This is a persnickety point, perhaps, but it's so much more fun to bust Alberto Gonzales in one of his subtle evasions than one of his real blatant lies.
In his most recent appearance before the Senate Judiciary Commitee, Chuck Schumer asked Gonzales whether he knew that Comey had assumed the powers of Acting Attorney General--Schumer was trying to point out how totally inappropriate it was for Gonzales to go to Ashcroft's hospital room at all.
As is his way, Gonzales invented a lame, transparent excuse for his unethical behavior, admitting only that he "probably knew" that Comey was acting Attorney General and suggesting he learned of that fact from newspaper accounts.
SCHUMER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your waiting for the votes.
I have just a few quick questions that I hope you'll be able to answer quickly and concisely.
First, Mr. Attorney General, at the time you went to Mr. Ashcroft's hospital bed, did you know that power had been transferred to Jim Comey?
GONZALES: I think there were newspaper accounts, and the fact that Mr. Comey was the acting attorney general is probably something that I knew of.
SCHUMER: Probably you know of it?
GONZALES: Well, again sitting here today, I can't tell you, yes, absolutely I knew. But let me make an important point here. The fact the transfer had -- let's assume the transfer had occurred.
There's no governing legal principle that says that Mr. Ashcroft, if he decided he felt better, could decide, "I'm feeling better and I could make this decision and I'm going to make this decision." But to answer your question, I'm...
SCHUMER: But you believe you knew? That's how -- is that a fair characterization?
GONZALES: I would say that -- let's just assume that I knew but, again, I'm not sure that's the main point.
SCHUMER: And at the time you went to Mr. Ashcroft's hospital bed -- you touched on this -- what was your understanding of Mr. Ashcroft's authority?
GONZALES: My understanding -- sitting here today, my understanding is that -- the main focus was -- is that Mr. Comey would be making the decision with respect to this matter. [my emphasis]
Well, of course you knew, you little shit! From Mueller's log:
Tuesday 3/9/04, 1600: Meeting at Card's office with Comey, attorneys from OLC, VP, Card, Gonzales, Hayden and others. [my emphasis]
The day before he stormed into Ashcroft's hospital room, Gonzales attended a meeting about the warrantless wiretapping program with James Comey, who was undoubtedly there in his role as Acting Attorney General.
How about we don't just assume that you know, Gonzales? How about you tell us what went on in that meeting? Because it's pretty transparent you were trying to avoid admitting you had met with Comey about this program in his capacity as Acting Attorney General just a day before you barged into the ICU ward.