by Max Brantley
Turn to the Senate access channel at 9:15 a.m. if you get a chance. Sen. Mark Pryor will be giving a floor speech calling for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' resignation. He's going to be connecting some dots about how Gonzales repeatedly assured him there'd be a conventional nomination and confirmation process for Tim Griffin as U.S. attorney in Little Rock. These assurances came more than a month before the infamous memo by Gonzales' chief of staff, Kirk Sampson, which said the plan was to utter that reassurance, but then gum the senators to death with empty talk and thus "run out the clock" on the Bush administration with Griffin in an interim appointment.
When you think about it, it's easy to conclude that Sampson, who has resigned, is taking the fall for Gonzales' -- or rather Griffin mentor Karl Rove's -- master plan to take political control of the Justice Department.
There is a cancer on the Justice Department. Malignancies could be removed, at least in part, by resignations in Washington and Little Rock.
UPDATE: On the jump, the closing portion of Pryor's remarks
UPDATE II: Sen. Blanche Lincoln has also called for Gonzales' departure. A statement from her on the jump.
FROM THE TEXT OF PRYOR'S SPEECH
I could spend all day talking about this memo, but basically in here they say that the Attorney General is going to tell us -- Senator Lincoln and I -- about six or seven things. And they did every single one of them. This is the playbook right here. They say "ask the senators to give Tim a chance." and Attorney General Gonzales did ask me that. “Meet with him.” He asked me to, and I did. "Give him some time in office." He asked for that, even though usually people don't get a little test drive before they get appointed. They wanted to delay and just “run out the clock.” At one point he said, "If I'm not happy that, they'll interview other candidates that I'm interested in." They also mention for me to consider him and to look at him in a way that he's doing a good job. Well, here again, every single thing in this memo was done. Again, this is the playbook.
This is why I feel lied to. And the truth is I was lied to, because I was told that the Attorney General -- and he not only said it to me, he said it to the Senate Judiciary Committee and he said it to the world. The Attorney General wanted a Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney in every slot. That is absolutely not true in Arkansas, based on this e-mail from the Justice Department. I assure you when they put good faith in quotes that means they're not proceeding in good faith. They didn't proceed in good faith with me. And that's one of the reasons why I think Attorney General Gonzales should resign immediately. I don't think he has the credibility to run that department anymore.
Let me tell you this. I was one of six – I was one of six democratic Senators that supported Attorney General Gonzales' nomination and confirmation. I supported the Patriot Act. Not all Democrats did. I worked closely with this Attorney General. I've always tried to deal with him and reach out to them and have a constructive, positive relationship. I feel like that's what the people in Arkansas want me to do. And that's exactly what I've done. But on this issue, Attorney General Gonzales has broken faith with me. He's broken faith with the U.S. Senate. And he's broken faith with the people of Arkansas. Because when the Attorney General of this country, who I believe should be held to a higher standard. Not a political standard, but a high standard of integrity because he should be all about justice, not politics. He should be all about justice.
When the Attorney General lies to a United States Senator, I think it's time for that Attorney General to go. And again, he not only lied to me as a person, but when he lied to me, he lied to the Senate and he lied to the people I represent. And for that reason, I'm asking him and demanding that he resign today. Thank you, Mr. President.
FROM BLANCHE LINCOLN'S STATEMENT
“Given the involvement of the Attorney General’s office in intentionally trying to avoid the Senate confirmation process – combined with the serious reservations many in the Senate have had about the Attorney General’s nomination since he was appointed – I believe the Administration and the nation would be better served if Mr. Gonzales were replaced.
“I voted against confirming Mr. Gonzales when he was appointed because I was not confident he could exercise the independence and judgment that the post of Attorney General demands. The U.S. Attorneys controversy has caused a serious breach between the Justice Department and Congress, a breach that I’m not sure can be repaired if Mr. Gonzales remains Attorney General.”