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Gonzales Will Stay on Message at Thurs. House Hearing

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales will again apologize for the "process" that led to the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys last year, acknowledging that he should have ensured a "more vigorous" evaluation of the federal prosecutors, according to prepared remarks to be delivered tomorrow on Capitol Hill.

Gonzales, who is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee, stands by his previous statements that he had little involvement in the actual decision-making process, which he says was largely delegated to his then-chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson. "I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign," Gonzales will say again tomorrow, according to the draft testimony. The testimony, which was provided to Capitol Briefing, was delivered to Capitol Hill late last night.

Gonzales's appearance before House Judiciary, which is examining the firings amid accusations that the dismissals were done to install politically loyal prosecutors, marks the attorney general's third attempt to explain the ousters in less than four months. The previous appearances were before the Senate Judiciary Committee, including what had been hyped as a make-or-break testimony last month for protecting his job.

The April testimony was largely panned by both Republicans and Democrats, but Gonzales has held onto his job with strong support from President Bush. This prepared testimony for Thursday's appearance does not appear to diverge much from what has been the Gonzales approach for almost two months: He wasn't much involved in the details of the almost two-year-long process of evaluating the U.S. attorneys, but none of the firings were ordered for improper reasons to speed up prosecutions of Democrats or impede investigations of Republicans.

A few highlights from the AG's prepared remarks:

* "Reasonable people may dispute whether or not the actual reasons for these decisions were sufficient to justify a particular resignation."

* "I believed that [Sampson] was the right person to (1) to collect insight and opinions, including his own, from department officials with the most knowledge of U.S. attorneys and (2) to provide, based on that judgment, a consensus recommendation."

* "Looking back, it is clear to me that I should have done more personally to ensure that the review process was more rigorous, and that each U.S. attorney was informed of this decision in a more personal and respectful way."

* "The process of selecting U.S. attorneys to be asked to resign, while not improper, should have been more rigorous and should have been completed in a much shorter period of time."

Many top Democrats have called for Gonzales to resign, while a small group of Republicans -- including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a GOP presidential hopeful, and Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), the third ranking Republican in the House leadership -- have also called for his ouster.

However, many Republicans remain like Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) -- concerned about Gonzales's leadership of the Justice Department but unwilling to call for his firing. Almost three weeks after Gonzales's inability to answer a Sessions question from last month's Senate hearing on the firings, Sessions told Capitol Briefing yesterday that he still wasn't certain about the attorney general's grasp on power. "He and the president need to ask themselves in the time they have remaining in this administration: What's the best result for the Department of Justice?"

Sessions, a senior Judiciary Committee member, said a resignation could occur "without suggesting that the attorney general did anything immoral or illegal or improper."

But Gonzales will tell the House panel tomorrow that he plans to spend all day convincing them nothing wrong happened.

"I intend to stay here as long as it takes to answer all of the questions that the committee may have about my involvement in this matter," his prepared remarks say. "I want this committee to be satisfied, to be fully reassured, that nothing improper was done. I want the American people to be reassured of the same."

By Paul Kane  |  May 9, 2007; 8:08 AM ET
Categories:  Hearing Watch  
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Next: A Brewing Battle Over House Committee Assignments


The question is -- Why was anyone fired?

No evidence has been put forth to justify firing any of the U.S. attornys. The excuses that have been offered to justify the firings are lame at best, and very specious.

Posted by: DcNative | May 9, 2007 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I'm betting that Gonzalez stays until January, 2009, unless some criminal conduct emerges. He has given the Bush Administration a raft of unwise, unlawful and unconstitutional opinions. The White House cannot find a qualified successor who would agree with them, and if it did, such a nomination would probably die in the Senate Judiciary Committee. So Gonzalez stays so that his advice will not be repudiated.

Posted by: ExJudiciaryCttee | May 9, 2007 9:46 AM | Report abuse

The Dept. of Justice system has to remain above suspicion to maintain the the people's faith.

Alberto Gonzales twisted the letter of the law to justify omnipotent powers for the executive branch and sanctioned illegal wiretapping and torture. He undid our checks and balances by renaming POW's "enemy combatants" and deprived detainees of their legal rights under the law. For these anti-American values, he's proven to all concerned, justice means nothing to him.

The American tradition has always been, you are innocent until proven guilty. Gonzales changed all that. As long as he remains in any official capacity, the Justice Department will remain under a suspicious cloud of power abuses.

