Last year we covered the US attorney firing scandal as much, if not more, than all the major political blogs. We watched from the very beginning as a few reports of firings turned into a legislative investigation of the Justice Department for firing nearly a dozen US attorneys for political reasons, which destroyed the career of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
Now, in the year following his resignation, Gonzales is having a difficult time getting hired:
Alberto R. Gonzales, like many others recently unemployed, has discovered how difficult itcan be to find a new job. Mr. Gonzales, the former attorney general,who was forced to resign last year, has been unable to interest lawfirms in adding his name to their roster, Washington lawyers and hisassociates said in recent interviews.
He has, through friends, put out inquiries, they said, and has notfound any takers. What makes Mr. Gonzales???¬??s case extraordinary is thatformer attorneys general, the government???¬??s chief lawyer, are typicallyhighly sought.
Even Rumsfeld was able to find work somewhere else. This is pretty bad.
White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolton and White House Counsel Harriet Miers have been held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with subpoenas issued in connection with the US attorney firing scandal. This move by the House Judiciary Committee, headed by John Conyers, now brings the matter to a full House vote. If passed in the House, the contempt charges will move to the Senate. If the Senate votes in favor, the two White House members could face fines and jail time (between one and twelve months) for obstructing the work of Congress.
This morning, the New York Times Editorial Board supported Conyers' contempt decision, and wrote that the White House wouldn't be in this mess if they didn't use the Justice Department as their political arm:
They had no right to refuse. Congress has the legal power to callwitnesses to testify, and presidential advisers are not exempt.Conservative lawyers like Bruce Fein agree that the administration???¬??sclaims of executive privilege are baseless. If the White House believesspecific matters are privileged, it needs to make those limited claims.
Such defiance is not only illegal, it has seriously obstructedCongress???¬??s ability to get to the bottom of the United States attorneysscandal. It now appears that the scandal reaches beyond the ninefederal prosecutors who were fired for refusing to allow their officesto be politicized. It seems quite possible that others, includingGeorgia Thompson, a civil servant in Wisconsin, and Don Siegelman, aformer governor of Alabama, were put in prison ???¬??? and Mr. Siegelmanremains there ???¬??? to help Republicans win elections.
Just asimportant, by ignoring valid Congressional subpoenas, Ms. Miers and Mr.Bolten are dangerously challenging Congress???¬??s power ???¬??? and the carefulsystem of checks and balances established by the founders.
Is it just me who thinks this, or are Henry Waxman and John Conyers the only House members actually doing anything?
So much has happened over the month of August. If you were gone on vacation, you missed the beginning of the end of what has been a dreadful era in Washington. Today was Karl Rove's last day. A few days ago, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced his resignation. Earlier on Friday, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said that he would step down. His deputy Dana Perino will take over. John Warner, the elder statesman who recent has distanced himself from Bush's Iraq policy, will not seek reelection in 2008. All of these changes come in the midst of yet another sex scandal involving a closet Republican. Larry Craig, the Senator involved, will likely resign.
This Labor Day weekend pretty much marks the beginning of the countdown to the end of this brand of leadership in Washington. Populism is back. In both presidential fields, the populist candidates are the rock stars -- Barack Obama and John Edwards on the Democratic side, and Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul on the Republican end. The establishment is crumbling in the wake of its own clumsiness, and quite frankly because they have failed to get anything done except for dragging up the national debt, supporting a failed foreign policy, and making us less prepared to respond to disasters.
We are approaching the end of the line. It will be important to evaluate the 2008 presidential, Senate, and House candidates closely, and pick populist leaders to run our government for years to come. Let's hope we learned our lesson.
Alberto Gonzales is not out of the woods just yet. The Inspector General at the Justice Department is investigating whether the former Attorney General perjured himself in front of Congress in July. In other words, the career professionals inside the government might try to make an example out of him:
The disclosure, by Glenn A. Fine, the department???¬??s inspectorgeneral, came in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee and was thefirst official confirmation that Mr. Gonzales was under investigationwithin the executive branch over the truthfulness of his testimony. Thecommittee???¬??s chairman, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont, had requested the inquiry this month.
