Gordon Smith Calls for Gonzales to Step Down?

Jon Perr

USA Today is now reporting that Oregon Senator Gordon Smith has joined his GOP colleague John Sununu (R-NH) in calling for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to step down:

"For the Justice Department to be effective before the U.S. Senate, it would be helpful" if Gonzales resigned, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., told USA TODAY this afternoon.

For a detailed look as to why Gonzales must be replaced, see the "Top 10 Reasons Gonzales Must Go."  And for the latest news, legal filings, and other essential documents surrounding the politically motivated purge of federal prosecutors, see the "U.S. Attorney Scandal Documents."

UPDATE I:  The Oregonian is now reporting that, according to spokesperson Lindsay Jackson, Smith stopped short of demanding Gonzales' departure.  Hat tip to Kelly for catching the latest act of Smith fence-sitting.

UDPATE II:  On yesterday's Mark and Dave show on 1190 KEX, Senator Smith reprised his line of inching towards but falling short of calling for a Gonzales ouster, "If the President wants the Justice Department to be effective before the US Senate the next two years, letting Mr. Gonzales go would be helpful." (The quote is about 20 minutes into hour 2.)

Comments

  • Kell y Steele (unverified)
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    No, he explicitly doesn't.

    Smith's comments caused a stir nationally and in Oregon, where Democrats have accused him of grandstanding on Iraq and other issues because of election concerns in a state where President Bush and the war are increasingly unpopular.

    Lindsay Jackson, a spokeswoman for Smith, said the senator spoke out against Gonzales because of his "extreme disappointment in the attorney general" over the firing of eight federal prosecutors, including one in Washington state.

    While stopping short of calling for Gonzales' resignation, Jackson said Smith believes Gonzales has "a credibility problem," adding: "It will be helpful to this Congress, the administration and the American people to have an attorney general we can have full confidence in."

    Asked what Gonzales needed to do to regain Smith's confidence, Jackson said she was "not willing to go into specifics."

    Once again, Gordon Smith wants the ink for distancing himself from Bush, but he specifically won't call for Gonzales's resignation.

    Lots of nice headlines for some 2008 TV ads though...

  • lyle (unverified)
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    hmm.

    the sad part about this story is that there are going to be a lot of moderates in this state who are going to be impressed by this, and we don't have a press that is going to be capable or even willing to articulate the real reason behind this statement along with his phony anti-war statement a few months ago.

    i wonder if gordon will call for gonzales to resign, but then at the last minute refuse to support a resolution calling for his resignation because we need more people in government named 'alberto'.

    much like he called for the surge to be fought, but then refused to sign a non-binding resolution opposing it because it contained language that dubbed it an 'escalation'.

    sad.

  • Jon (unverified)
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    Kelly,

    Thanks for the update and the correction from the Oregonian. I'll update the post to reflect the latest Smith fence-sitting.

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    Good lord, can the man take a stand on anything?

  • Former Salem Staffer (unverified)
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    I've grown pretty weary of Smith's recent pandering, but I think he's one of the first Republicans to realize what a liability President Bush has become to the party. As it stands now, Bush is an albatross around the GOP's neck, and any Republican that embraces him does so at his/her own political peril. I wouldn't be surprised to see other Republicans following suit, and some have, i.e. Sununu.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    While stopping short of calling for Gonzales' resignation, Jackson said Smith believes Gonzales has "a credibility problem," adding: "It will be helpful to this Congress, the administration and the American people to have an attorney general we can have full confidence in."

    If Gonzales has a "credibility problem" and is not "an attorney general we can have full confidence in" shouldn't all senators have the courage to demand he resign? Since Smith recognizes these problems, why doesn't he take action? Any answers besides the obvious?

  • lin qiao (unverified)
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    He was for Gonzales' resignation before he was against it.

  • Justin (unverified)
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    I think we know what Republicans will be calling for Gonzalez to step down, or quasi-doing so, based entirely on whether they have a potentially tough re-election in 2008. When I heard that a Republican Senator called for Gonzalez to do so yesterday, my first thought before hearing the name was "Um... John Sununu of New Hampshire! If not him Susan Collins. Then we go to Gordon Smith and Norm Coleman..."

