Via the AP:
Sen. Chuck Hagel on Wednesday became the latest Republican to call for Alberto Gonzales' resignation, saying revelations about a sick bed visit to his predecessor has undermined his moral authority to lead the Justice Department.Hagel's the sanest Republican who might yet run. I wish he would get off the fence because he would attract a lot of GOP moderates who don't currently have a candidate (Rudy doesn't count, he's an uber-hawk) and the GOP really needs to move back towards the center for the good of two-party politics.
Citing dramatic testimony a day earlier that revealed that Gonzales, then the White House legal counsel, tried to undermine the department he now leads, Hagel demanded the attorney general's resignation.
``The American people deserve an attorney general, the chief law enforcement officer of our country, whose honesty and capability are beyond question,'' Hagel, R-Neb., said in a statement. ``Attorney General Gonzales can no longer meet this standard. He has failed this country. He has lost the moral authority to lead.''
President Bush continued to stand by his longtime friend and adviser. Asked about Hagel's comment on Gonzales' moral authority, press secretary Tony Snow replied: ``We disagree, and the president supports the attorney general.''
Hagel has hinted at seeking his party's presidential nomination but has not officially declared his candidacy. Another GOP contender, Sen. John McCain, last month called for Gonzales' resignation.
Hagel's harsh words came in response to testimony Tuesday by James Comey, deputy to Gonzales' predecessor, John Ashcroft. Comey said that Gonzales pressured an ailing Ashcroft to approve the legality of President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program. Ashcroft - critically ill with pancreatitis at the time - rebuffed Gonzales, Comey recalled.
The White House went ahead with the program without Justice Department approval, Comey said. Faced with the resignations of Comey, Ashcroft and FBI Director Robert Mueller, Bush relented and changed the program to address Justice's concerns.
The story plus the dustup over the firings of at least eight federal prosecutors inspired Hagel to demand that Gonzales step down.
``Alberto Gonzales should resign now,'' Hagel said.