STEVE INSKEEP, host:
Back to another legal matter now. And here is one advantage of brevity. We can tell you everything that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said while announcing his resignation in the last few minutes. We're going to talk about what he said afterward. First, let's listen for a couple of minutes here.
Attorney General ALBERTO GONZALES (U.S. Department of Justice): Good morning. Thirteen years ago, I entered public service to make a positive difference in the lives of others. And during this time I have traveled a remarkable journey, from my home state of Texas to Washington, D.C., supported by the unwavering love and encouragement of my wife Rebecca and our sons Jared, Graham and Gabriel.
Yesterday I met with President Bush and informed him of my decision to conclude my government service as attorney general of the United States effective as of September 17th, 2007.
Let me say that it's been one of my greatest privileges to lead the Department of Justice. I have great admiration and respect for the men and women who work here. I have made a point as attorney general to personally meet as many of them as possible, and today I want to again thank them for their service to our nation. It is through their continued work that our country and our communities remain safe, that rights of civil liberties of our citizens are protected, and the hopes and dreams of all of our children are secured.
I often remind our fellow citizens that we live in the greatest country in the world and that I have lived the American dream. Even my worst days as attorney general have been better than my father's best days.
Public service is honorable and noble. And I am profoundly grateful to President Bush for his friendship and for the many opportunities he has given me to serve the American people.
Thank you, and God bless America.
INSKEEP: That's Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announcing his resignation this morning. He then walked away from the podium, from the lectern, and walked away from the shouted questions of a number of reporters on the scene here in Washington, D.C.
NPR's senior correspondent Juan Williams has been following this story and we'll repeat again that Gonzales is leaving as of September 17th. Juan, as we listen again to that statement, you do hear a couple of lines where there's a sense of emotion, a sense of emotion when he says even my worst days as attorney general were better than my father's best days; he seems to suggests that all the difficulty he suffered as attorney general didn't affect him that much.
WILLIAMS: Well, you know, it did affect him. I don't think there's any getting away from it, Steve. I picked up on that line too. I thought that that line was almost poetic in the sense that it really spoke to the lifelong journey of the, you know, the guy who comes from Mexican parents and - but you know, it suggested also they were bad days, and there were lots of bad days recently where people simply didn't trust the attorney general of the United States, and you got to trust your top law enforcement officer in the country.
And among the people that no longer trusted his were FBI Director Mueller and even the former Attorney General John Ashcroft, and stories about how he went into that hospital room, you'll recall, to try to get Ashcroft to change an opinion. This is the kind of thing that just undermined him and has, you know, lessened the confidence that his fellow employees at the Justice Department have in him. So I thought it was telling that he also spoke lovingly of the fellow employee because I think ultimately they were the ones who proved to be his undoing because he no longer could be effective as their leader.
INSKEEP: Very briefly, did President Bush, as far as you know, still trust him?
WILLIAMS: He did, and in fact wanted him to stay on. And this was a decision made by Alberto Gonzales and his wife, Rebecca, that he referenced, because I think the sense was that he was hanging in the wind, he was being loyal. The White House simply wanted him to stay in place. And it sounds like, you know, the family decision was, you know, we've had enough. We've been pummeled, reputation damaged.
INSKEEP: And a political decision as well.
WILLIAMS: And a political decision, actually, to get out. Right.
INSKEEP: Juan, thanks very much.
WILLIAMS: You're welcome, Steve.
INSKEEP: That's NPR's Juan Williams, guiding us through a major story this morning. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced his resignation earlier today at the Department of Justice. He will leave in mid-September. There's mush speculation about a replacement. And we'll be watching to see what happens next. We will continue to bring you more throughout this day and in the days to come as we learn more.
You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.
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