Like many of you, I awoke this morning to the news that Alberto Gonzales had submitted his resignation as Attorney General.
Following in the footsteps of his close friend Karl Rove, Gonzales exits the White House under a cloud of scandal. It must be made clear, however, that their resignations in no way mark the end to investigations into the abuses of power at the Justice Department. The Democratic Congress and I will continue to demand answers concerning the dismissal of eight U.S attorneys, as well as a host of other issues at the Justice Department.
The Attorney General's resignation is the product of a pattern we have seen time and again under this administration: our trusted federal agencies have been reduced to partisan instruments for the benefit of the White House and the Republican Party. And we have repeatedly seen in the Bush administration that competence takes a backseat to ideology and qualification to partisanship.
We can not afford to see this repeated with our next Attorney General; it is essential that our nation's top law enforcement officer understand their obligation is to the rule of law and not the political concerns of the President and his party.
Prosecutors in the Justice Department need to know that they can pursue their investigations regardless of where they may lead without fear of political retribution. The American people need to know that their Justice Department is focused on upholding the law and not finding ways around it.
Although Alberto Gonzales will soon be gone, the damage done to the Department of Justice remains. It is absolutely imperative that trust and accountability be restored to the beleaguered Department. More broadly, it is my hope that today will begin the restoration of our federal agencies as the independent and objective institutions that the American people expect them to be.