Gonzales Resigns as Attorney General

Reuters Breaking News:

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has resigned from office, an official confirmed on Monday. The Justice Department refused to comment on Gonzales’ departure but has scheduled a press conference for 10:30 a.m. EDT.

Good news, if long overdue.

Oddly, President Bush not only didn’t push this move on Gonzales but apparently tried to talk him out of it, at least according to Steven Lee Myers of the NYT:

Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation, submitted his to President Bush by telephone on Friday, the official said. His decision was not announced immediately announced, the official added, until after the president invited him and his wife to lunch at his ranch near here.

Mr. Bush has not yet chosen a replacement but will not leave the position open long, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the resignation had not yet been made public.

Mr. Bush had repeatedly stood by Mr. Gonzales, an old friend and colleague from Texas, even as Mr. Gonzales faced increasing scrutiny for his leadership of the Justice Department, over issues including his role in the dismissals of nine United States attorneys late last year and whether he testified truthfully about the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs.

Earlier this month, at a news conference, Mr. Bush dismissed accusations that Mr. Gonzales had had stonewalled or misled a congressional inquiry. “We’re watching a political exercise,” Mr. Bush said. “I mean, this is a man who has testified, he’s sent thousands of papers up there. There’s no proof of wrong.”

Mr. Gonzales’s resignation is the latest in a series of high-level departures that has reshaped the end of Mr. Bush’s second term. Karl Rove, another of Mr. Bush’s close circle of aides from Texas, stepped down two weeks ago.

The official who disclosed the resignation today said that the decision was Mr. Gonzales’s and that the president accepted it grudgingly. At the same time, the official acknowledged that the turmoil over Mr. Gonzales had made his continuing as attorney general difficult. “The unfair treatment that he’s been on the receiving end of has been a distraction for the department,” the official said.

You think?

ABC News highlights several of the controversies that plagued Gonzales’ tenure, including inconsistent testimony about the firing of U.S. Attorneys and the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

U.S. NewsPaul Bedard reported Friday on rumors that Gonzales will be replaced by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who has “fans on Capitol Hill, is untouched by the Justice prosecutor scandal, and has more experience than Gonzales did, having served as a federal judge and assistant attorney general.” That move would go a long way to righting the ship at Justice. It would come at the price, though, of signaling yet again that DHS is viewed as a joke.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor 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. Dave Schuler says:

    I think less joke than sinecure which is rather disturbing.

  2. Ugh says:

    He must have gotten some independent legal advice that, ultimately, SCOTUS does not see things the way Addington/Yoo do.

  3. legion says:

    I for one cannot wait to see what sort of train wreck gets nominated to fill the AG’s shoes now. Surely no sane person, no matter how qualified, would be interested in going into the kind of meat grinder that awaits them in the confirmation hearings. Not to mention that this administration has, at every opportunity, shown that it will gladly put completely unqualified, incompetent buffoons into any position in gov’t, so long as they are totally partisan & willing to put Bush’s PR ahead of any other concern. Talent at a job is purely a happy coincidence for these jokers.

  4. floyd says:

    Someone please tell Mr. Meyers that the title is “President Bush” or “Mr. President”,not MR. Bush.
    It would be easy to name a dozen unworthy presidents, but the office is due respect.In this article,Steven Meyers uses the title “Mr.” as an epithet.
    As for Mr. Gonzales; Good riddance for all the WRONG reasons!

  5. Dale says:

    I wonder if the President will do a recess appointment? I can hear the Dems sreaming and rending their garments on the steps of the capital now.

  6. Wayne says:

    Question is which Bush Official will the Dems go after next? Any Predictions?

  7. legion says:

    That depends, Wayne… which official is most likely to be the next to cause an enormous corruption scandal, massive loss of life, get arrested for sexual deviancy, or just cause a general colossal f*ckup? Or perhaps Bush will just nominate yet another mob-tainted philandering thug to head up DHS when Chertoff moves over to DOJ? There is literally no end to the potential candidates…

  8. Tlaloc says:

    Chertoff?

    Has long term memory gone out of fashion? The guy is a total incompetent!

    Pop quiz- who was “heckuvajob” Brownie’s boss during that minor Katrina thing anyway?

  9. anjin-san says:

    Gonzales really did do the impossible. He made Ashcroft look like a stand-up guy…

  10. floyd says:

    Legion;
    Generally speaking,officials don’t cause scandals, the media do. This is usually only based on which politician they choose to focus on, not on whether there has been any scandalous activity and is nearly always politically motivated.
    You are surely smart enough not to believe the Democrats are less corrupt?
    Can you even imagine a person less qualified to spew sanctimony than Sen. Charles Schumer? Kinda turns your stomach to hear it all day doesn’t it?
    All in, the country is better off without Mr. Gonzales, just not for the reasons given.