[JURIST] President Bush defended US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] Monday after US Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website], the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, publicly criticized [Fox News Sunday transcript] Gonzales Sunday for his role in the controversial firing of eight US attorneys [JURIST news archive] and said Gonzales' testimony before the Judiciary Committee [JURIST report] last week was "very, very damaging to his own credibility." Specter did not explicitly call for Gonzales to resign, but he emphasized that Gonzales' conduct in the US Attorney firing scandal has harmed both the US Department of Justice [official website] and the Bush administration. Gonzales has repeatedly defended [JURIST report] his role in the firings and has not indicated he will step down from his position in response to several calls for his resignation [JURIST report]. AP has more.
Bush defended Gonzales [statement] Monday while speaking to the press after a meeting with General David Petraeus to discuss the ongoing War in Iraq. Bush said of Gonzales' testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee:
The Attorney General went up and gave a very candid assessment, and answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer, in a way that increased my confidence in his ability to do the job.
One of the things that's important for the American people to understand is that the Attorney General has a right to recommend to me to replace U.S. attorneys. U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President. In other words, we have named them, and I have the right to replace them with somebody else. And as the investigation, the hearings went forward, it was clear that the Attorney General broke no law, did no wrongdoing. And some senators didn't like his explanation, but he answered as honestly as he could. This is an honest, honorable man, in whom I have confidence.
Bush has emphasized his confidence in Gonzales [JURIST report] in the wake of the US Attorney firings on several previous occasions. AP has additional coverage.
2:58 PM ET – Gonzales said Monday that he intended to remain as attorney general "as long as I can continue to serve effectively." AP has more.