Today's Chance of a Gonzales Departure: 86.5 percent
(Yesterday's chance: 86.5 percent)
The talk shows were not kind to Alberto Gonzales on Sunday. On Fox, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell ducked when asked if he continues to support the attorney general. "I can honestly say the president does," said McConnell, R-Ky. The best he could do was to back giving Gonzales a chance to testify before the Senate. We're holding the Gonzo-Meter steady and high at 86.5.
That's not in dispute; the attorney general's appearance is scheduled for April 17. But his bid to testify sooner—as the White House called for this weekend in Dan Barlett's appearance on ABC—is going nowhere, said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who chairs the Senate judiciary committee. The Democrats in Congress are busy "interrogating" several other Department of Justice officials, Leahy explained on NBC. Those interviews are taking place privately. But the deal that Congress struck with DoJ includes transcripts. So, the Democrats can tunnel into all the misstatements and inconsistencies that have come out of Justice during the last several weeks, pore over the transcripts, and then line up quotes to trip up Gonzales when he shows up in two weeks. He'll have to do some sharp and smooth talking, which hasn't exactly been his strength till now.
You would think the Bush administration would want to put its attorney general and itself out of this misery. You'd think they want to stanch the flow of stories like this one on Sunday in the Washington Post. Amy Goldstein and Dan Eggen report that of four dozen U.S. attorney slots that have opened up because of attrition and dismissals since the 2004 election, one-third have gone to "trusted administration insiders," including "10 senior aides" to Gonzales. Some of the appointees have no experience as prosecutors or connection to the region they were sent to.
This is not the way U.S. attorneys have been chosen in previous administrations. And those administrations would have been embarrassed by such stories. But apparently not this one. The Bush administration truly seems to think it's special.