congress about the matter were "incomplete."

"As we can all imagine, in an organization of 110,000 people, I am not aware of every bit of information that passes through the halls of justice, nor am I aware of all decisions," he said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference.

....
"Did the attorney general not know that eight U.S. attorneys were to be fired?" Schumer said. "If he didn't know, he shouldn't be attorney general, plain and simple."

The Bush administration has said the fired attorneys -- seven in December and one months earlier -- were sacked because of poor performance.

Democrats accuse the administration of trying to dictate to the prosecutors, who are supposed to act in a nonpartisan way. Several of the prosecutors who were fired have said they were being pressured to move more quickly on some investigations.

David Iglesias of New Mexico testified last week that he felt Sen. Pete Domenici, a New Mexico Republican, was pushing him in October to rush indictments against Democrats before Election Day in November, The Associated Press reported. John McKay, fired U.S. attorney from Seattle, said he cut off detailed questions from an aide to Rep. Doc Hastings, a Washington Republican, about an inquiry into the disputed election of Washington state's Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire in 2004, the AP said.

The House Judiciary Committee has invited Miers, Miers' ex-deputy William Kelley and Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove, to appear voluntarily before the committee.

According to the invitation, the committee wants to talk to Rove about allegations that he heard complaints from a New Mexico GOP operative about Iglesias. Also, the letter states, there are questions arising from a White House assertion Tuesday that Rove passed those complaints on to Miers' office and the Justice Department. (Read letter)

The White House has said Rove wasn't involved in the actual firings.

E-mail trail
Democrats are examining e-mails between White House and Justice Department officials related to the firings. (Full story)

One e-mail from Sampson to Miers dated January 1, 2006, read, "You have asked whether President Bush should remove and replace U.S. Attorneys whose four-year terms have expired. I recommend that the Department of Justice and the Office of the Counsel to the President work together to seek the replacement of a limited number of U.S. attorneys."

On September 13, 2006, Sampson e-mailed Miers lists of federal attorneys "In the Process of Being Pushed Out" and those "We Now Should Consider Pushing Out." (Watch a congressman explain how e-mails suggest White House involvement in firings )

....
Snow emphasized that Bush made "no recommendations on specific individuals."
CNN link

Something which probably could've been avoided. The DoJ has only themselves to blame for this becoming an issue.

More good news for Bush for when he returns from Mexico. :eek:
 

Das Texan

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More to love from this administration.


Kudos to Gonzalez for acting in a manner that the Attorney General should be acting in also.


*shoots self*
 

FutureGM

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Worst. AG. Ever.

His backing of these firings is likely to cost him the job in the end (I hope).

I knew he would be worse than Ashcroft, but he has been far quieter than his predecessor so far.
 

Flying_Mollusk

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This is not going away. Something should be made clear. US Attorneys generally can be fired for any reason. They do serve at the pleasure of the president. So the firings themselves, though unprecedented and really foolish, may not be improper per se. They may however be improper if they happend because they were interfering with pending investigations.

But what is really getting Gonzalez in trouble right now is how they got the replacements. You see, a president can fire an executive officer but he cannot appoint one without the Senate's consent.

But that great piece of legislation known as the patriot act allows the president to make interim appointments without the approval of congress. The Bush administration decided to conspire in a way to avoid the congressional approval reqiured. They lied and told Senators that they were making eht interim appointments with and would be bringing in permenent appointments soon. This was untrue. They basically planned to let the interims ride it out so they could avoid Congress.

-another example of the patriotic act being used for non-national security purposes
-another example of the isolation if this administration
 
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I understand and to some extent agree with F_M's point. But Clinton did fire all 93 of them during his administration, so the firing in and of itself is neither unprecedented or wrong.
 

Mabdul Doobakus

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Did Clinton fire them during the middle of his administration? Or at the start of it? From what I understand, firing them is fairly customary when there is a change in adminstration.
 

Das Texan

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I understand and to some extent agree with F_M's point. But Clinton did fire all 93 of them during his administration, so the firing in and of itself is neither unprecedented or wrong.

Clinton fired them all when he took over. And he fired them because they wouldnt resign.


