"CAUGHT ON TAPE: Gonzales Lies Under Oath"
As ThinkProgress noted earlier this week, on Jan. 18, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee, under oath, that the Bush administration never intended to take advantage of a Patriot Act provision that allows the President to appoint “interim” U.S. attorneys for an indefinite period of time, without Senate confirmation.
I am fully committed, as the administration’s fully committed, to ensure that, with respect to every United States attorney position in this country, we will have a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed United States attorney.
The Washington Post published a front-page story yesterday on these remarks. ThinkProgress has located video of Gonzales apparently lying to Congress. Watch it:
But Justice Department emails from Dec. 2006 released this week show that Gonzales’s then-chief of staff Kyle Sampson intended to use this provision to make an end-run around the Senate:
There is some risk that we’ll lose the authority, but if we don’t ever exercise it then what’s the point of having it?
As the Post reported yesterday, “Gonzales has declined to address the apparent contradictions in detail, saying only that he was unaware of the specifics of the plan that Sampson was orchestrating.” Asked on Wednesday if he thinks any Bush officials have committed perjury, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) said, “We’ll find that out.”
GONZALES: And so let me publicly sort of preempt perhaps a question you’re going to ask me, and that is: I am fully committed, as the administration’s fully committed, to ensure that, with respect to every United States attorney position in this country, we will have a presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed United States attorney.
I think a United States attorney who I view as the leader, law enforcement leader, my representative in the community — I think he has greater imprimatur of authority, if in fact that person’s been confirmed by the Senate.