WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has hurt the Bush administration and the Justice Department with his poor handling of the firing of eight federal prosecutors, a leading Republican said yesterday.
Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Gonzales was certainly undermining himself and his agency's law enforcement efforts.
"The attorney general's testimony was very, very damaging to his own credibility. It has been damaging to the administration," Specter said of Gonzales's appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee this past week. "No doubt, it is bad for the Department of Justice. It is harmful. There has been a very substantial decrease in morale."
Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Specter stopped short of adding his name to the growing ranks of lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican, calling on Gonzales to resign. He said he would leave the decision to the attorney general and the president.
Despite the criticism, Gonzales gave no indication yesterday that he might soon resign. Gonzales remains focused on guarding against terrorism and keeping communities safe, said Brian Roehrkasse, a spokesman for the department.
"He has acknowledged and apologized for the mistakes that were made during the handling of the recent resignations of the eight US attorneys," Roehrkasse said, "and he intends to continue to work closely with the Congress to reassure them that he is taking all appropriate steps to rectify this unfortunate situation."