We’re picking up with where we left off, in our liveblogging of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
10:50: Sen. Herb. Kohl is REALLY going after AGAG. He cites poll data showing that approximately half of the American public wants Gonzales to resign.
Kohl is in essence asking: Why are you still here? He suggests to Gonzales that these poll results matter, because American people’s perceptions of the DOJ and whether justice is being done are very important.
Gonzales has a good line here: “You’re right, Senator. This is not about Alberto Gonzales.” He then says it’s about the work the DOJ is doing (to “protect our children,” of course).
11:00: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) tosses a bunch of softballs in AGAG’s direction. He’s the most friendly questioner of the morning thus far. He also notes that some time ago, a Democratic senator predicted that Gonzales would be gone as AG within a week. “And yet here you are, still Attorney General, a month later. And I’m glad to see that.”
11:08: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is up now. Her lilac blazer stands out in the sea of dark suits.
Feinstein tries to zero in on the precise extent of Gonzales’s involvement. Great line: “Who was the Decider?”
We love ourselves some DiFi!
Okay, time for a 10-minute recess — the first of the morning.
And now we’re back. More discussion, after the jump.
During the break, from a reader, regarding Feinstein’s “Who was the Decider?” question:
“I’m just surprised AG didn’t respond to the decider question honestly, and describe in luscious detail the BDSM relationship between him and Bush. AG’s (obviously) the sub…”
And also another good point, concerning Senator Leahy directing visitors in the gallery to put down their signs:
No snark about Leahy playing middle school vice principal: “Now you kids stop playing around with those signs, or I’ll have to take them away!”
11:35: Back to the Republican side. Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) asks AGAG what he would have done differently. Gonzales says he would have had the Deputy Attorney General, Paul McNulty, more involved in the process.
HA. So maybe McNulty could take more of the blame with him, when he leaves the DOJ?
11:40: Cornyn asks AGAG about the controversial case of the two jailed Border Patrol agents. Not a comfortable subject for Gonzales; but it does take momentum away from the U.S. Attorney firing questioning.
11:52: Sen. Russ Feingold is up. He starts off kinda boring, but gets interesting — and harsh — near the end. Suggests that the rationales for the U.S. Attorney dismissals were made up after the fact.
12:00: Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) expresses frustration at AGAG’s lack of recollection about a certain meeting at which the firings were discussed. AGAG repeatedly states that he has “searched [his] memory” but can’t remember more.
(Maybe AGAG should undergo hypnosis to see if memories can be recovered?)
AGAG lists the officials involved in the decisionmaking about which U.S. Attorneys to fire. Oooh, a shout-out to Monica Goodling!
12:05: Chairman Leahy again expresses annoyance at distracting people in the gallery. Senator Leahy — if these people can’t settle down, just have their asses booted!
12:08: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and AGAG get into a heated argument about the extent to which U.S. Attorney Carol Lam (S.D. Cal.) was advised of concerns about her immigration prosecutions. This is getting juicy…
(Schumer is saucy, smirk-y, and a bit of a divo. Theatrical. Clearly relishing raking AGAG over the coals.)
12:15: Shouting match #3, between Schumer and Gonzales. It’s over the characterization of Kyle Sampson’s prior testimony concerning the “plan” to evade Senate confirmation for Tim Griffin (E.D. Ark.). Schumer tries to tag Gonzales with this; Gonzales cites Sampson’s testimony that he (Gonzales) thought the idea was “dumb.”
12:20: Now it’s the turn of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). No, we don’t know if he’s gay. Here in DC, the gossip goes both ways.
12:26: A gavel is banged — loudly. Are those spectators acting up again?
12:36: A pseudo-shouting match. Good line from Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), in response to Gonzales’s claim that the Department shouldn’t be criticized for this: “That’s like saying that by criticizing the conduct of the war, we’re criticizing the soldiers!”
This provokes scattered applause in the gallery and shouting from antiwar protestors.
Gonzales’s response: Criticize me, fine; but don’t criticize the Department.
12:39: Lunch recess, until 2 p.m. Protestors are carrying signs that say “Resign!” They are shouting, “Fire Gonzales now!”
In the house: antiwar protest queen Cindy Sheehan.
As the gathering breaks up, some of the senators give interviews to the media. Sen. Specter: “I want to know who the hell was on the ‘murder boards’ [that prepared AGAG for today],” because his performance today has been unacceptable.
Earlier: Alberto Gonzales: In the Hot Seat (Part 1)