Senators introduce no-confidence motion; Schumer says 'no fall guys' for Gonzales
Three Democratic Senators met on Capitol Hill Thursday to announce the formal introduction of their 'no confidence' motion against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
"We cannot allow a few people to be the fall guys when we know by all accounts that the Attorney General was directly involved in the process himself," Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said.
The New York Democrat then read the short, to the point statement aloud, which he noted had no preamble findings that often accompany such 'sense of the Senate' bills.
"It is the sense of the Senate that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people," he read.
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who is co-sponsoring the bill, then listed a number of examples of wrongdoing and mismanagement she saw within the Justice Department, including revelations of politicized hiring from yesterdays House Judiciary Committee hearing with Gonzales' ex-White House Liaison Monica Goodling. She said it added up to show that Gonzales needed to quit.
"He is clearly not a strong leader in control of this large and critical department," added Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).
The California Democrat proceeded to read off a list of editorials from newspapers around the country which called for the Attorney General's resignation.
She added, "I wish it could be otherwise, I wish that the American people could have faith in our Attorney General. I wish we didn't need to be here today, but we do, and we're offering this very simple and straight-forward resolution, which should be passed."
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) agreed with Feinstein that Gonzales had done damage to the Justice Department's ability to operate.
"It needs to be put back on its feet again, and it can't be put back on its feet while Attorney General Gonzales is in charge," the freshman Rhode Island Senator said.
The Senate's no confidence motion was shorter than the measure introduced in the House Monday by Reps. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Artur Davis (D-AL), which now has 117 co-sponsors, all Democrats. Schiff and Davis's measure also calls on the President to seek Gonzales' resignation.
Schumer said that six Republican senators had called for Gonzales' resignation, and 'about a dozen' additional Republicans had said 'very negative things' about the Attorney General, proving that the no confidence motion would be able to clear a filibuster.
"There is a very good chance we'll get the 60 votes," he said.
The New York Senator also said that the bill would not advance until after the coming Memorial Day recess, and would get in line behind the planned vote on the immigration reform bill. But, he hoped that the Attorney General would resign before the no confidence measure came to a vote, a message echoed in the House on Monday night.
In the course of the press conference, Senator Whitehouse suggested that an obstruction of justice may have occurred in the process of the investigation into the US Attorneys firings when asked about Goodling's statement that Gonzales seemed to be checking his story against hers in a March meeting.
"It is surprising how often a whiff of obstruction of justice has reared its head in the course of this investigation," he said, pointing to a variety of incidents that had occurred. "There's been the cloud of that hanging over this entire investigation."