A spokeswoman for the president has affirmed that it’s perfectly reasonable for U.S. attorneys to be hired and fired at will – because of the president’s authority to set the agenda the U.S. attorneys are to fulfill.
Dana Perino was responding to a question from Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White house, who asked, “Sen. Hillary Clinton said that Attorney General [Alberto]Gonzales should resign ‘because he is at the center of a widening scandal over the firing of several U.S. attorneys, a grand total of eight.’ But in March of 1993, when Janet Reno fired all 93 U.S. attorneys at once, President Clinton said – a quote – “All of those people are routinely replaced,’ noted The Wall Street Journal.
“And my question: What is the president’s reaction to the Clinton appointment of Paula Casey as U.S. attorney in Little Rock who never brought any major Whitewater indictments?”
“Well, first of all, let me back up and say that people might want to use – use the word ‘scandal’ to describe the President’s absolutely proper and reasonable reasons to – or the reasonableness of being able to hire and fire U.S. attorneys at will because they serve at the pleasure of the president, and the president sets a broad prosecutorial agenda which the U.S. attorneys are there to fulfill,” Perino said.
Further, she said, “I will let other people, and your listeners, make conclusions about Hillary Clinton’s statements.”
There have been increasing questions of Gonzales over the dismissals – why they took place. Several members of Congress – of both parties – have lobbed questions in his direction.
Just this week several Republicans urged President Bush to allow top aides to submit sworn testimony about the events that resulted in the dismissals.
Democrats have claimed the dismissals were for political reasons, but the Bush administration has pointed out U.S. attorneys are, in fact, political appointments.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the Justice Department, is planning to hear from Gonzales on April 17 regarding the issues.
Several of the dismissed prosecutors have said they believe their firings were motivated by politics. John McKay of Seattle said he had been rebuked in private conversations for not being more aggressive pursuing Democrats during election-year investigations. David Iglesias in New Mexico has made similar comments.
Perino also said the president is trying to begin addressing the fluctuating price of fuel, given the instability in the Middle East.
“What role does the president believe government should play in advocating or requiring higher fuel efficiency standards for vehicles,” WND asked.
“We said that in the president’s 20-in-10 program that he is seeking to reduce gasoline consumption by 20 percent in 10 years. You get there two ways. One is by reforming the CAFE system, and the other is by replacing 35 billion gallons of traditional gasoline with alternative fuels,’ she said.
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