I understand Young Master Bush wants to be seen as a loyal kind of guy. I understand he wants to be perceived as someone who doesnâ€™t bend to pressure. I can even imagine the Dimwit-in-Chief may want to stick a thumb in the eye of Congressional leaders who are demanding Abu Gonzales be fired or removed.
But heâ€™s doing his friend no favors. In an exchange with Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), it was apparent Abu Gonzales couldnâ€™t keep his lies straight and he managed to contradict himself several times in under a minute on the same issue.
SCHUMER: Iâ€™d like to just pick up where Senator Specter left off, about the TSP program. Just a few preliminaries. First, I take it that there was just one program that the president confirmed in 2005. There was not more than one.
GONZALES: He confirmed one, yes, intelligence activity. Yes, one program.
SCHUMER: Thank you. OK. Now, you â€” and youâ€™ve repeatedly referred to the, quote â€œprogram,â€ that the president confirmed in December 2005. Let me just â€” Iâ€™m going to put up a chart here. Hereâ€™s what you said before this committee on February 6th of 2006. You said, quote, â€œThere has not been any serious disagreement about the program the president has confirmed. With respect to what the president has confirmed, I do not believe that these DOJ officials that you were identifying had concerns about this program.â€ This was in reference to a question I asked you, â€œWas there any dissent here?â€
This was before Comey came to testify. It was in February. But we had some thoughts that maybe that happened. And now, of course, we know from Jim Comey that virtually the entire leadership of the Justice Department was prepared to resign over concerns about a classified program. Disagreement doesnâ€™t get more serious than that. And what program was the ruckus all about? And this is the important point here. At your press conference on June the 5th, it was precisely the program that you testified had caused no serious dissent. You said, â€œMr. Comeyâ€™s testimonyâ€ â€” and he only testified once â€” â€œrelated to a highly classified program which the president confirmed to the American people some time ago.â€
SCHUMER: These are your words, right? You donâ€™t deny that these are your words. This was a public press conference.
GONZALES: Iâ€™m told that in fact here in the press conference I did misspeak, but I also went back and clarified it with the reporter.
SCHUMER: You did misspeak?
GONZALES: Yes. But I went back and clarified it with the reporterâ€¦
SCHUMER: When was that? And which â€” what was the reporterâ€™s name?
GONZALES: At The Washington Post two days later.
GONZALES: Dan Eggen was the reporter.
SCHUMER: OK. Well, weâ€™ll want to go follow up with him. But the bottom line is this: You just admitted there was just one program that the president confirmed in Decemberâ€¦
GONZALES: The presidentâ€¦
SCHUMER: â€¦ just one. Is that correct, sir?
GONZALES: The president talked about a set of activitiesâ€¦
SCHUMER: No, I am just asking you a yes-or-no simple question, just as Senator Specter has. And just like Senator Specter and others here, Iâ€™d like to get an answer to that question. You just said there was one program. Are you backing off that now?
GONZALES: The presidentâ€¦
SCHUMER: Was there one program or was there not that the president confirmed?
GONZALES: The president confirmed the existence of one set of intelligence activities.
SCHUMER: Fine. Now letâ€™s go over it again, sir, because I think this shows clear as could be that youâ€™re not being straightforward with this committee; that youâ€™re deceiving us. You then â€” then you said in testimony to this committee in response to a question that I asked, â€œThere has not been any disagreement about the program the president confirmed.â€ Then Jim Comey comes and talks about not just mild dissent, but dissent that shook the Justice Department to the rafters. And here, on June 5th, you say that Comey was testifying about the program the president confirmed. You, sirâ€¦
GONZALES: And Iâ€™ve already saidâ€¦
GONZALES: â€¦ I have clarified my statement on June 5th. Mr. Comey was talking about a disagreement that existed with respect to other intelligence activities.
SCHUMER: How can we â€” this is constant, sir, in all due respect with you. You constantly make statements that are clear on their face that youâ€™re deceiving the committee. And then you go back and say, â€œWell, I corrected the record two days later.â€ How can we trust your leadership when the basic facts about serious questions that have been in the spotlight, you just constantly change the story, seemingly to fit your needs to wiggle out of being caught, frankly, telling mistruths? Itâ€™s clear here. Itâ€™s clear. One program. Thatâ€™s what you just said to me. Thatâ€™s what locks this in. Because before that, you were, sort of, alluding â€” in your letter to me on May 17th, you said, â€œWell, there was one program,â€ â€” you said there was the program, TSP, and then there were other intelligence activities.
GONZALES: Thatâ€™s correct.
SCHUMER: You wanted us to go away and say, â€œWell, maybe it was otherâ€ â€” wait a second, sir. Wait a second.
GONZALES: And the disagreements related to other intelligence activities.
SCHUMER: Iâ€™ll let you speak in a minute, but this is serious, because youâ€™re getting right close to the edge right here. You just said there was just one program â€” just one. So the letter, which was, sort of, intended to deceive, but doesnâ€™t directly do so, because there are other intelligence activities, gets you off the hook, but you just put yourself right back on here.
GONZALES: I clarified my statement two days later with the reporter.
SCHUMER: What did you say to the reporter?
GONZALES: I did not speak directly to the reporter.
SCHUMER: Oh, wait a second â€” you did not.
OK. What did your spokesperson say to the reporter?
GONZALES: I donâ€™t know. But I told the spokesperson to go back and clarify my statementâ€¦
SCHUMER: Well, wait a minute, sir. Sir, with all due respect â€” and if I could have some order here, Mr. Chairman â€” in all due respect, youâ€™re just saying, â€œWell, it was clarified with the reporter,â€ and you donâ€™t even know what he said. You donâ€™t even know what the clarification is. Sir, how can you say that you should stay on as attorney general when we go through exercise like this, where youâ€™re bobbing and weaving and ducking to avoid admitting that you deceived the committee? And now you donâ€™t even know. Iâ€™ll give you another chance: Youâ€™re hanging your hat on the fact that you clarified the statement two days later. Youâ€™re now telling us that is was a spokesperson who did it. What did that spokesperson say? Tell me now, how do you clarify this?
GONZALES: I donâ€™t know, but Iâ€™ll find out and get back to you.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your Attorney General.