Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is in trouble. His problems have moved well beyond the scandal surrounding the firing of U.S. attorneys.
Last week former acting Attorney General James Comey gave testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee that can only be described as devastating to Gonzales:
Gonzales said in 2006 that there was no “serious disagreement about the program,” a claim that flies in the face of the extraordinary testimony delivered by former Justice official James Comey yesterday. In the letter, the senators ask Gonzales if he stands by his claim
Comey’s testimony portrayed a Gonzales with genuine contempt for the Justice department while he was still White House Counsel. The testimony comes on the heels of a series of other scandals within the Justice department that have taken place under Gonzales’ leadership. As a result, the Senate is preparing for a vote of no-confidence in Gonzales that may be acted upon this week.
Today, President Bush still stands by his man:
“He has done nothing wrong,” Bush said during a news conference at his ranch.
“I frankly view what’s taking place in Washington today as pure political theater,” Bush said, sounding exasperated with the furor swirling around his longtime friend. “I stand by Al Gonzales and I would hope that people would be more sober in how they address these important issues.”
Reading Bush’s words, I have to wonder…is Bush even capable of recognizing when someone has “done something wrong?” It’s hard to imagine he can when I watch a video of him openly lying to the American people on the very same topic—getting court orders for wiretaps (White House transcript, 20 Apr 2004 ):
Bush didn’t have to lie here…he made a deliberate choice to lie.
Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) predicted yesterday that Gonzales would resign before the no confidence vote. Even so, Gonzales and Bush can hold out indefinitely.
I’ve seen two lines of speculation swirling about the internets as to why Bush will stubbornly resist to the bitter end. The first is that there are secrets within the Justice Department that are so devastating to the Bush administration that he cannot risk losing a friendly Attorney General. If so, the potential damage must be large because Bush prefers a dysfunctional Justice Department to possible disclosure of “issues.”
The second (and less conspiratorial) reason is that Bush is waiting until the Senate is in recess to make a recess appointment of a administration-friendly AG. Or…maybe not.
Ultimately, there is only one way to force Gonzales out of office, and Robert Greenwald has launched a video and petition to help make that happen:
The impeachment petition can be found here.
The vengeful side of me is enjoying the impotence, and, yes…even the damage, caused to a rogue Bush administration as they cling to Gonzales while he drags them all over the cliff. In that sense, the longer he stays, the better. But as a patriotic American, I feel strongly that a well-functioning, effective, and lawful Justice Department is critical for our democracy. I sure hope Fredo falls on his sword soon.