Life is getting worse for Gonzales.

Down and on the way out.
March 27 2007 3:02 PM

Gonzo-Meter

The hot seat gets hotter.

Today's Chance of a Gonzales Departure: 75 percent

(Previously: 50 percent)

The Gonzo-Meter

This was a bad weekend for Al Gonzales. Several pieces of really bad news push the meter to 75 today. At the end of last week, the attorney general looked like he just might stay in his job. But now he's back at the center of Washington's political firestorm over the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. The worst of it, courtesy of a Friday-night document dump: Gonzales was more involved in these dismissals than he has suggested. On March 13, he said that he ''was not involved in any discussions about what was going on,'' but now it turns out he attended a meeting about the plan and signed off on it. Either he was more involved in this matter than he has admitted, or he is not paying attention at meetings. He now faces a broader question, too: whether he knowingly allowed the Justice Department to become a White House political tool or did nothing while it drifted in that direction.

Advertisement

These new disclosures about Gonzales' spotty memory caused Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel, Lindsay Graham, and Arlen Specter to sharply challenge his honesty on the weekend talk shows. And while the list of those calling for his ouster increases, there aren't any members of the GOP rushing to praise him and plead for him to keep doing the crackerjack job he's been doing so far.

And the Washington Post observes yet another creature scurrying away from the sinking ship. Monica Goodling, a Gonzales senior counselor who'd worked closely with Kyle Sampson on the U.S. attorney firings, took an "indefinite personal leave from her job on Monday."

Meanwhile, the fired U.S. attorneys are continuing their own media tour, explaining how their firings were politically motivated and parceling out new details about the political pressure they faced with almost with every news cycle. Former Washington state attorney John McKay said yesterday on Meet the Press that former White House counsel Harriet Miers asked him why Republican Party loyalists were angry with him. He took the question to be explicit political payback for not following through on a case that could have undermined a Democratic victory in a close gubernatorial race.

 Gonzales has to be thinking about what his former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, plans to say on Thursday, when he's scheduled to testify before Congress. The options appear to be limited to "I was out of control" or "My boss is untruthful." Strategy question: Would it be better for the administration for Gonzales to resign early this week, in hopes of giving the Democrats a big fish so they don't go after a bigger one (Karl Rove), or to bow out on Friday as damage control after Sampson talks? Bob Novak reminds us that President Bush won't fire his attorney general—it will be up to Gonzales to take himself out.

Any tips or thoughts? E-mail us at slatepolitics@gmail.com. (E-mail may be quoted by name unless otherwise stipulated.)

Emily Bazelon is a Slate senior editor and the Truman Capote Fellow at Yale Law School. She is the author of Sticks and Stones.

John Dickerson is Slate's chief political correspondent and author of On Her Trail. Read his series on the presidency and on risk.

Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate. Follow her on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

Chief Justice John Roberts Says $1,000 Can’t Buy Influence in Congress. Looks Like He’s Wrong.

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

Hidden Messages in Corporate Logos

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Sports Nut

Giving Up on Goodell

How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.

How Can We Investigate Potential Dangers of Fracking Without Being Alarmist?

My Year as an Abortion Doula       

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 16 2014 9:22 AM The Most Populist Campaign of 2014
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Atlas Obscura
Sept. 16 2014 8:00 AM The Wall Street Bombing: Low-Tech Terrorism in Prohibition-era New York
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 16 2014 9:13 AM Clive James, Terminally Ill, Has Written an Exquisitely Resigned Farewell Poem
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 16 2014 7:36 AM The Inspiration Drought Why our science fiction needs new dreams.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 16 2014 7:30 AM A Galaxy of Tatooines
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.