(Photo of buses via racoles.)
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is scheduled to begin testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee at 9:30 am ET this morning. With this sort of send off from bravely anonymous
knife planters aides to President Bush, he may spend a bit of his time looking over his shoulder for a bus:
Bush does not think Gonzales did anything wrong in dismissing the prosecutors, according to aides, but has been aggravated by his friend's clumsy, shifting explanations of what happened. In effect, advisers said, Bush is giving Gonzales a chance to fix the situation today.
What happens if he does not remains unclear. No one in the White House believes Gonzales can say anything that would get Democrats to drop the matter, but his supporters hope he can be confident and consistent enough to explain his role without providing more ammunition for critics. Should he stumble, some Republicans said, Gonzales has a responsibility to fall on his sword, sparing Bush having to ask.
"The president's loyalty is the only explanation for the attorney general's continued service," said Mark Corallo, a former Bush Justice Department spokesman. "The attorney general's not a bad person. He's a smart guy. But he completely mishandled the situation on so many levels that he has completely shattered the trust of the people who work for him. . . . At this point, the attorney general's loyalty to President Bush needs to trump President Bush's loyalty to the attorney general."…
The two men bonded despite drastically different personalities, the outgoing jokester and the reserved lawyer. "It always looked to me like a big brother-little brother relationship," said a former White House official, insisting on anonymity to discuss personal matters. "The president always held the upper hand in the relationship, but he felt very fondly for Judge Gonzales, and in return Judge Gonzales was always very protective of him."
Let's play a game of "spot the anonymous agenda," shall we? Any guesses on who the "according to aides" and "advisors said" might be? My money would be on Rove, Bartlett, and Bolten, all protecting the Presidential ass at any cost, including at the expense of the loyal AG. As for that last paragraph from the "former White House official," that screams Scotty McClellan to me. And the Corallo quote — nice of the WaPo to fail to identify him as Rove's spokesperson, isn't it?
Just for kicks, John Nichols at The Nation has a few questions for the AG. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that Kyle Sampson was interviewed for six hours last Sunday by Senate Judiciary staffers who were nailing down the many loose ends left behind in his "I don't recalls." Which will, most likely, just make things all the tighter for the AG today, given that he won't have had access to Sampson's answers. (Hint: Be truthful — the Scooter alternative is painful.) The potential vote on immunity for Monica Goodling was put off until next week, so she'll have to sweat it out until the AG concludes his testimony today.
The Gonzales testimony is shaping up to be more and more interesting by the minute.