GOP senator calls for Gonzales’ resignation

The attorney general seems to be losing ground before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Topics: Department of Justice, War Room, Tom Coburn,

Saying that Alberto Gonzales handled last year’s prosecutor purge in a “very incompetent manner,” GOP Sen. Tom Coburn has just added his voice to those calling for the attorney general to resign.

As we noted earlier, Gonzales said today that there is “nothing improper” in firing a U.S. attorney for “poor management, policy differences or questionable judgment, or simply to have another qualified individual serve.” Coburn asked Gonzales whether the same standard shouldn’t be applied to him.

The attorney general said it was a “fair question,” but he refused to answer it directly. Coburn ultimately did it for him.

Coburn: You said earlier this was an unfortunate episode. You also said that these attorneys were evaluated based on their leadership skills and management skills. And you answered a question from Sen. Graham earlier about your position. In light of all this, why would we not use the same standards to judge your performance in handling this event that you applied to these same individuals?

Gonzales: I think that’s a fair question, Senator. And I think that I clearly made mistakes here — clearly — and I accept responsibility for those mistakes, Senator. I’ve tried to identify where those mistakes were made and institutionalize where we can make changes to make the department even stronger. I think the department under my leadership in the past two years, I think we’ve done some great things. I think the department has been managed in a good way. This has not been managed in a good way, and I accept responsibility for that. But I still continue to have great faith in the career people at the department. Cases still continue; investigations still continue. Obviously, I have a lot of work to do to restore confidence and trust. I am committed to doing that.

Coburn: That’s not what I asked you. I said: Why should you not be judged by the same standards at which you judged these dismissed U.S. attorneys?

Gonzales: Senator, again, I’ve identified my mistakes. And you’ll make your decisions based upon my testimony, based upon the review of the record in terms of what has happened, and based upon the testimony of others. And, Senator, what I can commit to you is that I’ve acknowledged mistakes. We all make mistakes. And I’m committed to addressing those mistakes and working with you to make our country even stronger.

Coburn: Well, I believe there’s consequences to a mistake. I was quoted in the paper as saying I think this has been handled in a very incompetent manner. And I believe most people — I don’t care which side of the aisle they are — would agree with that. U.S. attorneys’ reputation … has been harmed. The confidence in U.S. attorneys throughout this country has been damaged. The reputation of the attorney general’s office has been tarnished and brought into question. I disavow, aggressively, any implication that there was a political nature in this. I know that’s the politics of the blood sport that we’re playing. I don’t think it had anything to do with it. But to me, there has to be consequences to accepting responsibility. And I would just say, Mr. Attorney General, it’s my considered opinion that the exact same standards should be applied to you in how this was handled. And it was handled incompetently. The communication was atrocious. It was inconsistent. It’s generous to say that there were misstatements. That’s a generous statement. And I believe you ought to suffer the consequences that these others have suffered. And I believe that the best way to put this behind us is your resignation.

Gonzales: Senator, I don’t know whether or not that puts everything behind us, quite frankly. I am committed — I know the mistakes that were made here. And I am committed to fix those mistakes. And I’m committed to working with you and try to restore the faith and confidence that you need to have to work with me.

Coburn: Well, Mr. Attorney General, you set the standard. You said leadership skills, management skills. They were sorely lacking in this instance. And the responsibility is to start with a clean slate, a new set of leadership skills, a new set of management skills, to heal this in the country, to restore the confidence in this country. I like you as a man. I like you as an individual. I believe you’re totally dedicated to your job and this country. But I think mistakes have consequences, and I believe that should be the one that it should be.

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>