Alberto went back up the Hill today and once more faced a stern and scowling Senate Judiciary Committee. By the time it was all said and done, Senator Leahy was hinting at perjury charges and Senator Specter raised the specter of a special prosecutor.
Noting aWol’s unprecedented invocation of executive privilege, Specter observed that “the president’s word stands and the constitutional authority and responsibility for congressional oversight is gone.” He went on to voice that one of the alternatives he has been kicking around is the appointment of a special prosecutor. “The attorney general has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor,” said Specter. “You’re recused, but somebody else could do it. You’re recused because you know all of the principals. You have a conflict of interest. But doesn’t the president have an identical conflict of interest?”
He disputed charges that morale in the Justice Department has plummeted under his leadership, saying that morale can best be measured by "output." The department's output in the last six months has been "outstanding," he asserted.
"I've decided to stay and fix the problems," he said in response to a question.
"The attorney general has lost the confidence of the Congress and the American people," Leahy said. He said the administration "has squandered our trust" and told Gonzales bluntly, "I don't trust you."
Specter said there was "evidence of low morale" at the Justice Department and blasted what he described as Gonzales's lack of "personal credibility." He called the department "dysfunctional." Specter raised the prospect of calling for a special prosecutor to press a potential contempt-of-Congress citation over the White House's refusal to provide certain documents and sworn testimony regarding the firing of nine federal prosecutors last year. He denounced the Bush administration's stand that it would prohibit the
"Now if that forecloses a determination of whether executive privilege has been properly imposed, then the president in that manner can stymie congressional oversight by simply saying there is executive privilege," Specter said. That would spell the end of congressional oversight and take the controversy "to a really incredible level," he said.
"Now we've been exploring some alternatives," Specter said, noting that "the attorney general has the authority to appoint a special prosecutor." He told Gonzales, "You're recused, but somebody else could do it."
Specter added, "We also have the alternative of convening the Senate and having a contempt citation and trying it in the Senate."
Gonzo’s pledge to stay on and roll up his sleeves and get to work setting the department back right is simply staggering. WTF???
There is no confidence in the Attorney General from the rank-and-file in the Justice Department. They are despondent and have zero confidence in their compromised, beleaguered “leader.”
Senior staff has resigned in unprecedented numbers. Candidates refuse employment with the department. At least half of the top jobs at Main Justice are unfilled and others are staffed with temps.
Legislative priorities are not being addressed, including revisions to the intelligence laws and anti-crime proposals. "It takes away from normal work," one recently departed Justice official said about the persistent controversy over Gonzales's role in the firings and the use of improper political considerations in hiring career employees. "It obviously has a serious impact," said the former official, who would discuss the department's internal workings only if not identified.
Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have called on Gonzales to resign, but he has steadfastly refused, taking the slings and arrows of public and congressional outrage for his boss. He staunchly, stubbornly hangs on, knowing that his boss will never fire the firewall that stands between him and criminal investigations and prosecutions. The Senate has no confidence in him, and the vote indicates. No, it wasn’t sixty – but it wasn’t less than fifty, either. Remember that.
Let’s face it – without Gonzales, a competent attorney general would have to be installed. The Democratic-controlled Congress would not confirm a lackey like Gonzales. (Imagine Jack Danforth as AG…Oh, reverie…Not only would those Main Justice jobs get snapped up by well-qualified candidates, there would be resignations in the West Wing sufficient to stop the administration dead in its tracks.)
So make with the impeachment of this hapless, sad little man who feebly feigns a desire to do his job, now that it’s all come undone and he is exposed for what he is: a not-to-bright, ideologically driven, inept and compromised failure.
Let me finish with an installment of “What My Lawyer Said”
“This is precisely why I have been a raving lunatic for months … about the necessity of initiating an impeachment investigation, even if it is only as to Gonzales to start. Running out the clock in order to protect our majorities, gain some seats and install a Democratic administration does not cut it. That is akin to doing some public service announcements and hoping crime disappears in your community. The facts and extent of harm must be fleshed out in a formal investigation, the public must be allowed to understand the full nature and extent of what has occurred, and those responsible must be held to account. If not, the ugly beast continues to raise it’s ugly head with impunity in the future.”
Well said, Counselor.