The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal is out this weekend with a glowing profile of former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, just about two months after the Justice Department dropped its investigation into whether Gonzales politicized the DOJ during his tenure.
As you might expect, Gonzales denied that his 2006 firing of U.S. attorneys was politically motivated.
“A lot of people who know me will tell you that I’m probably the least political animal of the Bush administration,” Gonzales said. “In fact, some people believe that’s why I got hurt so badly, because I wasn’t so good at playing the politics of Washington. I’d have supported George Bush whether he was a Democrat or a Republican. I like the man.”
Indeed. Gonzales recounted a special moment he had with President Bush in the early days of his administration:
Nearly 10 years have passed since he stood on a second-floor White House balcony with President George W. Bush, but Gonzales still relishes the small details: the blue sky behind the Washington Monument, the crisp breeze.
They had just wrapped up a policy briefing, and Bush offered Gonzales a tour of the White House residence, which brought them to the Truman Balcony.
They peered out over the South Lawn, and Gonzales finally broke the silence.
“So what’s it like to be president?” he asked.
Bush smiled. “It’s really cool.”
They laughed, and Gonzales remembers how proud it made him to think his friend, the former governor of Texas, had become one of the most powerful men in the world.
As far as the attorney firings, Gonzales maintains his innocence. But he does have regrets about how it was handled.
“I’m not the kind of person who micromanages every aspect of that assignment,” he said, of delegating the firings to his chief of staff. “The IG takes issue with that, and that’s fine. I disagree with the conclusions of the IG, but I do agree that the process should have been handled differently.”
He also said it was painful to tell a Senate committee that he didn’t remember key meetings that led to the firings.
“It hurt me to have to say that,” he said. “Before my testimony in April to the Senate Judiciary Committee, I had a phone call from Sen. (Jeff) Sessions. He made it quite clear in the phone call: ‘It sure would be helpful if you could remember that meeting.’ I told him, ‘I can’t remember the meeting, senator.’ “