Today's Chance of a Gonzales Departure: 86 percent
(Previously: 83 percent)
Newt Gingrich thinks Alberto Gonzales should resign. "I cannot imagine how he is going to be effective for the rest of this administration," he said over the weekend. You'd think that, having called Spanish the "language of living in the ghetto," Gingrich might be sufficiently worried about the Hispanic vote to have the attorney general's back. Instead, he's jumped onto the short but growing list of Republicans who have come out against Gonzales and Bush. Not a good sign. Nor is the sudden resignation on Friday of former Gonzales aide Monica "I take the Fifth" Goodling. We move the meter back up to 86.
We also don't like Gonzales' chances because having reconfigured his entire schedule to attend his prep sessions, he now looks to be screwing them up. According to Newsweek, his aides aren't letting him go on TV because at internal questioning sessions, he contradicts himself and gets mixed up about the timeline of events leading up to the U.S. attorney dismissals. To boot, because of DoJ's internal ethics investigation into the matter, Gonzales can't talk to his deputy, Paul McNulty, about who did what when. So he's holed up by himself, with nary a public event scheduled, spending hours going over documents. Newt is right: This isn't the way to honcho national law enforcement.
Meanwhile, the Pandora's box of the DoJ scandal seems to have no bottom. The department at first said that former New Mexico U.S. attorney David Iglesias was fired in part for "absentee landlordism" because he had to travel to fulfill his commitments as a reserve officer in the military. But it's illegal to discriminate on the job against members of the military, so now a federal agency is investigating.
Before their dismissals, Iglesias and fired Washington State prosecutor John McKay refused to indict Democrats on what they viewed as unsupportable corruption charges. In Wisconsin, U.S. attorney Steve Bikuspic may have been more accommodating. Before the 2004 election, he went after state employee Georgia Thompson for awarding a contract to a contributor to the campaign of her boss, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. Thompson was sent to jail. Republicans cried corruption and made great hay with the Thompson charges in campaign advertising. Doyle won anyway. When Thompson appealed her conviction, judges on the Seventh Circuit last week sprung her from prison, immediately after oral argument and even before issuing a ruling. One of the judges on the panel accused the government of relying on evidence that was "beyond thin." Is this really the grist the Bush administration wants to give liberal editorial pages?
And in other bad news for the Justice Department, it appears that three of the top deputies in Minnesota were less than delighted with their new boss, Rachel Paulose. They stepped down on Friday, allegedly over differences with the new U.S. attorney, who is (a) 34, (b) a former aide to Paul McNulty, and (c) was given an interim U.S. attorney gig last year.
Somehow, none of this damage seems to be enough to push Gonzales out before he testifies to Congress on April 17. If he's smart, he'll use his day to make a fuller apology. But then what—how do you inspire confidence about such an utterly un-confidence-inspiring series of events?