Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is harming the Justice Department and George W. Bush’s presidency by continuing in office, Senator Arlen Specter, top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said.
Gonzales’s failure in Senate testimony April 19 to explain why eight U.S. attorneys were fired last year was `very, very damaging to his own credibility” and “has been damaging to the administration’s,” Specter said.
Bush is under growing pressure from Republicans in Congress to replace Gonzales, a longtime associate of the president’s from Texas, who endured a barrage of criticism from senators in both parties during last week’s hearing. The president has continued to express confidence in Gonzales.
“No doubt it is bad for the Department of Justice. It is harmful” for Gonzales to stay in office because “there has been a very substantial decrease in morale,” Specter said on “Fox News Sunday. “The other 93 U.S. attorneys don’t know who is up next” for dismissal.
The five-term Pennsylvania lawmaker declined to call for Gonzales’s resignation or dismissal, saying he preferred “to leave it up to the attorney general and the president.” Specter told reporters after last week’s hearing that he would give Bush his views on the matter privately.
In response to Specter’s comments, Deputy White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said there has been “no credible allegation of wrongdoing.”
“We have great respect for Senator Specter and because of that strong relationship we can respectfully disagree,” Perino said in an e-mail.