By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
President Bush said yesterday that Democrats in Congress are engaging in "pure political theater" by preparing resolutions of no confidence in Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, and he repeated his support for his embattled aide and longtime friend.
Bush told reporters at his ranch near Crawford, Tex., that the attorney general "has done nothing wrong" in the dismissals of nine U.S. attorneys last year.
"I stand by Al Gonzales, and I would hope that people would be more sober in how they address these important issues," Bush said. "And they ought to get the job done of passing legislation, as opposed to figuring out how to be actors on the political theater stage."
Bush's latest remarks came in response to a bid by Sens. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for a Senate vote of no confidence in Gonzales as early as this week. Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.) and Artur Davis (D-Ala.) introduced a similar measure in the House yesterday.
"The president should understand that while he has confidence in Attorney General Gonzales, very few others do," Schumer said in a statement.
While the House and Senate votes would be nonbinding, they could increase pressure on Gonzales to step down in the wake of the prosecutor firings and other issues.
A former senior Justice official testified last week that Gonzales, while working as White House counsel, attempted to pressure then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft into reauthorizing a surveillance program in 2004 while Ashcroft was hospitalized in intensive care.
One of Gonzales's former top aides, Monica M. Goodling, is scheduled to testify tomorrow before the House Judiciary Committee, which has granted her limited immunity from prosecution. Goodling helped coordinate the dismissals and faces a Justice Department investigation into whether she weighed political affiliation in reviewing the hiring of career prosecutors.