Attorney General Alberto Gonzales appeared on radio in Seattle this morning to defend the Justice Department’s decision to fire eight U.S. attorneys. When asked why former U.S. attorney John McKay of Washington state was ousted, Gonzales responded:
Listen, we made a decision at the Department as to the appropriate way forward. There was nothing improper about the decision here … There’s no evidence whatsoever, and it’s reckless and irresponsible to allege that these decisions were based in any way on improper motives.
Gonzales’ statements are distortions. McKay revealed earlier this month that Rep. Doc Hasting’s (R-WA) office contacted him and pressured him as to the status of an ongoing investigation into voter fraud in the midst of a tight gubernatorial election. Emails released this week show that then-Gonzales’ chief of staff Kyle Sampson touted McKay for a federal judgeship, saying that it is “highly unlikely we could do better in Seattle.” But one month later, McKay was listed as one of the seven attorneys in the process of being “pushed out.” “What happened between those dates to reverse McKay’s political fortunes is a bit of a mystery.”
Gonzales’ defiant tone comes in the midst of a last ditch attempt to avoid being fired himself. This week, Gonzales is touring the country in an attempt to get away from Washington, as he “appeared to be launching a campaign to save his job by repairing relations with prosecutors in the field and reaching out to political supporters.”