Forweeks, lawmakers from both parties have questioned whether Mr. Gonzalestold the truth in sworn statements to Congress on a number of issues,including his involvement in efforts to preserve the National Security Agency's program of wiretapping without warrants, as well as his role in last year???¬??s dismissals of several United States Attorneys for what appeared to be political reasons.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Pat Leahy (D-VT) sent out a press release thanking the Inspector General for his efforts.
Maybe the real question worth asking is whether Gonzales resigned because he thought it might lessen the chances of him being investigated. Glenn Fine does not care. Gonzales tarnished the reputation of a department whose purpose is to oversee the enforcement of US law. A lot of career professionals who worked their entire lives to be part of that agency are angry. Gonzales will not get off easy. He will probably have to testify.
With the news that Michael Chertoff may be Bush's top choice to replaceAlbert Gonazales, I thought it would be appropriate to post this video of his(what I believe to be) incompetence. So sit back and watch the show, then askyourself "is this the guy that deserves or is qualified to be the next AttorneyGeneral of The United States"? I'm sure if he is chosen, the petitions will start flying again (hopefully).
Tim Russert exposed the lies that came from the administration after Katrina
Well another Bushee has left the building! I'd like to think I helped by signing a few of the many of petitions out there calling for Gonzales's resignation. "I can't recall" exactly how many I did sign, but as they popped up, I signed.
WACO, Tex., Aug. 27 ???¬??? Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales,whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjurybefore Congress, announced his resignation in Washington today,declaring that he had ???¬?lived the American dream???¬?? by being able to leadthe Justice Department
Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation for months,submitted it to President Bush by telephone on Friday, a senioradministration official said. There had been rumblings over the weekendthat Mr. Gonzales???¬??s departure was imminent, although the White Housesought to quell the rumors. Readon...
I am sure this will be an interesting week of news. I suppose we'll have FNC(Fox) telling us "come on, the guy wanted to spend time with hisfamily", then go into a few rants about some of the fallen Democrats.
Evidence right here proves that Alberto Gonzales not only lied to Congress about the Ashcroft hospital visit, but that Gonzales and Andrew Card harassed Ashcroft to the point that he felt threatened and told his security detail to intervene.
Notes written by FBI Director Robert Mueller, recently turned over to Congressional investigators, indicate that then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was pressured from his hospital bed by Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card to authorize the warrantless eavesdropping program. That part we have known for quite sometime, even though last month Gonzales lied to Congress about it ever happening.
What is particularly interesting about these notes is they show that after the sneaky hospital visit took place, Attorney General Ashcroft ordered his security detail to not let anyone, except family, into his hospital room.
@1920: Called by DAG while at restaurant with wife and daughter. He is at AG's hospital with Goldsmith and Philbin. Tells me Card and J. Gonzales are on the way to hospital to see AG, but that AG is in no condition to see them, much less make decision to authorize continuation of the program. Asks me to come to AG's hospital to witness condition of AG.
@1940: At hospital. Card and J. Gonzales have come and gone. Comey tells me that they saw the AG and were told by the AG that he was in no condition to decide issues, and that Comey was the Acting AG. All matters were to be taken to him, but that he supported the Acting AG's position. The AG then reviewed for them the legal concerns relating to the program. The AG also told them that he was barred from obtaining the advice he needed on the program by the strict compartmentalization rules of the WH. Comey asked me to meet briefly with the AG to see his condition. He also asked that I inform the detail that no visitors, other than family, were to be allowed to see the AG without my consent. (I so informed the detail.)
Let me paint this picture as best I can. There are three angles to this internal feud:
President Bush, who was uninformed about the inner struggle within his own Administration to install the warrantless wiretap program.
Attorney General John Ashcroft, Deputy Attorney General James Comey and FBI Director Robert Mueller -- all of whom were against the program.
Vice President Dick Cheney, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card -- all of whom supported warrantless wiretaps.
