The Washington Post reports on a newly released email showing that Alberto Gonzales attended a meeting with senior aides to review plans to fire U.S. attorneys. There’s nothing wrong with attending such a meeting, of course; indeed, one would hope that Gonzales did review and discuss such plans. However, according to the Post, the email conflicts with a statement Gonzales made at a press conference about his involvement in this matter. According to the Post, Gonzales said “I was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on.”
It can be argued, however, that the email is consistent with Gonzales’ statement to the press. The argument is that the decision had already been made before the meeting Gonzales attended, and he was simply signing off at that time. So whether Gonzales misled the press depends on what actually happened at the meeting.
Where should this leave Gonzales? Certain offenses, if established, would require the president to fire Gonzales. They include lying under oath and obstructing justice. I haven’t seen any evidence that Gonzales committed such an offense.
The questions then become (1) has the president lost confidence in Gonzales and (2) will firing Gonzales help the administration. I suspect the answer to the second question is “no.” The Democratic Congress and its MSM allies aren’t going to let go of this story. With Gonzales out, they would shift their attention to Karl Rove and to the particulars of the eight fired prosecutors and continue to blow smoke. Nor is firing Gonzales likely to change perceptions about Bush’s competence — judgments that are based on partisanship and/or six years of observation.
However, politics aside, Gonzales should not continue to serve if he lacks the president’s confidence. I have no idea where Bush is on this, but my confidence in Gonzales, already shaky, would diminish if it turns out that Gonzales misrepresented his involvement in the firings to the press. As noted, though, it’s not clear that Gonzales did this.
UPDATE: This report indicates that the meeting Gonzales attended had to do with the plan for firing the eight U.S. attorneys after they had already had been selected. The Washington Post neglected to report this detail, which makes Gonzales’ statement to the press denying involvement more defensible. Via Big Lizards.
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