It happens every time a change in the White House happens. Usually the judges just resign and the President brings in the people he wants and they serve for the majority of his term.


Apples to oranges. Apples to oranges.
 

BullDurham

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Yeah, and the purges were in the past couple of years and often involved intimidation tactics, a la Domenici.
 
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I understand and to some extent agree with F_M's point. But Clinton did fire all 93 of them during his administration, so the firing in and of itself is neither unprecedented or wrong.

Clinton fired them all when he took over. And he fired them because they wouldnt resign.


It happens every time a change in the White House happens. Usually the judges just resign and the President brings in the people he wants and they serve for the majority of his term.


Apples to oranges. Apples to oranges.

Not quite apples to oranges. Much more like green apples to red apples. Still too similar to completely disregard the Clinton firings.
 

Flying_Mollusk

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I understand and to some extent agree with F_M's point. But Clinton did fire all 93 of them during his administration, so the firing in and of itself is neither unprecedented or wrong.

Clinton fired them all when he took over. And he fired them because they wouldnt resign.


It happens every time a change in the White House happens. Usually the judges just resign and the President brings in the people he wants and they serve for the majority of his term.


Apples to oranges. Apples to oranges.

Not quite apples to oranges. Much more like green apples to red apples. Still too similar to completely disregard the Clinton firings.

You don't think firing people to alter pending investigations is different from firing people who have a different political view than you? You realize that Rove may have suggested firing Patrick Fitzgerald as Fitzgerald was investigating him as independant counsel.

This whole Clinton did it argument is the typical Bush tactic of blurring the lines and hiding the nuances so they can justify improper acts. Like I've said. This works for Rove during political campaigns, ie surrogates running improper ads. But it doesn't work when actually running a country.
 

Das Texan

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I understand and to some extent agree with F_M's point. But Clinton did fire all 93 of them during his administration, so the firing in and of itself is neither unprecedented or wrong.

Clinton fired them all when he took over. And he fired them because they wouldnt resign.


It happens every time a change in the White House happens. Usually the judges just resign and the President brings in the people he wants and they serve for the majority of his term.


Apples to oranges. Apples to oranges.

Not quite apples to oranges. Much more like green apples to red apples. Still too similar to completely disregard the Clinton firings.

MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2001

WWW.USDOJ.GOV
TDD

WHITE HOUSE AND JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
BEGIN U.S. ATTORNEY TRANSITION

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Continuingthe practice of new administrations, President Bush and the Department of Justice have begun the transition process for most of the 93 United States Attorneys.

Attorney General Ashcroft said, "We are committed to making this an orderly transition to ensure effective, professional law enforcement that reflects the President 's priorities."

In January of this year, nearly all presidential appointees from the previous administration offered their resignations. Two Justice Department exceptions were the United States Attorneys and United States Marshals.

Prior to the beginning of this transition process, nearly one-third of the United States Attorneys had already submitted their resignations. The White House and the Department of Justice have begun to schedule transition dates for most of the remaining United States Attorneys to occur prior to June of this year. President Bush will make announcements regarding his nominations to the Senate of new United States Attorneys as that information becomes available. Pending confirmation of the President's nominees, the Attorney General will make appointments of Interim United States Attorneys for a period of 120 days (28USC546). Upon the expiration of that appointment, the authority rests with the United States District Court (28USC546(d)).




Most attorneys offer their resignations. If they dont, they are fired. Again, comparing Clinton's firings in 93 would be like comparing Bush's replacing of the attorneys in 01.

This has happened twice in the past 25 years what the Bush admin has done to 8 attorneys.

Apples to oranges.
 

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Had to dig this thread up from a few months ago.... since it's still ongoing.

I just caught this article from WaPost the other day. This was from before Gonzalez was Attorney General, but nevertheless, pretty low. I'm more than a little surprised he hasn't been asked to resign yet.

link

some excerpts
Gonzales's Signature Moment
__

By Eugene Robinson
Saturday, May 19, 2007; Page A17

It just gets worse and worse. We already knew that Alberto Gonzales -- who, unbelievably, remains our attorney general -- was willing to construe the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions however George W. Bush and Dick Cheney wanted. We knew he was willing to politicize the Justice Department, if that was what the White House wanted. Now we learn that Gonzales also was willing to accost a seriously ill man in his hospital room to get his signature on a dodgy justification for unprecedented domestic surveillance.