Posted by: Gab | May 9, 2007 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I wonder if in the future Alberto Gonzales will have difficulty remembering the grilling he took in April to explain these firings. If I were questioning him, I would constantly bring up his past testimony: Mr. Gonzales, do you recall in April when you stated that your calendar shows that you attended the November 29th meeting? Do you remember in April when you said that you did not closely review the reasons for dismissing each prosecutor?

Just sadly, sadly incompitent...

Posted by: ThingsThatShine | May 9, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

There is no doubt in my mind that Gonzales is telling the truth about his personal involvement.. Rove was the back door man with Sampson as the front man.. Rove Cheney and bush will keep Gonzales no matter what.. where else will they find a lawyer willing to run a clandestine political operation for the RNC under the guise of Justice for all...

Posted by: eldeppnyc | May 9, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

This would be humorous if we were talking about the chain of command and funding through the decades of an Afghan heroin smuggling operation, or attempts to cover up President Bush's drinking and driving, but we are talking about the United States Department of Faith-based Justice. And do you know what Jeff Gannon's gay porn name is? D. Kyle Sampson.

Posted by: The Fredo Bandito | May 9, 2007 10:17 AM | Report abuse

It's a simple question: How was the list of 8 proesecuters put together? Who put names on the list? What were the reasons? If they were fired because they weren't obeying the orders of the Republican party...Impeachment time.

Posted by: thebob.bob | May 9, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Alberto Gonzalez works injustice.

Posted by: Robert Graham | May 9, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Gonzales will stay and take heat to keep the attention off of Rove. That's who Congress wants to follow the leads up to, and Gonzales slows that down and keeps the clock running.

W is not going to let Gonzales go anywhere. He needs him more now than ever - to protect Rove.

Posted by: Observer | May 9, 2007 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Gonzoles says he will stay as long as it takes to answer ALL of the questions. Unfortunately, most of his answers will probably be "I don't recall.".

Posted by: Lew | May 9, 2007 10:49 AM | Report abuse

The remarkable thing continues to be: if the firings had happened in the same way at almost any time during the last six years, you wouldn't even be hearing about it. The complacency of the Congress, the courts, and journalism simply let that happen almost every day. Of course Rove ordered a hit on Justice to influence election outcomes: no person with a pulse is in doubt about that. The remarkable thing is we wouldn't even be hearing about that if it had happened in, say, 2003. A page 5 story would announce new faces at Justice. Now imagine how much else we don't know about what this administration has done.

Posted by: jpk | May 9, 2007 11:01 AM | Report abuse

Let's hope our House members do more rigorous questioning than he faced in the Senate committee.

If he was so detached from the firing process, how could he come to Congress and testify they were fired for performance reasons?

Similarly, I hope they ask about the politicization of the hiring process for lower-level staff and interns.

And whatever happened to the Senate's request for the infamous e-mails? Will the House demand them, too? Will they call for Monica Goodling to testify, now that Little Al's memo about her and Sampson finally was unearthed.

We have a long way to go on the politicization of DoJ, and sooner or later, we'll get the closet door open.

Posted by: pacman | May 9, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

As a famous American once said...*It's Deja-Vu all over again*.

I hope the House members don't let this pathetic excuse for a human being mumble and lie his way through another round of questioning.

I've never seen more of a passive-aggressive personality on vivid and awful display in my life then the Gonzer in front of the Dems recently...he would put any whining five year old to shame...

Posted by: wagonjak | May 9, 2007 11:51 AM | Report abuse

The schadenfreude of watching this AG and Administration squirm from a completely self-inflicted political fiasco is just so enjoyable to watch

The fact that this plan to fire the US Attorneys, and try to keep the press attention to a minimum, went ahead AFTER the November 2006 elections shows just how arrogant, ideological AND incompetent this Administration and it's key officials really are

If Gonzales stays on as AG, this scandal and attempted cover-up stays on, inflicting even more damage to an Administration already in free fall

If Gonzales goes, who can W get through a hostile Senate for AG confirmation, someone who could win over the Dems AND protect W and Rove from further embarrassing disclosures about how they tried to politicize the legal system for purely partisan purposes

And it's only going to get so much worse for this Administration, the most arrogant, ideological, corrupt and incompetent in US history

Posted by: KingCranky | May 9, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Any member of Congress who passively accepts Gonzales's absurd version of what took place needs to walk the plank with our lame, lame AG. Gonzales is disgraceful and apparently has no shame--just like his pathetic boss.

