White House Finally Asked About DOJ Report, Says It’s Not ‘Disappointed’ In Gonzales

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"White House Finally Asked About DOJ Report, Says It’s Not ‘Disappointed’ In Gonzales"

Today, the Department of Justice Inspector General testified on his recent report documenting the rampant and unlawful politicization of the Justice Department. He told the Senate Judiciary Committee that former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales “said he was unaware of what was going on” at his own department, and that he “basically said he didn’t have knowledge of the role the office of the Attorney General played in identifying candidates” for career positions.

After two days of silence from the White House press corps on the subject, a reporter finally asked White House press secretary Dana Perino about the report today. She refused to say that President Bush was “disappointed” in Gonzales, admitting only “overall disappointment in the situation”:

QUESTION: Does this mean — can I infer from that that President Bush is disappointed in Alberto Gonzales?

PERINO: I think that, if you look at the report, and it is in line with what the attorney general said at the time, which was that he was not aware of that — of that going on. And so I don’t think there’s anything – the disappointment doesn’t necessarily go to the attorney general. [...]

QUESTION: But you won’t go so far as to say that, looking at Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department, President Bush is disappointed this was going on?

PERINO: Well, I think that we are — overall disappointment in the situation, sure.

Watch it:

The President refuses to punish his most loyal Bushie because he carried out his orders. Even after stalwart conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) acknowledged Gonzales’ “incompetence” today, Bush continues to “stand by Al Gonzales.”

Transcript:

QUESTION: Dana, what’s your reaction to the Justice Department report where they — the report essentially says, yes, that there was inappropriate influence of politics and ideology that was part of our hiring and firing practices?

PERINO: Well, as I’ve read the coverage of it — I haven’t read the report, but as I’ve read the coverage of it, there was obviously information in there that would cause concern to anybody. And we agree with Michael Mukasey, the attorney general, that there was concern — there should be concern any time anyone is improperly using politics to influence career decisions.

It is — we believe that is improper. We could absolutely not defend that. And we are pleased that the attorney general has taken steps to change it there at the Justice Department.

QUESTION: Does this mean — can I infer from that that President Bush is disappointed in Alberto Gonzales?

PERINO: I think that, if you look at the report, and it is in line with what the attorney general said at the time, which was that he was not aware of that — of that going on. And so I don’t think there’s anything — the disappointment doesn’t necessarily go to the attorney general.

QUESTION: Does that change…

PERINO: No, I don’t think that…

QUESTION: It doesn’t change the president’s look back…

PERINO: The whole situation was — the whole situation, in terms of the politicization or accusations of politicization, then if you look at career hires that should not have any sort of questions put towards them as to what sort of party they represent, or what affiliation they might belong to, or who they might vote for, those are inappropriate for career positions.

And the president’s glad that Attorney General Mukasey made sure that that is no longer ongoing at the Justice Department. And it’s nothing that we could defend, and we never have.

QUESTION: But you won’t go so far as to say that, looking at Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department, President Bush is disappointed this was going on?

PERINO: Well, I think that we are — overall disappointment in the situation, sure.

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