Senators Feinstein and Schumer Call on Senate to Take Vote of No-Confidence on Attorney General Gonzales
May 17 2007
Washington, DC – In light of news reports revealing that 26 U.S. Attorneys were considered for firing over the course of a two-year process, and the testimony of former Deputy Attorney General Jim Comey earlier this week, U.S. Senators Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) today announced that they will offer legislation expressing that view that the Senate has lost confidence in Alberto Gonzales’ performance as Attorney General.
The following are Senator Feinstein’s remarks, as delivered, at an afternoon news conference to discuss the no-confidence resolution:
“The way I look at this is this way: The Department of Justice is one of the most critical and key departments the federal government has. It is a huge department. It houses all of federal law enforcement, as well as the federal court process.
United States Attorneys are prosecutors with enormous powers. Federal sentences are generally substantial. And I believe that the concept of a dual-hatted Attorney General is not a positive concept for the American people.
Whoever is Attorney General of the United States is the chief law enforcement officer for all of the people of the United States. He is not part of the President’s staff. He is not an arm of the President. He has to call the shots on the law, as the law requires.
I have significantly lost confidence in the independence of Attorney General Gonzales.
The United States Attorney incident has been an eye-opener -- because of the fact that the U.S. Attorneys that were fired on December 7 had excellent performance records. All were involved in substantial cases one way or another. And yet, all were terminated without cause.
And no one in the Department of Justice owns up to putting anyone one of them on that list. And the Attorney General said that he knew nothing about it, or he didn’t recall or he didn’t know. This is unacceptable. Because all of this has a ripple affect all the way through the United States.
So, I join with Senator Schumer in saying that I think the time has come for the Senate to express its will. And that is will is to simply to say that we lack confidence in this Attorney General.
I don’t like saying this. I very much regret saying this. I want to say exactly the opposite. But in view of what I know, I can’t. Whether it was the torture memo, whether it’s Guantanamo, whether it’s Geneva Convention, whether it’s US attorneys, whether it’s: “I don’t know, I don’t recall” – over a department as major as this, I don’t think the American people are well-served. I hope.
I’m hopeful this can be worked out. But, there comes a time when you say to say what you think, and this is what I think.”