With the Justice Department investigation of the U.S. Attorneys scandal wrapped up without charges, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has some big legal bills to pay. So Gonzales called on several Bush administration officials — including former President George W. Bush himself — to help.A number of Bush cabinet officials — including former UN ambassador John Bolton, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, and former Homeland Security chiefs Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge — signed a letter soliciting donations to the Alberto R. Gonzales Legal Defense Trust. “President and Mrs. Bush have already made substantial gifts to the Judge’s legal expense fund,” they wrote.
There’s a website to go along with the effort, which informs supporters that Gonzales “needs your help to pay the legal costs associated with defending his decisions and those of the Bush Administration while facing government investigations following his service as Attorney General. Those investigations are now over. Judge Gonzales fully cooperated with all investigations and he has been fully exonerated” [emphasis theirs].
That’s not quite right. Inspector General Glenn Fine testified that Gonzales had “abdicated his responsibility to safeguard the integrity and independence of the department.”
The former Bush administration officials also say that Gonzales was “a good man who helped guide the nation through uncharted legal waters at a time of great peril” who unfairly came under fire.
Some observers might also disagree with the characterization that criticism of Gonzales was unfair. For instance, in an exclusive interview with TPM, Gonzales told me he was aware of the interrogation techniques being used against terrorism suspects. Gonzales headed DOJ during an extremely tumultuous time when the Justice Department was accused of becoming little more than the White House’s political arm.
Records show the domain name was registered on Sept. 28, a couple of months after reports emerged that the probe had ended. Gonzales said over the summer he’d begin raising money as soon as that final investigation wrapped.
The company which registered the domain name has also worked for Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Rudy Giuliani for President, Karl Rove + Company, SarahPAC, the George W. Bush Presidential Center and the Bush-Cheney Alumni Association.
Bush’s support is intriguing given that his administration distanced itself from Gonzales upon the former Attorney General’s retirement, even though the two had worked together for years in Texas. Gonzales also told me that his forthcoming book will offer differing accounts of events from Bush’s book on several unspecified issues.
The letter reads in part:
For three years, Alberto Gonzales had to deal with numerous investigations of his and others’ actions. The harsh campaign conducted against him by some Congressional Democrats and by liberal interest groups was disgraceful and unfair. Now, finally, he’s been vindicated and deserves our help today.”
Why did Judge Gonzales suffer such an unfair assault? Because as Attorney General, he played a role in something perfectly legal and never before questioned – the replacement of a handful of the 93 U.S. Attorneys appointed by President Bush.
Partisan opponents of President Bush tried to create a scandal where there was none so they could damage Judge Gonzales and the President. But we knew Judge Gonzales would be vindicated.
Now that vindication has come. Though it was not nearly as widely reported as were the attacks on Judge Gonzales, the Justice Department finally issued its long-overdue report, concluding no charges were justified.
Now we ask you to join us in helping retire the legal bills Judge Gonzales incurred to insure that his interests were fully protected in the face of the political attacks against him and the Bush Administration.
[H/T Ben Smith]