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    Looks like smart politics on Smith's part -- more of the same campaigning to the middle and governing to the right that we've come to expect.

    Any time Gordo pulls something like this, it's an opportunity for his opponent to get ink exposing the fact that the Emporer has no clothes. Unfortunately, since there is no opponent, Smith is getting a basically free pass even though the print media is clearly willing to be skeptical about him.

    The longer he gets to give his narrative unchallenged, the harder he is going to be to defeat in 2008.

  • Kelly Steele (unverified)
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    Sal,

    I'll disagree with that. The state party and/or the DSCC can play the role of loyal opposition - pushing back and defining him where possible - without a candidate. The problem is that it just doesn't happen consistently.

    Besides this blog - with all due respect to allies who have done some here and there - no one has really inserted themselves as a credible "go-to guy" for a competing narrative.

    Which is not to say that Meredith won't make it an immediate priority and/or that it wouldn't be better with a declared candidate.

  • (Show?)

    The state party and/or the DSCC can play the role of loyal opposition - pushing back and defining him where possible - without a candidate.

    Stay tuned....

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    The state party and/or the DSCC can play the role of loyal opposition - pushing back and defining him where possible - without a candidate.

    But without the funds to hire a communications person, there still won't be enough of the hard hitting stuff against Smith as there should be.

    I really hope they make a ton of money on Saturday so they can afford to hire at least the top three vacancies (ED, communications dir, finance dir). If you can't go, I recommend a donation to the state party. You can help fund the party and the work in needs to do this year. Everyone has ideas, but without funds things can only go so far.

  • Chris (unverified)
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    Sen. Gordon Smith lacks stones. I yawn at his latest attempt to act as if he's doing or saying anything meaningful.

  • Schizzle (unverified)
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    Clinton fires 93 federal prosecutors - I don't remember any outrage from Dems then...?

    Bush fires 8 federal prosecutors and it's a major crisis?

    Sounds like a vast left wing conspiracy to me...

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    Gordon Smith isn't brave enough to call for Attorney General Gonzales' firing. He doesn't have the cajones to demand the release of the two brave border security agents Gonzales put in prison for shooting an illegal alien drug smuggler in the butt. Smith is a moral coward.

  • Jon (unverified)
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    Schizzle,

    You're parroting a bogus GOP talking point that has been utterly refuted.

    EVERY modern President replaced most or all of the US attorneys at th start of their first term. Alberto Gonzales' own chief-of-staff Kyle Sampson said as much in one of the incrimininating emails:

    "In recent memory, during the Reagan and Clinton Administrations, Presidents Reagan and Clinton did not seek to remove and replace U.S. Attorneys to serve indefinitely under the holdover provision."

    For more, see: http://thinkprogress.org/2007/03/14/bush-attorneys-customary/

  • Schizzle (unverified)
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    "EVERY modern President replaced most or all of the US attorneys at th start of their first term. Alberto Gonzales' own chief-of-staff Kyle Sampson said as much in one of the incrimininating emails:"

    Sounds like you're parroting left wing talking points.

    You're suggesting at the start of Bushs term he fired most or all of the US Attorneys? If that did occur, I would imagine there would have been a major media coverage, and I can't seem to find any reference to that...

    I tried to hit the link you provided, unfortunately it's blocked for me, I'll have to check it this evening.

  • Schizzle (unverified)
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    Jon,

    "At the time, President Clinton presented the move as something perfectly ordinary: "All those people are routinely replaced," he told reporters, "and I have not done anything differently." In fact, the dismissals were unprecedented: Previous Presidents, including Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, had both retained holdovers from the previous Administration and only replaced them gradually as their tenures expired. This allowed continuity of leadership within the U.S. Attorney offices during the transition."

