Just across on Fox; haven’t even had time to read the story yet. Stand by.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress, has resigned. A senior administration official said he would announce the decision later this morning in Washington.
Mr. Gonzales, who had rebuffed calls for his resignation, submitted his to President Bush by telephone on Friday, the official said. His decision was not immediately announced, the official added, until after the president invited him and his wife to lunch at his ranch near here.
Has the golden age of Chertoff begun?
Update: I’m tempted to say this is like Rumsfeld’s resignation insofar as he stayed just long enough to really hurt Bush, but with the U.S. Attorneys investigation still going on I guess we don’t know that for sure yet. If they’re expecting a big shoe to drop, maybe it’s better to have him out now.
The Times’s source alleges that Bush accepted the resignation “grudgingly” but it’s too much of a coincidence that the biggest lightning rods in the administration — Rove, Gonzo — are all overboard right before the Iraq debate heats up again.
Update: MM says good riddance.
Update: WaPo was caught flat-footed but it sounds like the AP has independently confirmed it. Assuming Chertoff is the replacement, who replaces him at DHS?
Update: MSNBC says Bush hasn’t chosen a replacement yet but Fox is hearing that Paul Clement, the solicitor general, might be the interim pick.
Update: “Whatever his other merits or faults, Gonzales had to be one of the most politically incompetent people ever to hold such a high position in Washington. It’s hard to think of anything he touched in six and a half years in Washington that didn’t end up getting President Bush the worst possible press…”
Update: It’s odd that they had his resignation on Friday but chose to wait until the start of the new news cycle on Monday to announce, no?
Update: Congress won’t be back in session until after Labor Day so presumably Bush has a free kick here with a recess appointment if he wants one. That’s what he did with Bolton in August 2005, you’ll recall. It would spare the nominee a confirmation fight until next year, when there’ll be so little time left in Bush’s term that no one will care anyway.
Doesn’t sound like he’s going to avail himself of the opportunity, though:
The announcement was to come later today. The acting attorney general with be Solicitor General Paul Clement. He “can stay in that position for quite a while,” a senior administration official said.
That would avoid a bruising confirmation fight.
Update: MKH: “Gonzales leaves without about one political ally to his name, and now we’ll hear another cloying Bush speech about how a guy no one really liked and who brought considerable problems upon the administration through his own bone-headedness was actually the greatest guy evuh.” Yup — and we’ll have the video!
Update: CNN says Gonzo’s top aides didn’t know until this morning. And AFP reiterates the Times’s report that Bush only accepted the resignation “reluctantly.” The source for both articles is a senior White House official so judge for yourself whether that’s spin or not.
Update: Here’s the announcement video. Bush will speak from Crawford at 11:50. Interesting that they didn’t appear together for the occasion.
NBC has reaction round-up and yet another report that this was entirely Gonzo’s own decision.
Update: CNN says Clay Johnson III, Bush’s chief of staff when he was governor of Texas and a Bush pal from his high school days, is going to be kicked waaaay upstairs from his job in the Office of Management and Budget to succeed Chertoff at DHS. Think Progress calls him a “professional Bush loyalist” who’s unqualified for the job. Hard to disagree. Needless to say, this is par for the course for Bush when it comes to Homeland Security.
Update: WaPo has a solid profile of the Bush-Gonzales relationship. “In the end, Gonzales was a man without a constituency outside of the White House. At a Senate hearing on April 19, he endured withering criticism over his professed inability to recall key events in the attorney firings, including details of a meeting on the topic with President Bush and Karl Rove. As the controversy swirled over a period of several months, conservative figures questioned both his legal competence and his ability to manage the sprawling Justice Department.”
Update: Here’s Bush. It starts with the requisite backslapping and shifts into a knock on unnamed “critics” at around 2:30. Looks like he’s going to skip the recess appointment and stick with Paul Clement until Congress is back in session. Curious.
Rich Lowry’s also hearing from his sources that this was completely Gonzales’s own decision. Who knows?