(Washington, D.C.) It might as well be Ronald Reagan's second term during the Iran-Contra hearings when the line went "what did the President know and when did he forget it?" Just substitute "Alberto Gonzales" for "President", because of the smoking gun testimony of the Attorney General's former Chief of Staff, Kyle Samspon, stating Alberto Gonzales was at meetings where the firings were discussed. In reaction to the entire "Gonzales debate", President Bush is offering what he calls his "Abbott & Costello" precedent on exactly how much Alberto Gonzales knew about the termination of eight U.S. attorneys.
The President began his press conference with a certain confidence found in many hospice patients. "I want to be very clear that I don't stand behind Attorney General Gonzales. I stand more behind and to the left of him. And when I appointed him to the position in 2005, which was two years ago. No, let me be correct, it was two years, three months and a week and a half ago…"
It was then that an AP reporter asked if, as Attorney General Alberto Gonzales claims, he fired the US Attorneys because they were not performing, why do Justice Department records show that six of the eight were rated in the top third of US Attorneys? "Well, the top third is not the top fifth, eighth or even thirty-second", replied the President. "I also may have to get back to you on the exact time Attorney General Gonzales has served with excellence, since 2005 may have been a leap year. Does anyone know?"
Another reporter then named a specific US attorney, Carol Lam, who was allegedly dismissed by Attorney General Gonzales for being soft on prosecuting illegal immigrants. But U.S. Attorney Lam successfully prosecuted a member of a Tijuana Drug Cartel named Patricia Palacios. The President acknowledged the fact, but with a footnote. "What we have to ask is was Ms. Palacios here illegally at the time?"
The only time the President seemed somewhat frustrated was when a reporter believed to be from the Manhattan community newspaper "Our Town" asked if Alberto Gonzales fired these attorneys legitimately why did he first deny knowing anything about it? And if they were not fired for legitimate reasons but for the White House's political agenda, does the President feel his administration is above the checks and balances guaranteed by the Constitution?
The President bristled. "Now, you said that, not me. I'm not saying that the President is above the Constitution. I firmly stand on the Constitution. I use it for a welcome mat to the Oval office. If that doesn't express how I value it, I don't know what does."
The reporter attempted a follow up, but the President abruptly ended the press conference due to a scheduled headache.
ADDENDUM: President Clinton fired all of the US attorneys and still had time to fool around with Monica Lewinsky.