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May 17, 2007


It's a barometer for whether Karl can still maintain discipline.

Talking is one thing--if they vote against Karl, they have truly slipped the leash.

Right, but if the leaks coming out are not total BS, Karl would have preferred Gonzales to go peacefully about a month ago--and preferably before Monica testifies. Given the coordinated response of the Republicans in HJC earlier this week, that may have changed. That is, it may have gone too far for the Republicans to be able to dictate a successor (like Laurence Silberman). Which may make mean Rove's thoughts have changed.

But if Rove still feels like HE'D be safer with Gonzales gone, the Senators may have some leverage in this matter.

ANd consider: Rove too Coleman came out today calling for Gonzales' ouster. If he's a barometer (and I think he is), then I think we could at least get 66 on no confidence.


Well reasoned. From your lips to God's ear.

Here's a list of the Republicans listed in this post who are also running for office in 2008:


Coleman, Norm- (R - MN)
Roberts, Pat- (R - KS)
Sununu, John E.- (R - NH)
Smith, Gordon H.- (R - OR)
Sessions, Jeff- (R - AL)
Graham, Lindsey- (R - SC)


Alexander, Lamar- (R - TN)
Collins, Susan M.- (R - ME)
Warner, John- (R - VA)


Stevens, Ted- (R - AK)
Domenici, Pete V.- (R - NM)

Looks like we might have a lot of leverage there if we were focus on writing LTE's in local paper forums in their home states, or if their constituents pitched in and started hammering on them.

p.s. you'll note I ignored Lieberman. What a piece of crap, I hope the folks in CT will be working on him and his lie about caucusing with Dems.

Apologies for OT posting, but I thought folks around here might be interested in this long, but deeply sourced story/profile (or is it hatchet-job?) of Waas:


With regards to impeachment, has anyone on the judiciary committee or any other congresspeople/Senators ever uttered that word (impeachment, that is) with regard to Gonzo? I've only seen it mentioned on blogs. I'm surprised Schumer, Spector, and Leahy haven't been alluding to it. Or have they?

Kyl? Wasn't he the one, along with Hatch, who was defending everything/everybody in the Sampson hearing? (or am I thinking of somebody else?)

Albert above mentions Karl Rove, and I wonder what his present take on this is.

I think the Republicans in general, and the White House especially, are in great danger here. If Abu G goes, there will have to be a new AG who can be confirmed by the Democratic Senate, and who will be far more reasonable than Abu G. And I think that will bust the logjam and lead to another Watergate.

If a new AG starts appointing independent prosecutors, releasing documents, responding to subpoenas (all the things Abu G is so good at "gumming up") then it's over for this administration. And even if the dirty laundry is from the White House, that will still be bad for all the Republicans looking to get re-elected.

If there's any way at all that Abu G can be left twisting slowly until more of the MSM are bored of the whole foul story, while Fox et al. claim this is just political spin and that Congress must stop pestering Abu G so that he can continue his vital work keeping this country (especially the kids!) safe, then that is what will happen.

I am not saying they will succeed in this, just that they are certainly pig-headed enough to try.

you skipped over david addington.

put him in the washing machine too.

Self-Importance for Self-Importance Party - LOL!


They're in a really dangerous moment. If we CAN get about 70 votes of no confidence (a tall order, but we've got 23 above to play with) then it'll signal to the Dems that an indictment is within reach. If that happens, then Conyers' body becomes a true investigative body, with much greater powers of investigation than it currently has. Which is almost as bad as having to go through an AG appoint. This was the risk they took in keeping AGAG on--bc back in February, they would have been sure to get a real Bushie in to replace AGAG. No longer, I suspect.

I just think BushCo didn't expect Schumer to deal the Comey card.

Hmmm. Good analysis of the here-and-now, but a good politician will be thinking about what the landscape will look like in November 2008. The warrantless wiretapping scandal looks like it's even worse than expected. If I were a Republican Senator up for re-election in 2008, I'd be wondering just how many more shoes are going to drop between now and the election. Then I'd ask myself, "If I vote AGAINST removing Gonzales, and he ends up staying in office, what are the chances that yet another scandal will break, and my Democratic opponent will bludgeon me to death with my vote when we hit the campaign trail?" When you look at it from that perspective, it's really a no-brainer.

Comey exposed Bush for having really bad manners.

His Godfather-hospital-scene story about Card and Gonzales struck a nerve inside the Beltway about what thugs they are, and how little decency the administration has.

