No Comment — May 9, 2007, 8:10 am

Omertà: The Gonzales Angle

Alberto Gonzales is still the attorney general, which considering what he’s been through over the last two months is an amazing fact. George Bush, in remarks for a cinco de mayo celebration, labeled him as the “eternal general.” He was caught in a dozen lies in presentations to Congress, which is astonishing especially considering the fact that the crux of his testimony was that he simply couldn’t remember – not much of anything, even though he’d spent a solid month preparing for the hearings.

Today, Time magazine’s Massimo Calabresi offers us another glimpse at materials which came out in the interviews conducted by Judiciary Committee staffers. They furnish some remarkable insight into the thinking and character of Alberto Gonzales.

When the Roehrkasse e-mail came to light, he told the press that Gonzales had been upset because he believed that “Bud Cummins’ removal involved performance considerations.” But on April 15, Congressional sources tell TIME, Gonzales’ former chief of staff Kyle Sampson told a different story. During a private interview with Judiciary Committee staffers Sampson said three times in as many minutes that Gonzales was angry with McNulty because he had exposed the White House’s involvement in the firings?had put it’s role “in the public sphere,” as Sampson phrased it, according to Congressional sources familiar with the interview.

If Gonzales was indeed actively trying to protect the White House from charges they were involved in the firings, that will fuel suspicions that something improper was at work in the firings themselves. Most Democrats and Republicans agree that the President has broad authority to replace U.S. attorneys as he sees fit, so why would the Attorney General try to obscure the White House’s role in doing so?

So it seems that Gonzales was driven by one consideration: to shield and protect the White House–to avoid exposing the internal machinations of the White House to public or Congressional scrutiny.

Understanding this, it becomes apparent why Gonzales had convenient “memory lapses” with respect to all questions that pointed to dealings with Karl Rove and Harriet Miers. And it’s apparent why Gonzales furnished false statements on so many points. The dissembling is fairly consistent in what it obscures: the role of the White House. Gonzales is hanging around and taking the heat to protect Karl Rove. It’s about that simple.

On Thursday, Gonzales will be back on the hill, testifying in the House Judiciary Committee. He should expect to be probed very thoroughly on why he was so concerned about the White House’s role being in the “public sphere,” and why he suffers from persistent and highly localized amnesia on this subject matter. At this point, he has few friends remaining even among the Republicans. If he doesn’t quit, he will face a vote of censure, followed by an impeachment effort. No one will ever accuse Alberto Gonzales of a gracious exit.

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

Conversation August 5, 2016, 12:08 pm

Lincoln’s Party

Sidney Blumenthal on the origins of the Republican Party, the fallout from Clinton’s emails, and his new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Conversation March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm

Burn Pits

Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.

Context, No Comment August 28, 2015, 12:16 pm

Beltway Secrecy

In five easy lessons

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

February 2017

A Grim Fairy Tale

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Trump: A Resister’s Guide

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Little Things

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Patient War

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Remainers

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

JB & FD

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
Illustration (detail) by Steve Brodner
Article
The Patient War·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
Photograph (detail) © Andrew Quilty/Oculi/Redux
Article
Little Things·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
Photograph (detail) of miniatures by Lori DeBacker by Thomas Allen
Article
Blood and Soil·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
Illustration (detail) by Nate Kitch
Article
JB & FD·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

(1) To need his glasses and be struck by an awareness that they are not at hand, an ordinary enough circumstance for Frederick Douglass, except sometimes it’s accompanied by a flash of extraordinary dread. If not quite panic, certainly an unease disproportionate to a simple recurring situation. Dread that may be immediately extinguished if he locates his horn-rimmed, owlish-eyed spectacles exactly where he anticipated they should be. He sees them and almost sighs. Nearly feels their slightly uncomfortable weight palpable on his nose. Finding the glasses enough to reassure him that he remains here among the living in this material …
Illustration (detail) by Matthew Richardson

Chances that an American knows the position of his or her senators on health-care reform:

1 in 3

Climate experts proposed creating a fleet of cloud-seeding yachts that will pump water vapor into the atmosphere to thicken global cloud cover, thereby reflecting more sunlight, in order to counteract the effects of global warming.

In San Antonio, a 150-pound pet tortoise knocked over a lamp, igniting a mattress fire that spread to a neighbor’s home.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today