David Kurtz

David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

Articles by David

Roll Call:

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) was arrested in June at a Minnesota airport by a plainclothes police officer investigating lewd conduct complaints in a men’s public restroom, according to an arrest report obtained by Roll Call Monday afternoon.

Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8.

"The resignation of Alberto Gonzales had become inevitable. His situation was a distraction to the Department of Justice and its attempt to carry out its important duties." --Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), who urged Gonzales to replace New Mexico U.S. Attorney David Iglesias after Iglesias failed to indict New Mexico Democrats before the 2006 elections. The politically motivated purge of Iglesias and other U.S. attorneys triggered the series of events which ultimately led to Gonzales' resignation.

The President, his Attorney General, and their wives enjoying a light moment yesterday at the President's Texas ranch:

"It's morning in America, Paul." --Fired U.S. Attorney David Iglesias, speaking to our Paul Kiel, about the resignation of Alberto Gonzales.

Paul Kiel runs down the list of resignations by top DOJ officials in the wake of the U.S. Attorneys purge. It's a remarkable list, especially considering the President's assertion that Alberto Gonzales has not been shown to have done anything wrong.

The New York Times has a little more of the weekend tick-tock leading up to the Gonzales resignation, and I must say that it strikes me as an especially carefully crafted and stage-managed departure:

A senior administration official said today that Mr. Gonzales, who was in Washington, had called the president in Crawford, Tex., on Friday to offer his resignation. The president rebuffed the offer, but said the two should talk face to face on Sunday.

Mr. Gonzales and his wife flew to Texas, and over lunch on Sunday the president accepted the resignation with regret, the official said.

On Saturday night Mr. Gonzales was contacted by his press spokesman to ask how the department should respond to inquiries from reporters about rumors of his resignation, and he told the spokesman to deny the reports.

White House spokesmen also insisted on Sunday that they did not believe that Mr. Gonzales was planning to resign. Aides to senior members of the Senate Judiciary Committee said over the weekend that they had received no suggestion from the administration that Mr. Gonzales intended to resign.

As late as Sunday afternoon, Mr. Gonzales himself was denying through his spokesman that he was quitting. The spokesman, Brian Rohrekasse, said Sunday that he telephoned the attorney general about the reports of his imminent resignation “and he said it wasn’t true — so I don’t know what more I can say.”

Lying to subordinates and the press is par for the course for these guys (and for much of official Washington in similar circumstances, truth be told). So nothing out of the ordinary there. But this elaborate choreograph, as related to The Times by administration officials, of Bush initially rebuffing the resignation, seems designed to emphasize that the timing and circumstances of Gonzales' departure was of his own choosing and that the President's hand was not being forced by Democrats on the Hill.

In short, I don't buy that tick-tock as being an accurate reflection of events, not with an attorney general who became a bipartisan laughingstock perhaps unparalleled among cabinet officers in U.S. history. The man was run out of town. The White House effort seems designed to minimize the appearance of that fact. If a fraction of the effort that went into stage-managing the politics of the resignation were put into actually running the Justice Department, or governing generally, well, then we wouldn't be mired quite as deeply in this mess as we are.

We saw the sour, petulant Bush on display in his public statement from Waco this morning. His longtime crony Alberto Gonzales remains "a talented honorable person" whose "good name was dragged through the mud" during "months of unfair treatment."

We'll have the video of the President's statement up shortly.

Update: Here is the President, a discerning judge of men:

We're rounding up the reaction to the Gonzales resignation from key figures. Some of the highlights:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV): "Alberto Gonzales was never the right man for this job. He lacked independence, he lacked judgment, and he lacked the spine to say no to Karl Rove."

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): "This will not bring peace. This will bring more chaos."

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): “The resignation of Attorney General Gonzales is long overdue. The rampant politicization of federal law enforcement that occurred under his tenure seriously eroded public confidence in our justice system."

John Edwards: "Better late than never."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): "I spoke with the White House this morning, and suggested a couple of nominees who I believe would easily gain confirmation."*

And my favorite, from Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL): "Alberto Gonzales is the first Attorney General who thought the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth were three different things."

More reactions here.

*Just guessing, but one of Feinstein's suggestions had to be former DAG Jim Comey, a non-starter for Bush.

Solicitor General Paul Clement is reported to be President Bush's choice for acting Attorney General.

Update: The AP is also reporting that a permanent replacement for Gonzales may not be announced before the President leaves for Australia next Monday, which at least suggests that the White House does plan on sending a nomination to the Senate for confirmation, rather than attempting some sort of recess appointment or other vacancy shenanigan. Late Update: As U.S. News' "Washington Whispers" first reported over the weekend, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff is being floated as a possible permanent replacement for Gonzales. CNN is now reporting that Chertoff is the "likely" nominee. Considering that Chertoff presided over the Katrina disaster, his nomination as attorney general would be nothing short of unbelievable.