Senator tells Gonzales in private meeting to resign
The Attorney General's effort yesterday to patch up ties with a centrist Democratic lawmaker yielded little benefit. Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) said through a spokesman after a Wednesday morning meeting that Alberto Gonzales could do "what's best for the Justice Department, the White House, and himself" by resigning.
"He told him to his face he should resign," Pryor's spokesman, Michael Teague, told RAW STORY.
The Attorney General met with Pryor at the urgings of Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who suggested he could restore his credibility by patching up strained ties with some lawmakers. Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat, was angered by the Justice Department's effort to use an interim appointment authority to install Tim Griffin, a former top aide to White House strategist Karl Rove, as US Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Pryor has a political reputation as a moderate. He was a member of the "Gang of 14," a group of Democratic and Republican lawmakers who banded together to confirm a group of federal judges appointed by President George W. Bush that were being filibustered by Senate Democrats.
Teague questioned Gonzales' motives for setting up the meeting with Pryor.
"Pryor is the type of Senator who will say his door is open, he'll sit down and listen to you," Teague said "He wasn't going to allow them to use it as a PR thing."
Teague also offered a more practical reason for Gonzales to resign: the increased scrutiny the Justice Department will get from Congress in other areas as a consequence of the US Attorneys controversy.
"He's lost the support of senators, that makes his effectiveness as Attorney General more problematic as they try to conclude this administration. People aren't just going to take him at his word, and every time he wants to do something, they're going to run him through the ringer to get the real story, and not the political spin that's been orchestrated through the White House," Teague argued. "Whenever he needs something from Congress, he'll have to go the extra mile."
On the subject of Tim Griffin, Pryor's spokesperson took umbrage at a strategy that the Justice Department was revealed to be using to help Bush political strategist Griffin into his position as Attorney General: puffing up his education credentials.
Talking points in the latest set of documents turned over by the Justice Department suggested that "unlike Mr. Griffin, [Cummins and previous US Attorneys] did not attend top-rated universities." Bud Cummins, the US Attorney that Griffing replaced, had attended the University of Arkansas for his undergraduate and law school studies. Teague said that Senator Pryor had, too.
"Considering that Pryor was graduate of the University of Arkansas Law School, and so was dad, and many others, we didn't think much about it," he said. "It seemed kinda silly actually. In Arkansas, if you really went out and told people that, they wouldn't appreciate that. It speaks for itself, you shouldn't rub that in people's faces that you went to school outside the state."
He added, "We've always said, this isn't the way this is supposed to be done, you shouldn't be installed as US Attorney via press release."
Teague remained mum about the US Attorney who would replace Griffin when his interim appointment expires.
"Rep. John Boozman [the only Republican in Arkansas's congressional delegation] submitted a list of names three of four weeks ago, but we've heard nothing since," he said. "The Senator is not going to say one thing or another until they pick somebody, and then put them through the confirmation process. He's always been very open-minded on these type of appointments, but he does not appreciate the administration trying to ramrod them through and circumvent the Senate."