Ashcroft and Evans Resign from Cabinet
Attorney General John Ashcroft, a favorite of conservatives, and Commerce Secretary Don Evans, one of President Bush’s closest friends, resigned Tuesday, the first members of the Cabinet to leave as Bush heads from re-election into his second term. Both Ashcroft and Evans have served in Bush’s Cabinet from the start of the administration.
Ashcroft, in a five-page, handwritten letter to Bush, said, “The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved.” “Yet I believe that the Department of Justice would be well served by new leadership and fresh inspiration,” said Ashcroft, whose health problems earlier this year resulted in removal of his gall bladder. “I believe that my energies and talents should be directed toward other challenging horizons,” he said. Ashcroft’s letter was dated Nov. 2, Election Day.
Evans, a longtime friend from Texas, wrote Bush, “While the promise of your second term shines bright, I have concluded with deep regret that it is time for me to return home.”
Bush issued statements of praise for both men Ã¢€“ and for the policies they advanced.
“John Ashcroft has worked tirelessly to help make our country safer,” the president said. “John has served our nation with honor, distinction, and integrity.” Bush’s farewell to Evans was more effusive and more personal, fitting to their more than three decades of friendship dating to the oil business in Midland, Texas, where they would attend church together and meet every day for a three-mile jog. “Don Evans is one of my most trusted friends and advisers,” Bush said. “Don has worked to advance economic security and prosperity for all Americans. He has worked steadfastly to make sure America continues to be the best place in the world to do business.”
Ashcroft, 62, has been well liked by many conservatives. At the same time, he has been a lightning rod for criticism of his handling of the U.S. end of the war against terror, especially the detention of terror suspects.
While much of the criticism leveled against Ashcroft has been unfair–any AG would have stepped on some toes in the wake of 9/11–a fresh start will be good for the country. Evan’s tenure has been much less noteworthy.