Gonzalez 'No Confidence' Measure Won't Force Bush's Hand

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:32 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The White House calls Monday's anticipated vote of "no confidence" in Attorney General Alberto Gonzales "purely symbolic," and President Bush says it won't change anything.

But Senate Democrats are pressing ahead with the nonbinding resolution nevertheless.

On Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a leading critic of Gonzales and a co-sponsor of the resolution, called on Senate Republicans to "put partisanship aside and do what's in the best interest of the Justice Department and the country."

Schumer says bipartisan support for the no-confidence measure could bring about needed change.

"Each and every Senator will have to ask what's more important - fixing the basic functioning of the Justice Department and upholding the rule of law, or voting in lockstep with a President who's out of touch with the serious problems in his Administration," he said.

Schumer added that President Bush would be "hard pressed" to ignore such a "powerful message" from the Senate.

Both Democrats and Republicans blame Gonzales for mismanaging and politicizing the Justice Department. As Schumer put it, Gonzales "fundamentally misconceives his role, inappropriately placing his loyalty to the President above fidelity to the rule of law."

Gonzales has been blasted for his role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys. Democrats believe the federal prosecutors were fired in 2005 for political reasons -- because they were aggressive in pursuing corruption cases involving Republicans and not aggressive enough in going after Democrats.

According to the Los Angeles Times, most Republicans are expected to vote "no" on the resolution. Even though many Republicans are privately critical of Gonzales, they see the no-confidence measure as a political move to embarrass President Bush, the newspaper said.

Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), speaking Sunday on CNN, refused to comment on Gonzales' job performance, but he did criticize Schumer's resolution: "This isn't our form of government to have votes of no confidence. And I object to that process," he said.

Speaking Monday in Bulgaria, President Bush dismissed the pressure from the Senate: "I'll make the determination as to whether he's effective," Bush said of his friend Gonzales.

The Schumer-Feinstein resolution says that Gonzales "no longer holds the confidence of the Senate and of the American people."

"It is perfectly obvious that the president has the right to hire and fire people who serve at his pleasure," White House spokesman Tony Snow said on Fox News Sunday.

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