The attorney general seems to be losing ground before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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.
More Related Stories
- Developers evict historic women's shelter to build luxury hotel
- Guantánamo prisoner on hunger strike cries for help on Twitter
- 3 possible solutions to international tax avoidance
- “I just want the U.S. to send my father home”
- Army weapons engineer tied to white nationalist organizations
- Ted Cruz against the world
- David Vitter's hypocritical, punitive, horrible new amendment
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- Could hackers destroy the U.S. power grid?
- Democrats may be even worse than Republicans at regulating Wall Street
- Eric Holder versus journalism
- A progressive defense of drones
- There's no substitute for government disaster relief
- Holder signed off on search warrant for reporter
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- Closing Gitmo is not enough
- Murkowski: Palin too disengaged to run for Senate
- In IRS scandal, new GOP tactic is ignorance
- Code Pink activist berates Obama at national security speech
- Cuomo: "Shame on us" if New York City elects Weiner
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11