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009784

  • Jon (unverified)
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    Schizzle,

    According to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, between 1981 and 2006, ONLY TWO U.S. attorneys were dismissed by the President at times other than the start of his first term.

    A key selection here:

    At least 54 U.S. attorneys appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate left office before completion of a four-year term between 1981 and 2006 (not counting those whose tenure was interrupted by a change in presidential administration). Of those 54, 17 left to become Article III federal judges, one left to become a federal magistrate judge, six left to serve in other positions in the executive branch, four sought elective office, two left to serve in state government, one died, and 15 left to enter or return to private practice.

    Of the remaining eight U.S. attorneys who left before completing a four-year term without a change in presidential administration, two were apparently dismissed by the President, and three apparently resigned after news reports indicated they had engaged in questionable personal actions. No information was available on the three remaining U.S. attorneys who resigned.

    That's not a talking point. It's called a fact.

  • Jon (unverified)
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    As I mentioned above, Presidents replace most or all of the U.S. attorneys upon taking office.

    As none other than Karl Rove put it: "When we came in, we ultimately replace most all 93 U.S. attorneys — there are some still left from the Clinton era in place. We have appointed a total of I think 128 U.S. attorneys — that is to say the original 93, plus replaced some, some have served 4 years, some served less, most have served more. Clinton did 123. I mean, this is normal and ordinary."

    Again, what is unique to the Bush White House is sacking prosecutors at a time other than the start of the first term.

  • Schizzle (unverified)
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    "Again, what is unique to the Bush White House is sacking prosecutors at a time other than the start of the first term."

    Ok, so had Bush agreed with Rove and said go for it, and they just fired everyone, then everything would have been OK? No foaming at the mouth by Dems? Instead it sounds like they debated, things got delayed and they finally agreed on 8 - hence the delay.

  • poidog1909 (unverified)
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    Hey It's to have Smith on the the side of a democratic America. Just dont forget that he is one that voted for the suspention of habius corpus last year. Wake up; Smith is a tyrant that has betrayed every American

  • poidog1909 (unverified)
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    Hey It's to have Smith on the the side of a democratic America. Just dont forget that he is one that voted for the suspention of habius corpus last year. Wake up; Smith is a tyrant that has betrayed every American

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    "He doesn't have the cajones to demand the release of the two brave border security agents Gonzales put in prison for shooting an illegal alien drug smuggler in the butt. Smith is a moral coward."

    You mean the ones convicted of multiple felonies, including destroying evidence? They knew they'd screwed up badly, and they tried to hide it.

    Gotta love how anti-immigrant zealots only think the law is sacrosanct when it comes to people here illegally. When the police are the ones breaking the law, suddenly it's time for nuance and mercy.

  • (Show?)

    "Ok, so had Bush agreed with Rove and said go for it, and they just fired everyone, then everything would have been OK? No foaming at the mouth by Dems? Instead it sounds like they debated, things got delayed and they finally agreed on 8 - hence the delay."

    Still would have been unprecedented.

    And it misses the salient points that they were dismissed for not doing the bidding of the administration instead of following the law, and that they were replaced with the intention of appointing new lawyers who would not be available for confirmation from the Senate. And of course, there's also the fact that the White House has been caught lying repeatedly about their intentions and involvement in the matter.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Schizzle:

    The firing of the US attorneys is not the point. The question is, "Why were they fired?" If it was because the US attorneys, in the process of doing their jobs, were going after criminals who were friends of the Bush Administration, then that is obstruction of justice. Obstruction of justice is not only illegal, it is also in the case of people involved in the Bush Administration impeachable.

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    going after criminals who were friends of the Bush Administration

    or, as in the case of the USA fired in Washington State, NOT pursuing "voter fraud" allegations (for which, in his own words, "there was no evidence") or other prosecutions politically disadvantageous to Democrats.

    in New Mexico, not delivering indictments of Democrats prior to the November elections.

    etc. etc. ad nauseam

    Oh, and then LYING ABOUT IT UNDER OATH.

