We’re liveblogging Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s
desperate fight for his political life testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is just getting underway. Our commentary will be added continuously to this post (until we eventually migrate to a new post). So just refresh your browser for the latest.
9:35: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), SJC Chairman, has been reading a lengthy introductory statement. It’s way harsh on AlGo.
(Nice tie, Senator Leahy — alternating mint and forest green stripes. And a crisp white shirt — not a button-down-collar, thankfully. Politicians dress so much better than judges.)
9:41: Leahy gets in a dig about the White House being content to turn U.S. Attorney’s Offices into outposts of the Bush Administration.
The camera cuts to Gonzales, whose lower lip juts out defiantly — and he shakes his head vigorously, to show disagreement with Leahy’s statement. Will the famously mild-mannered Gonzales actually display some cojones?
More discussion after the jump.
9:47: Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) frames the issue as whether Alberto Gonzales should continue to serve as Attorney General. He tells Gonzales he bears “a heavy burden of proof” in reestablishing his credibility. Specter, a former prosecutor, refers to today’s hearing as AlGo’s “day in court.”
9:54: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tries to preemptively attack AlGo. He says he doesn’t want to hear meandering answers, conclusory statements, and “I don’t knows.”
Schumer also tries to manage expectations, suggesting that we’re not really going to find a smoking gun: “We’re not going to find an email saying, ‘Fire Carol Lam because she’s prosecuting Duke Cunningham.'”
9:58: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL): “You are a good person. Be forthright with this committee. Give it your best shot, ’cause you are a good person.”
(‘Cause you’re good enough, strong enough, and doggone it, people like you…)
10:05: AlGo’s opening statement is thankfully brief. Short and sweet. Says he doesn’t want to repeat his previously released, written statement. He’s speaking a little more assertively than usual; perhaps he has been taking public speaking classes.
10:09: Leahy is questioning AlGo about former U.S. Attorney David Iglesias and Sen. Pete Domenici’s involvement in Iglesias’s dismissal. Wants to know when exactly Iglesias lost the AG’s confidence, etc.
10:14: Oooh, our first shouting match of the day! It’s between Senator Leahy and AlGo. Leahy is attacking the claim that David Iglesias was dismissed partly because he wasn’t around the office enough — that he was an “absentee landlord.” He points out that some of Gonzales’s close associates, such as Bill Mercer, play two roles — U.S. Attorney for Montana and Acting Associate Attorney General — and that Mercer is only in Montana three days a week.
Gonzales: Well, nobody complained about Patrick Fitzgerald serving as U.S. Attorney for Chicago while prosecuting the Scooter Libby case…
This REALLY gets Leahy’s goat. Leahy raises his voice and says I’m not talking about Pat Fitzgerald, I’m talking about Bill Mercer…
10:23: Shouting match #2, this time between Sen. Specter and Gonzales. Specter is getting impatient because he feels that Gonzales isn’t answering his questions directly.
Gonzales is actually being pretty forceful this morning. But is he coming across as too defensive? (A minute after the shouting match, he actually apologizes to Senator Specter.)
Update: Liveblogging continues here.