The program needed to be authorized by Attorney General Ashcroft, who was in intensive care following a gallstone emergency. So Cheney sent Gonzales and Card to pressure a sick Ashcroft from his hospital bed to authorize the program. When James Comey heard they were on their way to the hospital, he was furious:
"I was angry," Comey testified. "I thought I just witnessed an effortto take advantage of a very sick man, who did not have the powers ofthe attorney general because they had been transferred to me."
So as we learned from Robert Mueller's notes above, Comey quickly called the FBI Director and told him to get down to the hospital and intervene immediately. It was too late. Although Gonzales and Card did not convince Ashcroft, they certainly did harass him to the point that he eventually decided to give new orders to his security detail.
Of course, following true to form, Alberto Gonzales went under oath last month and denied that he and Card pressured Ashcroft on that specific program that day. These notes prove otherwise. That is perjury.
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On Friday, new documents showed that Justice Department officials attended at least twelve partisan meetings at the White House, which is peculiar if not down-right illegal. Most importantly, the report contradicts Alberto Gonzales, who said last week that no such meetings took place:
Justice Department officials attended at least a dozen political briefings at the White House since 2001, including some meetings led by Karl Rove, President Bush'chief political adviser, and others that were focused on electiontrends prior to the 2006 midterm contest, according to documentsreleased yesterday.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committeelast week that he did not believe that senior Justice Departmentofficials had attended such briefings. But he clarified his testimonyyesterday in a letter to Congress, emphasizing that the briefings werenot held at the agency's offices.
Internal guidelines forbid partisan meetings at the Justice Departmentand sharply restrict the ability of employees to participate directlyin election campaigns or other political activities, a Justice officialsaid yesterday.
What business did Justice Department officials have listening in on discussions by Karl Rove about electoral trends in 2006? This also might violate the Hatch Act.
In the Blue Radar this morning, I touched on the fact that Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA) would submit a resolution for articles of impeachment against Alberto Gonzales today. What I didn't know was that the House coalition sponsoring this bill was extremely diverse in ideology, and almost all of the lawmakers practiced law.
Directing the Committee on the Judiciary to investigate whether AlbertoR. Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States, should be impeachedfor high crimes and misdemeanors. 1 Resolved, That the Committee on the Judiciary shall 2 investigate fully whether sufficient grounds exist for the 3 House of Representatives to impeach Alberto R. Gonzales, 4 Attorney General of the United States, for high crimes 5 and misdemeanors.
On Sunday, Senator Pat Leahy (D-VT), Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said he would give Alberto Gonzales one week to re-clarify his statements from last week's testimony. Gonzales' statements have already been contradicted by federal documents and the FBI Director. But as of this morning, according to Newsweek, Gonzales stands by his story.
That means many Democrats will stand by impeachment as the most appropriate option.
Alberto Gonzales is in it for the long haul unless it puts Cheney's job in jeopardy. A recent NYT story revealed that Dick Cheney, not President Bush, sent Alberto Gonzales in 2004 to pressure heavily sedated, bed-ridden Attorney General John Ashcroft to stop resisting the warrantless eavesdropping program. In other words, Gonzales is Cheney's man.
Then again, doesn't everyone answer to Cheney? As former vice president Walter Mondale wrote in yesterday's Washington Post, Dick Cheney controls what the President hears, knows and decides:
Through his vast government experience, through the friends he hadbeen able to place in key positions and through his considerablepolitical skills, he has been increasingly able to determine theanswers to questions put to the president -- because he has been ableto determine the questions. It was Cheney who persuaded President Bushto sign an order that denied access to any court by foreign terrorismsuspects and Cheney who determined that the Geneva Conventions did notapply to enemy combatants captured in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Ratherthan subject his views to an established (and rational) vettingprocess, his practice has been to trust only his immediate staff beforetaking ideas directly to the president. Many of the ideas that Bush hassubsequently bought into have proved offensive to the values of theConstitution and have been embarrassingly overturned by the courts.
So actually our current Vice President is really the man in charge. All decisions will be made in a way that benefits Cheney, not Bush. For example, President Bush is already slated to go down as probably the worst president since the Great Depression. Dick Cheney, on the other hand, will go down as the most powerful and politically influential vice president since Harry Truman. That is Cheney's legacy. He knows what he is doing -- even if the 'what' is hurting our country.