Posted by: mikeasr | May 9, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

A gang of criminals, that's what this administration is. The hypocrisy is so rank, so thick, you could cut it with a knife. These people, who had the audacity to say that they would restore moral leadership if elected, have engaged in nothing but outrageously immoral conduct from the minute they took office: the lies and distortions around global warming science, the collusion with the energy and oil industry in crafting policy, the appointment of partisan thugs and idiots to key positions in education, defense, and justice, the foisting of a sick neocon fantasy of Middle Eastern dominance onto a population stunned by 9/11, the torture of clearly innocent people in secret and not secret US gulags, the violations of domestic civil liberties in the name of security and patriotism, the shameless attempts to dismantle social security and medicare, or simply water these programs down to meaninglessness. I can only hope that one day there will be big time payback, but fear that there won't. These people are evil. These people are not my countrymen.

Posted by: Mom | May 9, 2007 12:02 PM | Report abuse

AG AG, so, is he still around?

Posted by: On the plantation | May 9, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

All roads in this investigation seem to lead to the Oval office. How long is the committee going to let Gonzo continue to give fresh testimonies? Get on with the business of investigating the allegations of disenfranchisement, and then, when and if it is warranted, issue indictments, and clean up this mess. The fact that the AG should suggest that the committee give up the investigation of the firings, shows that there is probably much, much more chicanery to be exposed. Speaker Pelosi, put impeachment back on the table, it's the only way forward.

Posted by: Demosthenes | May 9, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Watch for the Schultz defense. It will be a repeat of the testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Posted by: Oscar Mayer | May 9, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Here's a softball question for the embattled AG: Who gave the US Attorney in Missouri permission to announce voter fraud indictments less than 1 week before an election? Why?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

AG's comments this morning to Congress was "focus on crime"...I agree. He SHOULD focus who the crooks are in the WH by finding out where those MILLIONS of emails disapeared to...

Posted by: Just a Regular Jane | May 9, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

If Abu- Gonzales wants me to be satisfied he needs to tell us about Karl Rove's illegal and ongoing plan to politicize american courts with political cronys that can be counted on to launch indictments against Democratic party member political apponents in the run up to the 2008 election.

Oh and then he must resign or serve time in prison for politicizing the DOJ.

Posted by: JBE | May 9, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

I'm retired and maybe things have changed since I worked. But I remember when I would delegate a task to someone, my company held me responsible for what that person did. And I didn't hesitate to take the blame if they made the wrong decision. I guess I'm just old fashioned!

Posted by: Jerry | May 9, 2007 2:04 PM | Report abuse

I would ask Gonzo why he should stay on the job. What are the other decisions/issues at DOJ that he did not give proper attention?

Why did he give misleading statements about the USDA and his involvement in the process (I wasn't involved, I now know I had a meeting with the President). Why should anyone have confidence that he can do a good job?

Posted by: Pensfans | May 9, 2007 2:42 PM | Report abuse

We are told that Sessions is unclear about the AG's "grasp on power". What about the AG's grasp on reality??

Posted by: dmac22 | May 9, 2007 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Just for fun.......DEATH TO EL GOONZO!

Posted by: Butch Dillon | May 9, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Speedy Gonzales will forever be a reminder that under President Bush, the justice department became a formidable arm of the political machinations of the party in power, and can be used to punish those who speak out or fail to get in line, as the party faithful are required to do. Justice for all will become a forgotten memory of a bygone but fondly remembered past.

Posted by: Cyrano | May 9, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Nothing will happen to the AG. There was a time when a public official would step down and take responsiblity for their actions. Richard Nixon eventually stepped down for the good of the country. Gonzales is not good enough to wipe the mud off Nixon's boots or any previous AG.

Posted by: afam 212 | May 9, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Abu will stay on message. The longer George insists I do this dance, the irreparably damaged the DOJ becomes.

Posted by: sy | May 9, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Abu will stay on message. The longer George insists I do this dance, the more irreparably damaged the DOJ becomes

Posted by: sy | May 9, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

In the Gonzales situation, one of the White Houses many secrets was exposed to the public. Perhaps more time should be spent "exposing" the secrets of the White House. For instance the members of the government agreed to fund and support the Millennium Development goals that will help bring an end to global poverty. However while the white house spends $300 billion a yea in Iraq, $19 billion is missing from the funding to end starvation and malnutrition worldwide. Groups such as the Borgen Project are working to bring government attention to see that the U.S. government holds up their end of the agreement.