The man Gonzales harried on his sickbed was his predecessor as attorney general, John Ashcroft. The episode-- recounted this week in congressional testimony by Ashcroft's former deputy, James Comey -- sounds like something from Hollywood, not Washington. It's hard not to think of that scene in "The Godfather" when Don Corleone is left alone in his hospital bed, vulnerable to his enemies, and Michael has to save him.

It was the night of March 10, 2004. Several days earlier, Ashcroft had been stricken with a severe case of pancreatitis and was rushed to George Washington University Hospital, where his gallbladder was removed and he was placed in intensive care. Ashcroft's wife had banned all visitors and phone calls.

Ashcroft's illness came amid a fight between the White House and the Justice Department over the program of warrantless domestic electronic surveillance that Bush had authorized after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Justice had reviewed the program and expressed doubts about its legality.

Comey, serving as acting attorney general because of Ashcroft's illness, refused to sign off on a reauthorization of the program until changes were made. The night before the current authorization was to expire, Comey said, he was being driven home when he got a call from Ashcroft's chief of staff, who had just heard from Ashcroft's wife that Gonzales, then serving as White House counsel, and White House chief of staff Andrew Card were on their way to the hospital. They wanted to get the ailing Ashcroft to overrule Comey and sign the reauthorization.

Comey ordered his driver to turn around and managed to get to the hospital first. Rather than wait for the elevator, he ran up the stairs. "And Mrs. Ashcroft was standing by the hospital bed," he testified, "Mr. Ashcroft was lying down in the bed, the room was darkened. And I immediately began speaking to him, trying to orient him as to time and place, and try to see if he could focus on what was happening, and it wasn't clear to me that he could. He seemed pretty bad off."

Gonzales was carrying an envelope when he and Card arrived. Gonzales told Ashcroft they were there "to seek his approval for a matter," Comey recalled. Ashcroft refused to sign anything, told them why and said that, in any event, Comey was the acting attorney general with the full powers of the office.

"I was very upset," Comey said. "I was angry. I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man."

Now let's fast-forward a couple of years -- to February 2006, after the secret surveillance program had become public. Gonzales, testifying before Congress, said there had been no serious disagreement within the administration about the legality of conducting such widespread electronic eavesdropping without seeking court warrants.

In fact, there was nearly an insurrection. Comey and other high-ranking Justice Department officials threatened to resign if the White House continued the surveillance program as it then was constituted. "Mr. Ashcroft's chief of staff asked me something that meant a great deal to him," Comey testified this week, "and that is that I not resign until Mr. Ashcroft was well enough to resign with me." Ultimately, Bush and Cheney agreed to modifications that addressed Justice's concerns.

......

The image I can't get out of my head is of Alberto Gonzales carrying a document for Ashcroft's signature into the man's hospital room, attempting a sneaky end-run around the deputy whom Ashcroft left in charge of the department, knowing full well that Ashcroft was seriously ill and almost certainly medicated. What did he intend to do, guide the man's hand?

This is the attorney general of the United States, ladies and gentlemen. Heaven help us.
 
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Had to dig this thread up from a few months ago.... since it's still ongoing.

I just caught this article from WaPost the other day. This was from before Gonzalez was Attorney General, but nevertheless, pretty low. I'm more than a little surprised he hasn't been asked to resign yet.

link

some excerpts
Gonzales's Signature Moment
__

By Eugene Robinson
Saturday, May 19, 2007; Page A17

It just gets worse and worse. We already knew that Alberto Gonzales -- who, unbelievably, remains our attorney general -- was willing to construe the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions however George W. Bush and Dick Cheney wanted. We knew he was willing to politicize the Justice Department, if that was what the White House wanted. Now we learn that Gonzales also was willing to accost a seriously ill man in his hospital room to get his signature on a dodgy justification for unprecedented domestic surveillance.

