The onetime Bush Attorney General admitted Tuesday that “skittish” law firms won’t hire him after his departure under fire from the Justice Department surrounding his role in the political firings of nine US Attorneys. He says he considers himself a victim of the “war on terror,” though his firing actually came after what seemed to be a war on US Attorneys who didn’t cleave to Administration policies.
Sounding dumbfounded, the 53-year-old former judge and corporate lawyer told the Wall Street Journal, “What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?”
He says he’s delivered a few paid speeches, done mediation work and arbitration.
In the interview, he also said he’s writing a book but hasn’t yet found a publisher. He also sounded flummoxed by the amount of rancor leveled at his stewardship of the Justice Department, saying he wasn’t the one to blame.
“For some reason, I am portrayed as the one who is evil in formulating policies that people disagree with,” Gonzales said. “I consider myself a casualty, one of the many casualties of the war on terror.”
Gonzales took flak for the apparent political firing of US Attorneys who didn’t toe the Bush administration line. It later emerged that his lieutenants had chosen Republicans and spurned Democrats when hiring professional staff.
On paper, many of the decisions surrounding US Attorney firings, as well as hirings, had been made by subordinates, which lent weight to arguments that Gonzales wasn’t providing ample leadership.
The first Hispanic attorney general also kindled critics ire by repeatedly telling Congress “I don’t recall” when questioned about his role in the US Attorney firings.
He said he’s writing his memoir “for my sons, so at least they know the story,” and bemoaned testimony by former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who refused to authorize President Bush’s warrantless wiretapping program while acting as temporary Attorney General. Gonzales is said to have traveled to then-AG John Ashcroft’s beside to pressure him to reauthorize the taps.
Asked why he denied he was going to resign after he’d already told President Bush of his intent to quit, Gonzales said, “At that point, I didn’t care.”
Gonzales’ full interview is available here.