Video: Senator Schumer takes the gloves off
In today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with Alberto Gonzales, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) initiated a lengthy question and answer session, taking the Attorney General to task on the veracity of his responses to earlier questions.
"This is what we've been through all morning. The people we've interviewed...have contradictory statements as to what you say," Senator Schumer said.
Schumer was referring to the question of whether or not former US Attorney for the Southern District of California Carol Lam had been warned of her supposed shortcomings in her immigration prosecutions.
"Mr. Attorney General, this is a serious hearing, and you've had months to prepare," the New York Democrat said. "Sir, the issue goes to...who's telling the truth around here."
After the recess started, Schumer described Gonzales' performance to reporters as "miserable."
The Senator said that he could have given "people confidence that there was a real plan to fire these attorney generals for good reason. He's failed to do that, miserably."
He also blamed the White House for standing by Gonzales.
"Unless the administration's in a total bunker mentality, I can't see how the attorney general survives many more days," he said.
The full exchange is presented in the following video clip from CNN, and a transcript of Schumer's discussion with reporters after that.
SEN. SCHUMER: I think anyone who watched this morning's hearing can only come to one conclusion, and that is Alberto Gonzales should no longer be attorney general. The contradictions continue to pile up, the "I don't knows" to the most important questions -- that's at the core of this -- the lack of management. He hardly knew what was going on in the department on one of the most important issues the department has faced. All of these things say that we can do a lot better as attorney general.
In fact, the great irony is that the U.S. attorneys he fired end up being far more qualified for their jobs than he does for his, at least as today's testimony shows.
And so I think that unless the administration is in a total bunker mentality, or unless he -- let me say it again. Unless the administration's in a total bunker mentality, I can't see how the attorney general survives many more days.
Q Senator, have you seen any concrete evidence, though, that anything was specifically done to thwart a public corruption --
SEN. SCHUMER: Again, there is -- there -- well, I answered that in my opening statement.
Q Could we have it?
SEN. SCHUMER: Hm?
Q (Off mike) -- here, sir, after you've heard the testimony?
SEN. SCHUMER: Yeah. Okay. The bottom line is that any good lawyer will tell you, you're never going to find in the transcripts an e-mail that says, "Let's fire U.S. Attorney X because they're prosecuting somebody we don't (sic) like."
But any good lawyer will tell you, you may not find a murder weapon every time, a so-called murder weapon, and yet there's enough circumstantial evidence to meet a burden of proof.
There is enough circumstantial evidence here that Attorney General Gonzales had on his shoulders the ability to counter and deal with the contradictions and give people confidence that there was a real plan to fire these attorney generals for good reason. He's failed to do that, miserably.
Q Thank you.
More RAW STORY coverage on the Gonzales hearing can be found at the following links:
Gonzales claims he never discussed Fitzgerald's removal
Attorney General: 'This is not about Alberto Gonzales'
Leahy: Justice Dept. has a crisis of leadership unrivaled in its history