  • Schizzle (unverified)
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    Posted by: Bill Bodden | Mar 16, 2007 12:04:23 PM

    Schizzle:

    The firing of the US attorneys is not the point. The question is, "Why were they fired?

    You could make the same argument about Clinton firing the 93: Why were they fired? Was it to protect them from all of Bills battered woman, Whitewater, etc. that the Clinton admin knew was lurking out there...?

  • (Show?)

    from nytimes.com, the newest headline:

    White House Now Unsure if Firings Were Miers’s Idea

    It just gets better and better.

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    Gotta love cowards like Gordon Smith who support illegal alien drug smugglers. But then, 95% of Democrats do the same thing.

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    "You could make the same argument about Clinton firing the 93: Why were they fired? Was it to protect them from all of Bills battered woman, Whitewater, etc. that the Clinton admin knew was lurking out there...?"

    No, we know why he fired the 93--because they were all Republican appointees from the previous administration.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Schizzle: "You could make the same argument about Clinton firing the 93: Why were they fired? Was it to protect them from all of Bills battered woman, Whitewater, etc. that the Clinton admin knew was lurking out there...?"

    If you can be persuaded by facts, go to thinkprogress.org and mediamatters.org to get yourself straightened out on Clinton's "firings" in 1993.

    The point you seem to be making is that if Clinton did it, then it is okay for Bush to do it. First of all, what Clinton did is different from what Bush did. Second, and more important, you seem to be suggesting that if someone commits a crime and gets away with it then it is okay for someone else to commit a crime and he/she should be given a pass. If you think that is a valid argument, then go out an rob a bank and if you get caught, tell the judge you should get away with it become other bank robbers did. Lotsaluck.

    If you go to Think Progress, you'll have lots of company their with your fellow trolls who are more interested in spinning fantasies than paying attention to the facts.

  • (Show?)

    Joe Conason, at salon.com, offers some much needed clarity in a nice compact package.

  • lin qiao (unverified)
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    Was it to protect them from all of Bills battered woman, Whitewater, etc. that the Clinton admin knew was lurking out there..

    No, actually it was keep those prosecutors from checking into all those people that Clinton murdered and all of his drug-running schemes. I thought everyone knew that.

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    I'll disagree with that. The state party and/or the DSCC can play the role of loyal opposition - pushing back and defining him where possible - without a candidate. The problem is that it just doesn't happen consistently.

    Whether the state chair is Meridith Wood-Smith or Jim Edmundson, they are a poor substitute for an actual candidate running an actual campaign when trying to make a credible case against a sitting U.S. Senator.

    Of all people, you should know that.

    Besides, the DPO doesn't even have all of its pieces in place yet.

    As for the DSCC... they won't spend a dime here without a candidate. In terms of making public comments... I like Chuck Schumer, but does anyone in Oregon really care what he has to say about Gordon Smith?

    All of which is too bad because the best way to get Smith to vote like a D for the next 20 months -- something he'll do if he believes that his political survival is at stake -- is for a credible candidate to turn up the heat and call him on his BS.

  • Phil Jones (unverified)
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    Where is Ron Wyden? Has he weighed in on Gozales yet?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Was it to protect them from all of Bills battered woman, Whitewater, etc. that the Clinton admin knew was lurking out there..

    No, actually it was keep those prosecutors from checking into all those people that Clinton murdered and all of his drug-running schemes. I thought everyone knew that.

    The above confirms that lin qiao gets his inspiration from the loony right fringe. Too bad his mind in so closed; otherwise, while he is trolling around this web site he could get a little enlightenment.

  • steven andresen (unverified)
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    When Sen. Smith comes out against Gonzales, or for pulling the troops out, he is being shrewd. I take it he's doing a Hatfield.

    In order to get himself reelected in Oregon, all he has to do is make himself indistinguishable from the average Oregonian. He's against bad government officials. He's against badly fought wars. The Democrats, so far as I can see, are losing this election right now.

  • gt (unverified)
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    <h2>They'll surely lose if they keep up this sniveling drivel and not doing anything effective.</h2>

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