Gonzales loses another senator, faces "no-confidence" vote

Arlen Specter predicts "the conclusion of the tenure of the attorney general."


Tim Grieve
May 17, 2007 11:38PM (UTC)

White House press secretary Tony Snow says the president "still has full confidence in Alberto Gonzales," but he seems to be pretty much the only one. Minnesota's Norm Coleman just added his name to the list of GOP senators calling for Gonzales' resignation, and Democrats Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer are now planning for a "no-confidence" vote on Gonzales in the Senate.

Coleman told reporters on a conference call this afternoon that he doesn't "have confidence" in the attorney general anymore. Coleman said that the news of the past couple of days has pushed him over the edge -- James Comey's testimony about the visit Gonzales and Andy Card paid to John Ashcroft's hospital room and the revelation that the Justice Department may have forced out former Minnesota U.S. attorney Tom Heffelfinger. "I would hope that the attorney general understands that the department is suffering right now, and he does the right thing, and that it allows the president to provide new leadership," Coleman said.

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Coleman is the third Republican senator to advocate Gonzales' departure in the past two days. Chuck Hagel called for the attorney general's resignation Wednesday, and Pat Roberts said that Gonzales ought to be thinking about stepping down. John McCain, John Sununu, Tom Coburn and Gordon Smith have also called for Gonzales' resignation, and Arlen Specter, Jeff Sessions and Lindsey Graham have all made it clear that they wouldn't exactly be unhappy if the attorney general decided it was time for him to go.

What will happen when the Democrats' no-confidence resolution comes up for a vote, maybe as early as next week? Will Senate Republicans back up their words with a vote, symbolic though it may be? Specter, for one, wasn't saying today -- he said he wants to see the Democrats' resolution first -- but he was predicting that it might not matter much in the end, anyway. "I have a sense that when we finish our investigation, we may have the conclusion of the tenure of the attorney general," he said. "I think when our investigation is concluded, it'll be clear even to the attorney general and the president that we're looking at a dysfunctional department which is vital to the national welfare."

Maybe so. But the question is, will either Bush or Gonzales care?


Tim Grieve

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

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