Today on CBS’s Face the Nation, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. Schumer said Gonzales has “been even more political than his predecessor, Attorney General Ashcroft,” and that Gonzales “either doesn’t accept or doesn’t understand that he is no longer just the president’s lawyer, but has a higher obligation to the rule of law and the Constitution, even when the president should not want it to be so.”
“For the sake of the nation,” Schumer said, “Attorney General Gonzales should step down.” Watch it:
Schumer’s call echoes a New York Times editorial this morning. The Times examined Gonzales’ record beyond the U.S. Attorney purge and the FBI’s Patriot Act violations:
— Gonzales “repeatedly defended Mr. Bush’s decision to authorize warrantless eavesdropping on Americans’ international calls and e-mail.”
— Gonzalez “was an eager public champion of the absurd notion that as commander in chief during a time of war, Mr. Bush can ignore laws that he thinks get in his way.”
— Gonzales “was disdainful of any attempt by Congress to examine the spying program, let alone control it.”
— Gonzales “helped formulate and later defended the policies that repudiated the Geneva Conventions in the war against terror, and that sanctioned the use of kidnapping, secret detentions, abuse and torture.”
— Gonzales “has been central to the administration’s assault on the courts, which he recently said had no right to judge national security policies, and on the constitutional separation of powers.”
— Under Gonzales, the Justice Department “has abandoned its duties as guardian of election integrity and voting rights. It approved a Georgia photo-ID law that a federal judge later likened to a poll tax, a case in which Mr. Gonzales’s political team overrode the objections of the department’s professional staff.”
— Under Gonzales, the Justice Department “has been shamefully indifferent to complaints of voter suppression aimed at minority voters. But it has managed to find the time to sue a group of black political leaders in Mississippi for discriminating against white voters.”
SCHIEFFER: Senator Schumer, what do you think ought to be done about this situation?
SCHUMER: Well, Bob, you know, the Justice Department is different than any other department. In every other department, the chief cabinet officer is supposed to follow the president’s orders, request, without exception.
But the Justice Department has a higher responsibility: rule of law and the Constitution. And Attorney General Gonzales in his department has been even more political than his predecessor, Attorney General Ashcroft.
Attorney General Gonzales is a nice man. But he either doesn’t accept or doesn’t understand that he is no longer just the president’s lawyer, but has a higher obligation to the rule of law and the Constitution, even when the president should not want it to be so. And so this department has been so political that I think for the sake of the nation, Attorney General Gonzales should step down.