At a press briefing moments ago, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) renewed his call for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to step down, saying the resignation of Gonzales’ chief of staff Kyle Sampson only “raises the temperature” on Gonzales.
“Kyle Sampson will not become the next Scooter Libby, the next fall guy,” Schumer said. “Either Attorney General Gonzales knew what his chief of staff was doing — that’s a pretty severe indictment — or he didn’t, which means he doesn’t have the foggiest idea of what’s going on in the Justice Department.”
Sampson resigned yesterday “after acknowledging that he did not tell other Justice officials who testified to Congress about the extent of his communications with the White House, leading them to provide incomplete information in their testimony.” Schumer said today that Kyle “may well have obstructed justice.” Watch it:
SCHUMER: This weekend, I called for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to step down. Today’s staff resignation does not take heat off the Attorney General. In fact, it raises the temperature. Kyle Sampson will not become the next Scooter Libby, the next fall guy. Either Attorney General Gonzales knew what his chief of staff was doing — that’s a pretty severe indictment — or he didn’t, which means he doesn’t have the foggiest idea of what’s going on in the Justice Department. We now have direct evidence that Attorney General Gonzales was carrying out the political wishes of the President in at least some of these firings. A startling amount of information about the White House’s role has emerged in the past few days. Attorney General Gonzales’ chief of staff withheld information on the White House’s role in the Justice Department in terms of who was preparing to testify to Congress. Attorney Gonzales’ chief of staff may well have obstructed justice. Political operatives and elected officials in New Mexico complained about one U.S. Attorney’s failure to indict Democrats quickly enough. Those complaints were passed on to Karl Rove and to the President himself. The President weighed in with Attorney General Gonzales and within weeks that U.S. Attorney, David Iglesias, was fired. Indeed, today’s reports make clear that Mr. Iglesias was not on the hit list until October, just when he was staving off inappropriate pressure tactics. So if he wasn’t on the list when the list was made up, and then you get the phone calls from the White House and from legislators and then he’s added to the list? What conclusion other than political interference can one come to? It’s now increasingly clear that only bad actors in this case — sorry, it is now increasingly clear that the only bad actors in this case were top officials in the White House and Justice Department, not — not — U.S. Attorneys, fine public servants who were fired. Attorney General Gonzales has either forgotten the oath he took to uphold the Constitution or just doesn’t understand that his duty to protect the law is greater than his duty to protect the President. He’s a nice man. You meet the Attorney General and you say, he is not one of these sort of, you know, political warriors. But there’s too much at stake here, and to have somebody who is going to let this happen or be part of it happening is just no longer — we can’t countenance it any longer. U.S. Attorneys have always been above politics and this administration has blatantly manipulated the U.S. Attorney system to serve its political needs. Years from now when someone’s indicted and they claim political interference, it’s going to have new truth, even if that person was justifiably indicted, new resonance. That’s the problem here. And we’ve been fed one story after another. That’s why Sen. feinstein and i are so upset, as all of us on the judiciary committee are, from Chairman Leahy on down.