The real story on Gonzales' departure?

Did he jump or was he pushed?

Published August 28, 2007 12:07PM (EDT)

Did Alberto Gonzales jump or was he pushed?

White House officials told anyone who would listen Monday that the attorney general's decision to resign was all his. But Dan Bartlett, who resigned as counselor to the president earlier this year, tells the Washington Post that the investigations into problems at the Justice Department -- and Gonzales' inept responses to them -- left everyone aware that a decision would have to be made about Gonzales come August. "Everybody came to the conclusion that it was not possible to sustain a positive, proactive agenda at the Department of Justice with all the distractions," Bartlett says.

Similarly, Republicans "close to the White House and Mr. Gonzales" tell the New York Times that Gonzales was "eased out, and that the process leading to his departure unfolded over several months as Joshua B. Bolten, the White House chief of staff, and Fred F. Fielding, the White House counsel, concluded that Mr. Gonzales had become a liability and quietly pushed for him to step down."

The president didn't take any questions about Gonzales Monday, but what he did say would seem to support the idea that Gonzales' decision was made for him. Although Bush said that Gonzales "decided to resign his position," he also said that congressional investigations had impeded the attorney general from doing his job.

By Tim Grieve

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

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