The man Gonzales harried on his sickbed was his predecessor as attorney general, John Ashcroft. The episode-- recounted this week in congressional testimony by Ashcroft's former deputy, James Comey -- sounds like something from Hollywood, not Washington. It's hard not to think of that scene in "The Godfather" when Don Corleone is left alone in his hospital bed, vulnerable to his enemies, and Michael has to save him.

It was the night of March 10, 2004. Several days earlier, Ashcroft had been stricken with a severe case of pancreatitis and was rushed to George Washington University Hospital, where his gallbladder was removed and he was placed in intensive care. Ashcroft's wife had banned all visitors and phone calls.

Ashcroft's illness came amid a fight between the White House and the Justice Department over the program of warrantless domestic electronic surveillance that Bush had authorized after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Justice had reviewed the program and expressed doubts about its legality.

Comey, serving as acting attorney general because of Ashcroft's illness, refused to sign off on a reauthorization of the program until changes were made. The night before the current authorization was to expire, Comey said, he was being driven home when he got a call from Ashcroft's chief of staff, who had just heard from Ashcroft's wife that Gonzales, then serving as White House counsel, and White House chief of staff Andrew Card were on their way to the hospital. They wanted to get the ailing Ashcroft to overrule Comey and sign the reauthorization.

Comey ordered his driver to turn around and managed to get to the hospital first. Rather than wait for the elevator, he ran up the stairs. "And Mrs. Ashcroft was standing by the hospital bed," he testified, "Mr. Ashcroft was lying down in the bed, the room was darkened. And I immediately began speaking to him, trying to orient him as to time and place, and try to see if he could focus on what was happening, and it wasn't clear to me that he could. He seemed pretty bad off."

Gonzales was carrying an envelope when he and Card arrived. Gonzales told Ashcroft they were there "to seek his approval for a matter," Comey recalled. Ashcroft refused to sign anything, told them why and said that, in any event, Comey was the acting attorney general with the full powers of the office.

"I was very upset," Comey said. "I was angry. I thought I just witnessed an effort to take advantage of a very sick man."

Now let's fast-forward a couple of years -- to February 2006, after the secret surveillance program had become public. Gonzales, testifying before Congress, said there had been no serious disagreement within the administration about the legality of conducting such widespread electronic eavesdropping without seeking court warrants.

In fact, there was nearly an insurrection. Comey and other high-ranking Justice Department officials threatened to resign if the White House continued the surveillance program as it then was constituted. "Mr. Ashcroft's chief of staff asked me something that meant a great deal to him," Comey testified this week, "and that is that I not resign until Mr. Ashcroft was well enough to resign with me." Ultimately, Bush and Cheney agreed to modifications that addressed Justice's concerns.

......

The image I can't get out of my head is of Alberto Gonzales carrying a document for Ashcroft's signature into the man's hospital room, attempting a sneaky end-run around the deputy whom Ashcroft left in charge of the department, knowing full well that Ashcroft was seriously ill and almost certainly medicated. What did he intend to do, guide the man's hand?

This is the attorney general of the United States, ladies and gentlemen. Heaven help us.

Where is Ashcroft's statement on this matter? I tried to find it but couldn't. Does anyone have that information? And my understanding back in '04 was that the evil Ashcroft supported the wiretaps.
 

Hotcorner

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Oh he certainly seemed to support them in some fashion, just (if you believe Comey) not in the form it was originally presented to him.

Comey and other high-ranking Justice Department officials threatened to resign if the White House continued the surveillance program as it then was constituted. "Mr. Ashcroft's chief of staff asked me something that meant a great deal to him," Comey testified this week, "and that is that I not resign until Mr. Ashcroft was well enough to resign with me." Ultimately, Bush and Cheney agreed to modifications that addressed Justice's concerns.

Gonzales's testimony in 2006 was that officials expressed no reservations that "dealt with the program that we are talking about today." Presumably he was being extraordinarily careful with his words -- "the program that we are talking about today" had already been modified, two years earlier, to avoid what threatened to become a Wednesday Night Massacre. Before those changes, the attorney general neglected to tell Congress, the program had caused a legal riot.

trying to find anything from Ashcroft on the subject...
 

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