President Bush on Wednesday said he was "troubled" by what he called a lack of straightforward communication between the US Justice Department and Congress regarding the firings last year of eight US Attorneys that may have been politically motivated. Speaking at a news conference in Mexico, Bush nonetheless said he continued to have confidence in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and maintained that the firings were appropriate. Gonzales said Tuesday he would not resign but nonetheless accepted responsibility for "mistakes" in how the firings were handled.
According to e-mails revealed Tuesday, Gonzales' Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson and former White House counsel Harriet Miers suggested firing all 93 US Attorneys at the beginning of President Bush's second term. Sampson resigned from his position Monday. Comprehensive dismissals of top federal prosecutors are not unprecedented; Clinton administration Attorney-General Janet Reno fired all 93 US Attorneys at the beginning of President Clinton's first term.
Shortly after Bush's comments Wednesday, Sen. John Sununu (R-NH) became the first Republican to publicly call for Gonzales' resignation, following up on several Democratic calls for his dismissal. In response to Gonzales' comments Tuesday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), among others, renewed his calls for Gonzales to resign in a statement on the Senate floor. Several high-ranking Democratic senators also called for Gonzales' resignation Monday in the wake of revelations in an official audit that the FBI broke and misused laws in obtaining personal information from telephone companies, Internet service providers, banks, and credit bureaus under the Patriot Act.