Schumer Calls for Gonzales' Resignation
Monday, March 12, 2007; 6:20 PM
WASHINGTON -- The Senate's No. 3 Democrat said Sunday that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales should resign because he is putting politics above the law. Sen. Charles Schumer cited the FBI's illegal snooping into people's private lives and the Justice Department's firing of federal prosecutors.
Schumer, D-N.Y., said Gonzales repeatedly has shown more allegiance to President Bush than to citizens' legal rights since taking his job in early 2005.
He branded Gonzales, a former White House counsel, as one of the most political attorneys general in recent history.
"Attorney General Gonzales is a nice man, but he either doesn't accept or doesn't understand that he is no longer just the president's lawyer, but has a higher obligation to the rule of law and the Constitution even when the president should not want it to be so," Schumer said.
"And so this department has been so political that I think for the sake of the nation, Attorney General Gonzales should step down," he said.
As vice chairman of the Democratic caucus, Schumer is No. 3 in the Senate leadership.
Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., a member of the Democrat-controlled Judiciary Committee, said Gonzales would be "better off" if he resigned.
"There is very little credibility in the Justice Department right now," Biden said. He cited what he said were abuses of power dating to Gonzales' tenure as White House counsel in which he advocated aggressive interrogations of suspected terrorists that pushed the boundaries of the law.
"I think Gonzales has lost the confidence of the vast majority of the American people," he said. "I think he's lost the confidence of the Congress."
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, the top Republican on the committee, said Gonzales' resignation was a "question for the president and the attorney general."
"I do think there have been lots of problems," said Specter, who last week suggested that a Gonzales tenure may have run its course. "Before we come to conclusions, I think we need to know more facts."
Justice spokesman Brian Roehrkasse said the attorney general had made significant strides to protect national security, increase prosecutions of sex offenders and immigration offenses and fight gang violence.