Personally, I thought they were bad guys based on the destruction of Iraq, the wholesale lying, the disregard for the Constitution, the reckless war spending, and the Plame treason, but I must be pretty simple to convince.

I want their grip on power to relentlessly and speedily erode, as more of this becomes known.

Still, cockroaches survive everything......

Collins votes yes on no-confidence, no on impeachment. And gets loud huzzahs for 'fairness' and 'balance' and 'moderation' from the Blethen family's mouthpiece, the Portland Press Herald -- because she's a reliable vote to abolish the estate tax, and that's all the Blethens care about.


It's not that easy, I don't think. I've accounted for all the Senators whose 2008 run would introduce that calculus, even including Domenici and Stevens who would normally be "slam dunks" for re-election (though Domenici, on this issue, is a unique case). I just don't see Senators Sessions, Graham, or Roberts getting pressed on this issue.

Davis X

You may well be right on that--it would be typical of her. Though at some point Collins might realize how few Republicans there are left in New England...

If Domenici plans to retire (the conventional wisdom last time I checked) how does that that affect your calculus for predicting his votes on no confidence and impeachment?

This thing is spin-proof: a frightened wife called for help to protect her extremely ill husband from thugs. There is absolutely no way to 'spin' that story, and anyone who tries is a fool.

From here on out, it doesn't matter whether Bush, Cheney, and Gonzo claim Executive Privilege, or whether they claim that USAG's 'serve at the pleasure of the President'. Because these are the very people against whom a conservative Republican wife had to protect her extremely ill husband, while he was in Critical Care.

They've violated basic human decency. Nothing like this occurred even during Watergate.

Any US Senator who supports Gonzo/Bush inescapably tells these people to 'shove it':
Senator John Ashcroft, Mrs Ashcroft, Deputy AG Comey, DoJ Goldsmith,
FBI Mueller (and his agents), and others at DoJ.

Anyone who supports Bu$hCo/Gonzo is inescapably supporting: Gonzales, Sampson, Goodling/Rove, Cheney, Addington

Either you respect the sanctity of a hospital bed, and individual privacy -- OR you support the right of thugs, acting in the interests of the Unitary Executive, to harrass people.

The Dems now have the evidence; they need to take action. Leaders don't sit in endless hearings and allow liars to waste their time; if the Dems fail to act, they have no claim to leadership.

Rove can spin himself all the way to Pluto; but nothing changes the fact Comey and his DoJ colleagues required the assistance of the FBI to protect the AG against WH thugs.
Not spinnable.

Being from Missouri, I agree that Bond would vote for no confidence on Gonzo and I believe it's very likely that he would vote for impeachment because he and Ashcroft have been buddies for a long time.

Thanks Quzi--I hadn't thought about the Ashcroft connection until RoTL's post. But I'll add it above.

On the pessimistic side, I hate to sound like Idjo, but I'm not seeing much coverage of what to us is the bombshell from Comey. When I checked the news that day, it got almost no attention and I assumed the testimony was a dud. Only after seeking out the actual video did I get chills down my spine. Is there indication that Republican senators have actually changed position on Gonzales based on Comey? I still think we need a full bandwidth, 24/7 coverage bombshell from either Goodling or Ralston to turn the corner on this epic stonewalling effort.

On the optimistic side, if I were Schumer and I knew I had such a bombshell coming, a pre-bombshell no-confidence vote would be a brilliant chess move in terms of setting a trap for the 2008 election bids of all those endangered Republican incumbent senators. Get them to back up Gonzales based on the current atmosphere and then crucify them when broad-based public outrage sets in.

But broad-based outrage, shamefully, is damned hard to come by in this country. Katrina, Foley, Haggard and, oddly, the Dubay Ports thing ... maybe Walter Reed ... that's about it for Bush debacles which have actual provoked real outrage on the American street. The slimiest sins of DeLay, Cheney, & Rove, Abu Graib, torture, Tillman & Lynch, wire-tapping, war-profiteering, corporate fraud, oil company price-gouging, Abramoff, Plame ... none of these have really pierced the thick, callous moral skin of the television-addled average American.

... depressing.

Emptywheel, yes, this is a crucial moment.

Comey's shocking story may change everything - IF the MSM are galvanized by it. Between Abu G's imminent grilling and the no confidence vote, this may be too much story for the MSM to ignore. Most of these Republican Senators would love to forget this whole stink, but they may do the right thing if they feel the outrage now, and are convinced that it will only increase and persist until Abu G. goes.

