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Monday, August 27, 2007

Gonzales resigns as US attorney general: NYT
Jeannie Shawl at 8:28 AM ET

[JURIST] The New York Times is reporting that US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive] has resigned from his post after months of controversy over the Justice Department's handling of the firings of eight US Attorneys [JURIST news archive] and subsequent allegations that he may have perjured himself [JURIST report] in testimony before Congress. According to the Times, Gonzales submitted his resignation Friday and a formal announcement will be made later Monday morning. The New York Times has more.

Several US senators called for a special prosecutor last month to investigate the perjury allegations, while some members of the US House of Representatives pushed for an impeachment inquiry [JURIST reports]. Gonzales acknowledged that his disputed testimony [transcript] before the Senate Judiciary Committee on July 24 was confusing [JURIST report], but has insisted that he testified truthfully. The perjury allegations arose after FBI Director Robert Mueller contradicted testimony [JURIST report] given by Gonzales concerning a 2004 discussion of intelligence activities. Mueller testified before the House Judiciary Committee that there was dissent within the administration concerning the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program [JURIST news archive], but Gonzales had earlier said that then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey did not express concerns about recertifying the program. In his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gonzales insisted that Comey's reservations concerned another undisclosed intelligence program and not the domestic surveillance program as widely reported. There have also been reports that a 2006 Director of National Intelligence memorandum contradicts Gonzales' testimony on reauthorization of the surveillance program and that a 2004 FBI memorandum [JURIST reports] contradicts testimony Gonzales provided in 2005 on renewal of the Patriot Act.

Even before Gonzales came under fire for his testimony, his conduct in the US Attorney firings scandal was widely criticized [JURIST report] by key Congressional leaders from both parties as damaging to the US Justice Department and the Bush administration. Gonzales maintained during testimony [JURIST report] before the Senate Judiciary Committee in April that "nothing improper occurred" with the firings of the eight US Attorneys, though he acknowledged that he had made "misstatements" during previous comments. He later identified outgoing Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty as playing a key role [JURIST report] in the decision on which prosecutors to fire. Gonzales' former chief of staff Kyle Sampson resigned [DOJ press release] over the scandal as did Monica Goodling [JURIST report], another top Gonzales aide. McNulty announced his resignation in May, though he attributed the decision to personal reasons, and McNulty's chief of staff resigned [JURIST reports] in June.

Calls for Gonzales' resignation also mounted after Comey testified [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] that while serving as White House Counsel, Gonzales visited then-Attorney General John Ashcroft while Ashcroft was in the hospital to persuade him to reauthorize the controversial domestic surveillance program. Gonzales subsequently denied [JURIST report] pressuring Ashcroft while he was in the hospital. Earlier this month, some of Mueller's personal notes [PDF text] were released which indicated that Ashcroft was not fully lucid [JURIST report] during the March 2004 visit from Gonzales.

Gonzales was sworn in as attorney general [JURIST report] in February 2005 after serving as White House counsel.
ALSO ON JURIST

 Op-ed: Firing Gonzales For All the Right Reasons | Op-ed: No One Is Above the Law: New DOJ Leadership Needed






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