Sen. Sessions: 'Sad Day' for Gonzales and Agency Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a member of the Judiciary Committee that questioned Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Thursday, calls the event "a sad day" that should lead to Gonzales meeting with President Bush to consider stepping down from the helm of the Justice Department.
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Sen. Sessions: 'Sad Day' for Gonzales and Agency

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Sen. Sessions: 'Sad Day' for Gonzales and Agency

Sen. Sessions: 'Sad Day' for Gonzales and Agency

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

ROBERT SIEGEL, Host:

And I'm Robert Siegel with more now on the Gonzales appearance. Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, who is a Republican member of the Judiciary Committee, joins us from Capitol Hill. Welcome back to the program.

JEFF SESSIONS: Thank you and good afternoon.

SIEGEL: The ranking Republican on the committee, Arlen Specter, said at the start of today's hearing the purpose of this Senate oversight hearing is to determine this committee's judgment as to whether Attorney General Gonzales should continue in that capacity. What's your answer to that question? Should he or should he not?

SESSIONS: So I think the hearing was a very sad day, frankly. It was not something I enjoyed at all. I think the attorney general will have to meet with the president and seriously evaluate whether or not he can be effective.

SIEGEL: You are saying everything but I think he should leave the Department of Justice. You're walking right up to the edge and not saying it, Senator.

SESSIONS: One of the toughest parts of that job is appearing before that Senate Judiciary Committee, which is probably toughest committee in the Congress, and he really had a tough time, and he did some good things, and some were troubling.

SIEGEL: Do you agree with Senator Whitehouse, whom we heard from a moment ago, that the attorney general is doing damage to the Department of Justice by continuing there right now?

SESSIONS: Actually, I think there has been some damage done to the department from allegations against the attorney general that don't seem to be - have fact behind them, that could create an impression that there's far more serious wrongdoing than any evidence suggests at this point. And then people say, well, you need to be removed, Mr. Attorney General, because you've created this uproar that in large part they themselves created. But I was troubled...

SIEGEL: But you're not saying that it's all smoke and no fire here...

SESSIONS: That worried me, and when we went to his explanation for how we got in this mess, his - he was contradicted by his chief of staff previously, who said he was in the meeting, and so that was...

SIEGEL: So those things left you troubled...

SESSIONS: ...a very serious - that was a troubling thing to me.

SIEGEL: Well Senator Sessions, I want to thank you once again for talking with us. Always good to talk.

SESSIONS: It was good to be with you.

SIEGEL: Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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