Gonzales: I only know what I did

The attorney general leaves open the possibility that his underlings recommended firings for improper reasons.

Published March 27, 2007 1:10PM (EDT)

In sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Jan. 18, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said: "I think I would never, ever make a change in a United States attorney for political reasons or if it would in any way jeopardize an ongoing serious investigation. I just would not do it."

It turns out that, when he said "I," he really meant "I."

In an interview with NBC's Pete Williams last night, Gonzales once again insisted that he didn't mean to fire any U.S. attorneys for political reasons. But he left open the possibility that political motivations may have been behind the firing recommendations that his subordinates gave to him.

Asked how he could "be certain" that no U.S. attorney was fired for "improper reasons," Gonzales acknowledged that he couldn't be. "What I can say is this," he said. "I know the reasons why I asked these United States attorneys to leave. And it was not for improper reasons. It was not to interfere with a public corruption case, it was not for partisan reasons. If I find out that, in fact, any of these decisions were motivated, the recommendations to me were motivated for improper reasons to interfere with a public corruption case, there will be . . . swift and decisive action, I can assure you of that."

By Tim Grieve

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

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