Posted by: Alexis | May 9, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

someone should ask forgetful Gonzales at the hearing how he can continue to work effectively when he obviously is suffering from some memory problems, given all the times he said he could not remember this and that.
perhaps he has become senile and needs medication. if a high official is so forgetful, he should see a doctor.

or was he just lying??

Posted by: inedal | May 9, 2007 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps nothing "immoral, illegal, or improper" - sadly, we'll never know because of the relativist spin that this administration puts on EVERYTHING. But I think that everyone pretty much agrees that he has definitely been incompetent, certainly as much if not more than the prosecuters that he fired (and yes, that responsibility was his). I'm so sick and tired of the low bar that this administration sets for their own. But then again, the public set a pretty low bar for the president (the guy we would most like to "have a beer with"), so I am not surprised. Just sad. Very sad.

Posted by: Deirdre | May 9, 2007 6:20 PM | Report abuse

Ignore Bush, Cheney, Rove, the WH, revenge, etc.
Justice is in need of leadership, ethics and justice.

Use the power of the purse to defund the AG and his staff unless he resigns. Why should we fund an organization where we have fundamental doubts in the leadership, competence, and believe portions of the Agency has been subverted for partisan use

Posted by: iw | May 9, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

Please cause the prepared remarks by Gonzales to be posted to the Washington Post, WE can read them. thanks.

Posted by: Jim bob | May 9, 2007 6:46 PM | Report abuse

There has just all together been too much corruption in this administration. Thankfully, all of it is surfacing right now so that it might just be able to pursuade the American people that change is needed. The fact that people are turning to the Democrats affirms that the tides are turning and the Democrats are taking on issues that really matter to the American people. From health care to education and poverty, these issues take precedence over an ever-inflating military budget that seems to bring no resolve for any country involved.

The Borgen Project states that just $19 billion annually can end starvation and $23 billon annually can reverse the spread of Malaria and AIDS. With these issues being so easily addressed, it is no wonder that a war-touting political group that doesn't believe in humanitarianism isn't doing well in the polls or with the American people.

Posted by: euni84 | May 9, 2007 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Gonzales is doing a superb job for Bush and his administration. No matter that he looks like a fool, sounds like a pre-schooler, and has completely demoralized and shredded the credibility of the Department of Justice that he (in theory) heads. Bush and Rove are pleased, and when they are happy Mr. Gonzales is happy.

Posted by: J Yoo | May 9, 2007 8:10 PM | Report abuse

Abu Gonzo will stay on message? I'm assuming the message that starts with, "Uh, Uh, Uh, Senator, I can't recall..."? Or the one that begins with "I have no recollection..." Perhaps he'll try some new ones this time. How about, "My recollection cannot recollect the answer you are trying to collect." Or maybe he should try "Senator, I'm trying to answer your question, but my brain is not present at this time." He should also try to throw in a "My memory cannot remember my rembrance of...." Or finally, a melancholy "Memories...light the corner of my mind..." Sounds absurd? Any one of these responses are about as or more reasonable than the ones he gave (or didn't give) at the previous hearing. At least it will allow him a little variety, the smarmy, smirky, little torturing cockroach. It just goes to show how little he thinks of America and her people, to think that we're so stupid to believe that he can 'not remember' his way out of this travesty. The American people will make pay for what you've done, Abu.

Posted by: coming_storm | May 9, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

Looky here, I'm a big ole fat 700 pound redneck Bush guy and Rush says that Clinton fired all them attorneys so I'm goin with the good ole boys since they have brought us where we are today. Yes'siree we good ole boy rednecks are in charge now and G.W. Bush don't take no backtalk from them commie liberals or them terrorists from Iraq. Why do the Demoncrats hate America and want the terrorists to lose? I gotta go back an watch Fox in my new double wide Barcolounger now.

Posted by: Buford | May 10, 2007 1:47 AM | Report abuse

Why this gallery of incompetent fools haven't been ousted from the White House,is beyond me. This idiot sounds like a third grader who got caught kissing the girl next door. Get rid of all of them.

Posted by: dave walker | May 10, 2007 3:19 AM | Report abuse

simple question for Gonzo. Would you hire an attorney who questioned about his previous job decisions... answered, 'I have no recollection 71 times'?
Impeach the AG

Posted by: domga | May 10, 2007 7:09 AM | Report abuse

I have to believe it is a very tough time to be a federal prosecutor -- a very demanding job requiring the utmost of integrity and skill. So many dedicated men and women serving their country, and they have to answer to the village idiots.

Posted by: and2rew | May 11, 2007 12:21 AM | Report abuse

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