Abu G. has been so dense - I couldn't believe, after his strategically polite goodbye letter, that he would stab McNulty in the back and try to pin the firings on him (when we already know McNulty was mostly out of the loop). He is offensive to anyone with a conscience, which may well lead to more leaks from the DoJ.

Schumer is playing this very well. I wonder what Comey said after his testimony, behind closed doors - and whether Schumer can make use of what he learned.

Thank you for your constant and insightful work on all this - you, Froomkin and Greenwald are my favorite gadflies, doing your best to wake the slumbering giant of the MSM.

I maintain that it's a mistake to count on Maverick Johnnie- he's missed some 50 senate votes in a row, why would he show up for this one?

Well, it's on the front page of tomorrow's NYT and WaPo, which is a good start.

Hi EW,

Good post!

One other calculation to take into account. By having a "no confidence" vote first, Senator Schumer is giving Senators an out. Senators who may be politically vulnerable, internally ("Rove payback is a bitch") or externally ("the voters don't much like me anymore?"), can vote "yes" on "no confidence" and then vote "no" on impeachment and say that they did the right thing on voting for "no confidence". They can explain that their vote was intended to put pressure on Gonzales to resign or for the President to fire him but that they didn't vote for impeachment because that was all about politics. Unfortunately, the Clinton impeachment debacle has clearly cast an unfavorable pall over impeachment in the mind of the public. While this argument sounds weak, and it is weak, it at least gives recalcitrant Republicans something upon which they can point to as having done their job.

I suspect the political calculus is completely different now. The White House has hung onto Gonzales so long that now they can't afford to let him go. The time for cutting a deal with the Senate so they could get a guy they'd want in place of Gonzales is long gone, I assume, unless the Democrats are content to "get" Gonzales and let the other more important matters lie.

Tomorrow (Friday) will be the third day in a row that the WaPo has its lead editorial focusing on this, excoriating BushCo and calling them criminals. They are now officially Pissed Off, and although it took an agonizingly long time, their line has been crossed.

I'm with ReaderofTeaLeaves -- this was a Schiavo moment that let us see these people for who they are. Odd that manipulating sick people in hospitals are in both dramas, but maybe that's what it takes to for some to recognize the nature of the beast.

Norm Coleman and Lieberman are best buddies -- I rather suspect that Lieberman might follow Norm's lead on this. Moreover, Norm's local money is not from the Religious Right, but from the circle in which the Heffelfinger Family is center point -- Minnesota Old Money. Paulose is pay off to the Bachman side of the party -- the Christian Coalition Folk.

I think Vonavitch of Ohio (sp?) could go for both no confidence as well as impeachment. Not running next year, and has apparently said just two terms, but the Dem got a nice margin last year in Ohio. Gonzo has some connections to the rare coin dealer (now in Jail) who did in the Ohio Republican Party.

Allard in Colarado is not running again -- he might be a free spirit.

I agree with Reader of Tea Leaves as to how this can be spun -- this is Terri Schivo all over again if you focus on the sanctity of the hospital sick room with a no visitors sign on the door. Remember 80% of Americans thought the spouse should hold the power over the sick room.

So what needs to be done -- well if the no confidence resolution passes, and Goodling does not have a good day next week -- then just remember it took about half a million letters and telegrams for impeachment landing on congress (the House) in the wake of the Saturday Night Massacre to get a mass of resolutions in the hopper demanding impeachment. If I remember rightly it was over a hundred resolutions in the first day Congress was back after the Massacre. So we need a deluge of letters to congresscritters toward the end of next week. Maybe someone can start a mass Internet Petition Campaign in addition to snail mail letters. Perhaps a downloadable form ought to be created that could be printed out and used by name collecters, district by district. Back in 1974 I stood on the downtown Mall wearing a high hat saying Impeach Now, Sign Here, for about three hours with a clipboard collecting names -- and I had them lined up to sign. Today I have one click access to E-Mail lists for every activist DFL'er in the 5th District, and could easily access state mailing lists.

So let's get organized!!!

this was a Schiavo moment

ah! That was another one. That was before my time. After the 2004 elections I dropped out completely and avoided all news until I accidentally stumbled on "What Judy Did" and became obsessed.

Just when you think you're out ... they pull you back in!

But what was the story on Schiavo? I've never understood that whole story.

"This thing is spin-proof: a frightened wife called for help to protect her extremely ill husband from thugs. There is absolutely no way to 'spin' that story, and anyone who tries is a fool."

