Friday, April 20, 2007
Gonzales self-immolates..and the impeachment rumblings ratchet up
Attorney General Alberto Gonazales has had a remarkably bad last couple of days.
The furor over the firing of 8 federal prosecutors for what appear to be partisan motives under his watch remains a scandal that refuses to die, and his evasiveness, apologetic manner and obvious discomfort in testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee have only increased the calls for his resignation.
Time and again Thursday, the Attorney General said he had a hazy memory about his role in the firings of eight federal prosecutors. Seventy-one times, in fact.
Gonzales has admitted what he called `mistakes' but insisted: "It would be improper to remove a U.S. attorney to interfere with, or influence a particular prosecution for partisan political gain. I did not do that. I would never do that."
Senators on the committee -- both Democrats and Republicans -- weren't persuaded in the least...and many of them seem to want Gonzales gone.
"The best way to put this behind us is your resignation," said Senator Tom Coburn (r-OK).
"For the good of the country, resign," said Senator Charles Schumer(d-NY).
Jeff Sessions(r-AL) also had some hard words about the Attorney General "I think it's going to be difficult for him to be an effective leader," said Sessions, a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee and former federal prosecutor.
"At this point, I think (Gonzales) should be given a chance to think it through and talk to the president about what his future should be."
A major turning point in the hearings was Gonzales' inability to recall attending a November 27, 2006 meeting at which the firings were discussed...even when documents provided by the Justice Department show he was present at the meeting!
Calling most of Gonzales' explanations for the firings "a stretch," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham ( r-SC) plainly thought that the firings simply came down to personality conflicts the Justice Department and White House had with the former prosecutors.
"You said something that struck me — that sometimes it just came down to these were not the right people at the right time," said Graham. "If I applied that standard to you, what would you say?"
That one brought gales of laughter from some of the spectators the gallery, particularly when Gonzales responded:"I believe that I continue to be effective as the attorney general of the United States. We've done some great things."
Senator Chuck Grassley ( r-IA) also hit out at Gonzales, criticizing him for now accepting responsibility for the firings after initially saying he had played only a minor role. "Why is your story changing?" Grassley asked.
In response, like the lawyer he is, Gonzales replied that his earlier answers had been "overbroad," the result of inadequate preparation.
Translation? He's been instructed by the President to take the heat for carrying out the President's orders, which is all cabinet officers like the Attorney General do anyway.
This is hardly going to be the last attack on the Bush Administration or on the President,given the climate in Washington these days. Dennis Kucinich ( d-IL) has already said that he will introduce impeachment articles against Bush and Cheney without specifying what grounds he plans to proceed on, and Henry Waxman ( d-CA) the new head of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is is considering a subpoena for Condi Rice an dother White House figures as part of a number of frenetic investigations he's pursuing.
Waxman announced Friday that his panel will hold a business meeting next Wednesday to consider whether to issue four subpoenas for testimony and documents. According to the committee’s press release, the subpoenas are aimed at obtaining:
- Rice’s testimony regarding the fabricated claim that Iraq sought uranium from Niger and other pre-war intelligence issues;
- the testimony of former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card regarding the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert identity and White House security procedures;
- Republican National Committee (RNC) documents related to possible violations of the Presidential Records Act and the Hatch Act by White House officials;
- and contacts between the White House and MZM, a federal contractor implicated in bribery charges.
With all the relentless digging going on and a partisan hack and confirmed Bush hater like John Conyers in command of the House Judiciary Committee, it's not looking like impeachment proceedings is the most off-the-wall call at the moment.
And remember...if it succeeds,we will have none other than Nancy Pelosi as president, which has probably been the goal all along.