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Attorney General Gonzales resigns, officials say


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Kristina
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« on: August 27, 2007, 08:43:39 am »

Attorney General Gonzales resigns, officials say
Story Highlights
NEW: Crisis "allowed justice system to be corrupted," says Sen. Leahy

Top Gonzales officials knew nothing about move in advance, sources say

Bush to make a statement at 11:30 a.m. ET from Texas

Homeland Security chief Chertoff likely replacement, officials say

Next Article in Politics


 
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Embattled U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has resigned, senior administration officials told CNN Monday.



Alberto Gonzales was dogged by controversial issues including wiretapping programs and fired U.S. attorneys.

 President Bush is expected to make a statement about Gonzales at 11:30 a.m. from his ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he has been vacationing.

Gonzales aides at the highest level and other top-level officials knew nothing about the announcement in advance, Justice Department sources indicated to CNN.

They were not informed until a meeting this morning, sources said, when Gonzales acknowledged he would be reading a statement at 10:30 a.m. ET.  Watch how critics said Gonzales had become a distraction

Gonzales and his wife Becky had lunch with Bush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch on Sunday.

Bush will likely nominate Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to the position, senior administration officials said. Chertoff has headed Homeland Security since 2005. He served as a federal appellate court judge and is a former federal prosecutor.

Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, would replace Chertoff, the officials said.

Johnson, a longtime friend of Bush, served as the president's chief of staff and appointments secretary when Bush was governor of Texas and was executive director of the Bush-Cheney transition team.

Many lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have long called for his ouster after the firing of several U.S. attorneys in 2006. Bush had long stood by Gonzales.

In a statement, Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, said Gonzales was responsible for a "severe crisis of leadership that allowed our justice system to be corrupted by political influence."

Leahy called the experience "a lesson to those in the future who hold these high offices, so that law enforcement is never subverted in this way again."

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards said the move was "better late than never."

Another of Gonzales' chief critics, Sen. Charles E. Schumer, hailed the move by Gonzales.

"Well I think that clearly this was the right thing to do," the New York Democrat told CNN. "It took a long time but there is no question about it that the Justice Department is virtually non-functional."

Schumer added that, "no one thought Alberto Gonzales was up to the job" saying that "we need someone who will put rule of law first."

Don't Miss
Gonzales a loyal voice for Bush
Gonzales' move comes after Bush's chief political strategist Karl Rove announced his resignation earlier this month. Senior administration officials said White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten had told senior aides that if they intended to stay after Labor Day, plan to remain for the rest of Bush's term through January 2009.

Throughout Gonzales' time as attorney general, controversies surrounded his positions on issues such as U.S. interrogation techniques and the wiretapping of conversations between Americans and suspected terrorists overseas.

This year, after Congress began an investigation into the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, Gonzales faced a great deal of scrutiny -- and the calls for his dismissal began.

The Senate Judiciary Committee looked into whether the administration may have fired some or all of them for political reasons. In his testimony before the committee on multiple occasions, Gonzales repeatedly seemed to contradict himself, other members of his department, or Justice Department documents.

The attorney general also testified that he could not answer dozens of questions because he could not "recall" certain incidents or meetings.


A longtime friend and legal adviser to the president, Gonzales was nominated by Bush in November, 2004, and confirmed by the Senate in February, 2005.

Other White House officials who have left in the wake of the 2006 election include White House counselor Dan Bartlett, budget director Rob Portman, chief White House attorney Harriet Miers, political director Sara Taylor, deputy national security adviser J.D. Crouch and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. E-mail to a friend


http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/08/27/gonzales/index.html
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