Good point, RoTL, however we don't have the Dems making this a big deal yet. Even Schumer's and DiFis statements today did not get to the crux of the Comey testimony. Maybe if it catches fire in the blogosphere there's a possibility it may get some traction. The one good thing that I saw today was Kelly O'Donnell directly asking Bush.

I hope the Dems make a real big deal about this - not only the attempt to use an incapacitated Ashcroft in hospital to sign off on an illegal domestic spying "program" but that the President was directly involved in trying to make an end run.

Unless a shitstorm is created around this we are likely to fall into the next story mode like the no-confidence vote and the bigger issue of the President directly involved in a possible criminal act to subvert the constitution will go by the wayside.

I hope Schumer, Leahy, etc focus on the bigger picture - the criminality and politicization of justice - rather than just getting AbuGs scalp. No doubt that could be helpful in getting a more independent AG.

Linky to the WaPo editorial:
Caller ID
It's not whether the president called. It's what he did.
Friday, May 18, 2007; Page A22

IT DOESN'T much matter whether President Bush was the one who phoned Attorney General John D. Ashcroft's hospital room before the Wednesday Night Ambush in 2004. It matters enormously, however, whether the president was willing to have his White House aides try to strong-arm the gravely ill attorney general into overruling the Justice Department's legal views. It matters enormously whether the president, once that mission failed, was willing nonetheless to proceed with a program whose legality had been called into question by the Justice Department. That is why Mr. Bush's response to questions about the program yesterday was so inadequate.

I think the folks for whom the op-eds in the WaPo are the key to thought will be shaken (not stirred) tomorrow. This piece reads to me as someone there definitely getting the idea, at last.

obsessed: But what was the story on Schiavo? I've never understood that whole story.

You shouldn't feel like you missed much, as it was an especially sordid episode of Americans politics. Without going into the details, the Republicans overestimated the general public's support for the insane right-to-life rhetoric of the xtianists. They drew a parallel between a fetus and the still-living-husk of what used to be a woman, and decided to interfere with her husband's decision to remove the life support from the body his wife used to animate. Bill Frist famously watched a videotape of Terry's shell and exercised his (unlicensed) medical expertise to diagnose her as having a chance of making a full recovery. Of course, CAT-scans showed that her brain had atrophied by something like 80%, eliminating all possibility of conscious thought- but why bother with the scientific tools of medicine when you have faith?

There was a circus in Florida, and then in Washington. Again, omitting most of the details, the GOP revealed themselves to be craven hypocritical liars, playing to the lowest common denominator. Everyone execept the xtianists were disgusted by the whole thing on an intensely personal family level, and anyone who had previously lost a loved one or been faced with a similar decision was immediately converted to a Democrat-for-life.

So, Veritas78 is saying that this is another one of heinously wrong actions that you don't need to be a PoliSci/Econ junkie to appreciate. The reason more people aren't outraged about the USA firing scandal is that they have the attention span of gnats, and it's too complicated for them to "get it" in their gut. But here, the President ordered his men to harass the Attorney General, in his hospital bed, against his wife's wishes, while he was almost too drugged to tell them no!

Against his wife's wishes! While he was in the hospital! The program was illegal! The President ordered them to do it!

Those are sound bytes to bring down a presidency.

Illegal eavesdropping, conspiracy to corrupt DOJ, illegal war, and where are those darn e-mails? I actually believe we are going to witness the impeachment of G.W. Bush. I only worry Cheney will fill the void.


who said the President ordered them to do it?

obsessed, Schiavo, Terri. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terri_Schiavo

A conflict within a family over whether to remove the feeding tube of a young woman, Terri Schiavo (whose brain scans showed her to be 'brain dead'), became highly politicized. Bush43, Rove, and his rightwing GOP comrades argued that removing the feeding tube 'denied her right to life". The Terri Schiavo conflict prompted Bush43 to push for legislation that would place decisions about End of Life issues in the hands of the (federal) government -- rather than with families and their medical advisors.

Many people in the medical community, church congregations, and families felt the proposed GOP/Bush43 legislation was intrusive of the government, a danger to family relationships, and an infringement on personal liberties and responsibilities. They argued that Terri Schiavo's situation was a QUALITY of life issue.

Bush43 and his GOP wing underestimated how many 'ordinary' Americans have been involved in End of Life decisions and care giving. In other words, many people drew deeply from personal experiences in their analysis of the Schiavo issue.

