Gonzales' lawyer, Gonzales' worry

The former attorney general is said to fear prosecution for lying to Congress.

Published October 10, 2007 8:22PM (EDT)

George Terwilliger just missed becoming George W. Bush's nominee as the next attorney general. The consolation prize: He gets to continue representing former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

As Newsweek reports, Gonzales hired Terwilliger -- a leader of the Bush-Cheney legal team in the 2000 Florida recount fight -- as soon as he left office last month.

The former A.G.'s biggest worry? A former administration official "close to Gonzales' team" tells Newsweek that Gonzales fears that Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine will make a criminal referral -- or call for a special prosecutor -- if he decides that Gonzales lied to Congress when he said there had "not been any serious disagreement" about the president's warrantless surveillance program.

In an e-mail message to Newsweek, Terwilliger confirmed that he's representing Gonzales but tried to put a cheery -- no, heroic -- spin on things. "We have been engaged to assist Judge Gonzales in his continued effort to provide assistance to the Department of Justice as it examines the Department's role in various programs and operations to combat the terrorist threat," Terwilliger said. "An unbiased assessment of the facts will show that Judge Gonzales, while holding high public office during a time of great peril, worked to help maintain the safety and security of the American people and acted always with the intent and commitment to honor the rule of law."

Took the words right out of our mouth.

By Tim Grieve

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

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