Ashcroft and Evans Resign from Cabinet

Ashcroft, Evans resign from Bush Cabinet (AP)

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 – 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.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Ashcroft, Evans resign from Cabinet
    Steven Taylor has the details. Other blogging: Atrios Burnt Orange Report BoiFromTroy Wonkette James Joyner…

  2. BoiFromTroy says:

    Au Revoir, Ashcroft!
    Attorney General John Ashcroft and Secretary of Commerce Don Evans have resigned from the Cabinet. Somehow, I think if the news of Ashcroft’s departure had surfaced 8 days ago, Bush would have won by 8–not three–points. Reactions elsewhere: Atrios: …

  3. Kathy K says:

    He should have been replaced on Sept 12, 2001.

  4. Anjin-San says:

    From Ashcroft’s resignation letter, as reported by AP:

    In a five-page, handwritten letter, Ashcroft told Bush, “The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved.

    We are now safe from terror? (and crime)… What alternated universe does this guy live in?

  5. Sortapundit says:

    John Ashcroft, Don Evans Resign
    Opinions on Ashcroft vary from ‘the most underappreciated, most maligned, most ridiculed, and most demonized member of the Bush cabinet’ to ‘right wing lunatic’. Unsurprising that an AG serving in the wake of 9/11 would ruffle a few feathers.

    O…

  6. Ashcroft–
    I can’t say I’m particularly disappointed to see John Ashcroft getting shown the door at DoJ, although his caricature as the bogeyman of America’s civil liberties has been just a tad exaggerated over the years.