If you have not had a family member in a crisis, or in an extended care situation, you may not recognize how important Mrs Ashcroft's presence must have been for her husband. Although I have no way of knowing the nature of the relationship between Mr and Mrs Ashcroft, nor do I regard it as any of my business, it is reasonable to suppose that she was in the hospital room because she was caring for him, which would include protecting him and advocating for him while he was incapacitated.

I suspect that any physician or nurse will tell you that social/family (friends) support is a critical factor in patient recovery. Using the information that Mr Comey conveyed, it's evident that Mrs Ashcroft put her husband's health as her highest responsibility. Personally, I commend her for that -- and if it included standing up to a President, then my respect is even deeper.

And if Mrs Ashcroft was with her husband, keeping an eye on him and interacting on his behalf wtih the physicians, then no matter what political differences I may have with her, I respect her for her compassionate care and her willingness to 'do battle' on behalf of someone she cared about.
But it does make one consider what might have happened if Mrs Ashcroft had not been present -- one shudders to think of Gonzales and Card pressuing a medicated, probably exhausted John Ashcroft to sign critical documents.

(I can think of two ICU nurses that I know, and one surgeon, who'd have tossed Gonzo and Card out and called the cops if they'd had any situation like this occur with a patient. Many hospital caregivers can be really protective of their patients, but it is easier for them to provide quality care if there is a family advocate to help take notes and communicate with extended family and friends.)

Anyone who has been in the role of caregiver, or spent much time around hospital or hospice faciliities, will probably view actions of Mr Gonzales and Mr Card (and Bush) as unconscionsable.
But I defintely tip my hat to Mrs Ashcroft, no matter what I may think of her politics. She did the right, compassionate thing for her husband, and it appears that the nation benefitted as well. We can't ask more than that of anyone.

Too much info; sorry.

readerofTeaLeaves, Mrs. Ashcroft deserves the thanks of our nation. I suspect her husband knew her to be trustworthy enough to share with her his concerns about what the White House was up to and she was rightfully concerned with the power play by C&G. I know nothing about Mrs. Ashcroft's politics but she may or may not totally agree with her husband's. I would like to hear from her.

Schiavo surely -- but this reminds me more of the Macaca moment we witnessed last summer in far western Virginia. This has the same visceral, memorable, thrill down your spine certainty that they've finally done it.
The Macaca incident disappeared from the MSM for a while, seeming a one- or two-day wonder, but it lived on at YouTube, and ultimately pulled George Allen down, a miracle I thought I'd never live to see and that I am thankful for every time I watch a Republican presidential debate.
No question that that story lived on -- as this one will -- because of the power of online video and the blogosphere.
Thanks for what you do, EW and all the commenters here.

Maybe insignificant - maybe not:

Kelly O'Donnell occasionally posts on the Daily Nightly blog at the MSNBC website. That blog is read by the exec producers and editors, and I'm fairly certain that they read all comments submitted. I had lambasted her for posting a vapid piece about the Bush/Cheney gift records and challenged her to earn her journalist paycheck with questions about Bush's directive to Card/Gonzales to coerce Ashcroft. Lo and behold, the next day she did so.

Perhaps heaping a lot of praise her way will protect her from her boss -Russert's ire and encourage her to keep asking.

There is also a new feature of that blog called Nuthin' But Net which is a not bad web links roundup of hard news - leans left with a few not bad right links - not much, if any wingnuttery so far (haven't seen any links to Drudge).

Jodi: who said the President ordered them to do it?

you did, just there! "The president ordered them to do it!" So it must be true!

Stop the presses! Jodi agrees! The President ORDERED Gonzales to break the law, and Gonzales did it!

"Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA): Specter will water down the no confidence language, then vote yes on it. But, since Specter has never met a courageous decision he didn't run from, he'll almost certainly vote "present" or some such nonsense on impeachment." -- emptywheel

Where do I put money on this?? Ms. Wheeler, your analytical skills are peerless!

I hate be the wet blanket around here, but I'm sceptical that the Republicans in the Senate will actually vote for a Democratic resolution of this type. I expect to see a lot of back-tracking comments about how it's up to the President to be the decider (although not using that particular terminology). I wouldn't be surprised to see a few defections from the Dem side either. I hope I'm wrong, but we will see.


dry out.

Okay - the next day - now we see that Coburn is a neo-con not voting no-con - instead he calls it a partisan stunt.

Hopefully this is Schumer's trap to hang the pro-gonzo albatross vote around their necks and then leave them flailing when upcoming testimony drives a stake through his rasputinesque heart.

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