Alberto Gonzales, the nation's first Hispanic attorney general who served for a little over two years, announced his resignation this morning. This finally ends a nasty standoff between Gonzales and members of Congress over his honesty and competence at the helm of the Justice Department.
Republicans and Democrats alike have demanded his resignation over the botched handling of FBI terror investigations and the firings of U.S. attorneys, but President Bush defiantly stood by his Texas friend until accepting his resignation Friday. Bush was not by Gonzales' side when he made the formal announcement in D.C. this morning, as he was when Rove made his resignation statement.
Solicitor General Paul Clement will be acting attorney general until a replacement is found, said the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid pre-empting the announcement. Rumors are that Bush has no idea what name he will put forth for a confirmed appointment.
As attorney general and earlier as White House counsel, Gonzales pushed for expanded presidential powers, including authority to eavesdrop on American citizens. He drafted controversial rules for military war tribunals and sought to limit the legal rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay — prompting lawsuits by civil libertarians who said the government was violating the Constitution in its pursuit of terrorists.
Then, there is the continuing flap over the fired prosecutors that proved to be the final straw for Gonzales, whose truthfulness in testimony to Congress was questioned. Some lawmakers said the dismissals of the federal prosecutors appeared to be politically motivated.
Thousands of documents released by the Justice Department show a White House plot, hatched shortly after the 2004 elections, to replace U.S. attorneys. At one point, senior White House officials, including Rove, suggested replacing all 93 prosecutors. In several House and Senate hearings into the firings, Gonzales and other Justice Department officials failed to fully explain the ousters without contradicting each other.
Gonzales, whom Bush once considered for appointment to the Supreme Court, is the fourth top-ranking administration official to leave since November 2006. Donald Rumsfeld, an architect of the failed Iraqi incursion, resigned as defense secretary one day after the November elections. Paul Wolfowitz, also a proponent of invading Iraq, agreed in May to step down as president of the World Bank after an ethics inquiry. Top Bush adviser Rove -- no doubt about where he came down about Iraq -- announced earlier this month that he was stepping down to spend more time with his family. Who among you believe that last one -- about the family, I mean?
Only Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice remains untouched and is scheduled to remain until Bush boards Air Force One for the last time. I guess that's because she's such a damn good crossword puzzle player with Bush, or it could be because she's done so damn little as secretary of state that, unlike Rumsfeld, Rove and Gonzales, she's managed to not get Congress in a flutter. Anyway, Gonzalez and Rove will officially, and hopefully, physically leave D.C. in September. Back to Texas both of you! Hooray!!
Some information for this post taken from an Associated Press Article. Read the complete article, without my comments and edits, at the Associated Press Web site, and read the one from Reuters.