CRAWFORD, Texas --Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has resigned, ending a months-long standoff with Republican and Democratic critics who called for his ouster over the Justice Department's botched handling of FBI terror investigations and the firing of U.S. attorneys, officials said Monday.Whoever is nominated to be the new AG is going to get a real grilling during confirmation hearings. The folks at the Volokh Conspiracy seem to think that Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff is the likely nominee - but he didn't exactly cover himself with glory during Katrina, and the TSA isn't quite what I'd call a monument to leadership excellence.
The likely temporary replacement for Gonzales is Solicitor General Paul Clement, who would take over until a permanent replacement is found, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
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A frequent Democratic target, Gonzales could not satisfy critics who said he had lost credibility over the Justice Department's botched handling of warrantless wiretaps related to the threat of terrorism and the firings of several U.S. attorneys.
As attorney general and earlier as White House counsel, Gonzales pushed for expanded presidential powers, including the eavesdropping authority. He drafted controversial rules for military war tribunals and sought to limit the legal rights of detainees at Guantanamo Bay -- prompting lawsuits by civil libertarians who said the government was violating the Constitution in its pursuit of terrorists.
So - will Bush have the gall to put his new AG in through a recess appointment and avoid the confirmation hearings? Article II, section 2 of the Constitution states:
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.And, after all, the Senate is on recess - through next Tuesday.
Updated 1:33PM: Boston.com has updated the AP story; Gonzales' resignation is effective Sept. 17 (when the Senate is in session). No danger of a recess appointment.
[Note to the folks at boston.com: URLs are cheap; if the story changes that much, how's about a new one?]