Schiff Calls on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to Resign
Today, in a House Judiciary Committee hearing Congressman Adam Schiff, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, called on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. Attorney General Gonzales appeared before the Judiciary Committee and testified regarding the controversial firings of U.S. Attorneys.
After the Attorney General testified that there would be nothing improper in replacing a U.S. Attorney in order to provide a loyalist with an opportunity to pad their resume, Rep. Schiff asserted that Mr. Gonzales's testimony showed "how little respect" he has for the professionals in his charge. Rep. Schiff went on to further say, "I hope you will resign because the department is broken and I don't think you're the one to fix it."
Below is the transcript of the exchange with Rep. Schiff and Attorney General Gonzales.
CONYERS: The chair recognizes a former assistant U.S. attorney himself, Adam Schiff of California.
SCHIFF: Mr. Gonzales, I wanted to go over some of your testimony in the Senate. You testified in September of 2005, Senator Domenici called you to complain that Mr. Iglesias was in over his head and lacked the resources to prosecute corruption cases. Is that correct?
GONZALES: I don't know if I said in connection with that particular call that he lacked the resources. I think what I may have -- I think what I testified to was the fact that he was concerned that Mr. Iglesias did not have the top talent working on public corruption cases generally. And I think in subsequent conversations that occurred in '06, I think there were concerns raised by Senator Domenici about whether or not there were sufficient resources available to handle other kinds of cases.
SCHIFF: Well, you testified in the Senate that he told you in these conversations that he lacked the resources to handle corruption cases. Are you saying that's not correct today?
GONZALES: What I'm saying is, is that -- I recall him saying with respect to some of the conversations.
GONZALES: I don't recall sitting here today that he said that with respect to the first case. The first conversation that I had -- what I recall in the first conversation was Senator Domenici indicated -- he questioned whether or not, does Mr. Iglesias have his best people working on these kinds of very difficult cases?
SCHIFF: On corruption cases?
GONZALES: That is my recollection, yes.
SCHIFF: So in September '05, he talked to you about corruption cases. In January of '06, you spoke with him again. Again, he complained about Mr. Iglesias and his handling or lack of resources with respect to corruption cases, correct?
GONZALES: My recollection, Congressman, is that the subsequent -- I have a recollection that in one of the conversations, which I believe occurred in '06 -- one of the two conversations that I had -- he mentioned generally voter fraud cases. That's the extent of my recollection.
SCHIFF: In none of your Senate testimony do you indicate that Senator Domenici talked to you about voter fraud, only about corruption cases.
GONZALES: I don't remember being asked specifically about the conversations that I had in '06, Congressman. Obviously, I mean...
SCHIFF: Well, your testimony was that you had three conversations.
SCHIFF: And there were two points that Senator Domenici made. First, that he was in over his head...
GONZALES: I didn't mean...
SCHIFF: Second, that he lacked resources to prosecute corruption cases...
GONZALES: I didn't mean to imply that those were the only points or things said in those conversations.
SCHIFF: So now you recall that he also talked about voter fraud cases?
GONZALES: Yes. In fact -- it's not a recollection that I have just sitting here today. But, yes, I have a recollection that the issue of voter fraud cases generally -- not specific cases, but generally -- was raised in one of those two conversations in '06.
SCHIFF: And you also said, in the Senate, that as a result of your conversations with the senator, you lost confidence in Mr. Iglesias. Is that correct?
GONZALES: Obviously, I was not surprised to see Mr. Iglesias's name recommended to me. The fact that the senior senator...
SCHIFF: That's not my question. You testified in the Senate you lost confidence in him as a result of this. Is that correct?
GONZALES: Not having the confidence of the senior senator and the senior leadership in the department was enough for me to lose confidence in Mr. Iglesias to recommend...
SCHIFF: OK. So you lost confidence in him after these three calls? In July of '06, after these three conversations, you go out to New Mexico; you meet with Mr. Iglesias. You said not a word about losing confidence with him, did you?
GONZALES: I don't recall having -- mentioning that, no, sir.
SCHIFF: In fact, you were there to announce you were providing resources not for corruption cases and not for voter fraud cases by for immigration cases, something you've never said Senator Domenici raised with you?
GONZALES: I don't recall Senator Domenici raising with me concerns about immigration cases.
SCHIFF: So nothing you did or said in July of '06, during your meeting with Mr. Iglesias, is consistent with what you're saying now about your conversations with Senator Domenici?
GONZALES: I don't recall raising these issues with Mr. Iglesias in my visit in '06.
SCHIFF: Now, you were the only one on the phone with Senator Domenici during these three calls. Is that correct?
GONZALES: From my end. I don't know whether or not anyone was on the phone as well from his end.
SCHIFF: So, on your end, you're the only one who would know what the substance of those conversations was? GONZALES: Again, I was the only one...
SCHIFF: In March of this year, when Mr. Roehrkasse, your press spokesman, said that in none of these conversations, none of these three conversations, were corruption cases mentioned, that wasn't true, was it?
GONZALES: Well, again, I don't know whether or not Mr. Roehrkasse was talking about specific corruption cases or as a general category. Senator Domenici did not mention specific corruption cases.
SCHIFF: And you don't think that's misleading, for him to tell the country, and for you to have a press conference the week after and not correct the record, for him to tell the country there was no mention of a corruption case in your conversations?
GONZALES: There was no mention of a corruption case.
SCHIFF: Oh, there was mention about corruption cases but not a corruption...
GONZALES: I do not think it was misleading, Congressman.
SCHIFF: Mr. Gonzales, I worked in the justice department for six years. And I love that department. And it makes me ill to see what's happened to it.
SCHIFF: And for you to come here today and say there's nothing improper about firing a good prosecutor to make room for someone to pad their resume shows me how little respect you have for the professionals in your charge.
(UNKNOWN): Would the gentleman yield?
SCHIFF: And I hope you will reconsider your decision and I hope you will resign because the department is broken and I don't think you're the one to fix it.
Rep. Schiff was recently appointed to serve on the House Appropriations Committee in the 110th Congress and is a member of its Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee, the State Department and Foreign Operations Subcommittee, and the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel. He also serves on the House Judiciary Committee and its Subcommittee on the Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property. He represents California's 29th Congressional District, which includes the communities of Alhambra, Altadena, Burbank, East Pasadena, East San Gabriel, Glendale, Monterey Park, Pasadena, San Gabriel, South Pasadena and Temple City.