During Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) called on Gonzales to resign. In the Washington Post, the Attorney General’s aides spun Coburn’s remarks as a “positive barometer” because he was the only Republican who called for his resignation during the hearing.
Today on Fox News Sunday, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) criticized those aides, stating, “I don’t think they should be celebrating that, because the attorney general’s testimony was very, very damaging to his own credibility.”
Specter said that while he hasn’t called on Gonzales to resign, he believes Gonzales staying on is “bad for the Department of Justice.” “There has been a very substantial decrease in morale. There’s no doubt about that. The other 93 U.S. attorneys don’t know who is up next.” Watch it:
At least half a dozen Republican lawmakers have now called for Gonzales’s resignation. Several others have made it clear they have lost confidence in the Attorney General, but stopped just short of calling for his resignation. Conservative pundits such as Newt Gingrich and the editorial board of the National Review want Gonzales to go. Additionally a plurality of Americans believe Gonzales should now resign or be fired.
Apparently Gonzales’ aides see all this as a “positive barometer” for the administration.
WALLACE: Senator Specter, it’s been reported that after that testimony that you sent President Bush a letter giving your advice on how he should handle Attorney General Gonzales.
Gonzales aides say the fact that only one Republican senator, Senator Coburn, called for his dismissal, and specifically that you did not, is what they call a, quote, positive barometer.
Should they, in fact, be celebrating that fact?
SPECTER: I don’t think they should be celebrating that, because the attorney general’s testimony was very, very damaging to his own credibility.
It has been damaging to the administration, because without answers as to what really happened, there is a lot of speculation. And the charges are being made that the Department of Justice was the political arm of the White House.
Now there is no proof of that, but there is no proof of anything else either.
WALLACE: That’s what I want to pick up on with you, Senator Specter. You said after his testimony that his credibility — that he suffered a loss of credibility and that his ability to manage the Justice Department has been severely undercut.
Now, I know you don’t — are not going to call for him to resign because you say that’s a matter for him and the president to decide, and any advice you’re going to give is going to be in private.
But as the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee — I don’t have to tell you, a co-equal branch of the government — in your judgment, is it good or bad for the Justice Department for him to stay on?
SPECTER: Well, I think, no doubt, it is bad for the Department of Justice. It is harmful. There has been a very substantial decrease in morale. There’s no doubt about that.
The other 93 U.S. attorneys don’t know who is up next. There is a suspicion of improper motivation — no proof, but suspicion, and it’s kindled every day.
But I believe in the final analysis, there are two people involved in the decision, and that is the attorney general to make it himself, and, if he decides to stay on, for the president.
I do not think that it is appropriate for me to call for his resignation. I don’t challenge anybody else who wants to do it. But my own mindset is to leave it up to the attorney general and the president.