Why Gonzales’ Excuse Doesn’t Cut It

Alberto Gonzales argues that the 12-hour head start he gave to Andrew Card before he instructed the White House staff to preserve documents related to Plame leak was appropriate because he got permission from the Department of Justice. According to Gonzales, he contacted the Department of Justice about it and was told: “Go ahead and notify the staff early in the morning. That would be OK.”

Bob Schieffer noted yesterday that the 12-hour window gave “people time to shred documents and do any number of things.”

Remember: at the time, the investigation was controlled by former Attorney General John Ashcroft. Karl Rove “worked for Ashcroft over the course of two decades.” After Ashcroft lost his Senate seat in 2000 Rove “lobbied intensely for his former employer’s nomination” to Attorney General.

In December 2003, Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation amidst criticism that his close ties to Rove and others in the White House created a conflict of interest.