August 27th, 2007
03:52 PM ET
12 years ago

Gonzales replacement speculation in full force

Chertoff's name was quickly mentioned as a possible replacement to Gonzales.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - As often happens with high level administration resignations, it wasn’t too long after news broke of the departure of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before speculation over his replacement reached a feverish pitch.

Senior administration officials were quick to tell CNN's Suzanne Malveaux that Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff would likely get the nod.

Chertoff, 53, previously sat on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles appeals from New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands. Before becoming a judge, he was assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice's criminal division from 2001 to 2003.

Chertoff received his law degree from Harvard University and was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William H. Brennan Jr. in 1979 and 1980. He first stepped into a prosecutorial role as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1983 to 1987.

But while some senior administration officials are strongly floating Chertoff as a candidate, others are waiving CNN off, saying that because of his role during Hurricane Katrina, the nomination could run into problems.

Chertoff has taken heat from both Democrats and Republicans for the government's slow response in providing relief to victims of the 2005 storm.

Meanwhile, a congressional source familiar with deliberations about Gonzales' replacement tells CNN's Dana Bash the impression is that it will not be Chertoff and that the administration is "playing you guys,"referring to the media.

Furthermore, a source close to Chertoff told CNN's Kelli Arena that the Homeland Security chief isn’t aware if he is being considered for the top Justice post.

"This would be a surprise to Mike," the source said.

Regarding the search itself, a senior administration official tells CNN's Jessica Yellin that White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten has been working overtime looking for a so-called “establishment type” to replace Gonzales.

Another name being floated is Larry Thompson, the former deputy Attorney General until 2003, and now a general counsel at PepsiCo Corporation.

Thompson has been spotted at the Justice Department in the last couple of weeks, according to another congressional source with close connections to the DOJ.

CNN’s John King, however, reports that, according to senior administration officials, when Larry Thompson has been approached in the past to return to the government, he has turned down offers, saying he is content in the private sector.

A spokesperson for PepsiCo tells CNN that Thompson has not indicated he is interested in leaving the company. "He's doing a great job here at PepsiCo," the spokesperson said. "He is very happy in his role here."

Other names mentioned as a possibility are Ted Olsen, the former United States Solicitor General, and George Terwilliger, a former deputy Attorney General.

- CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney


Filed under: Alberto Gonzales
soundoff (82 Responses)
  1. Joe, Nashville, TN

    The thought of Chertoff (boss of "good job Brownie" is obscene. Another example of promoting losers into a bigger job. He messed up Katrina, now he can blow up Justice.
    Bush/Cheney: resign NOW, like Nixon did.

    August 27, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. donald rumsfeld washington dc

    I just heard xFEMA big macher Michael "heck of a job Brownie" Brown is in line for the AG job. He's tan, he's rested, he's ready.

    August 27, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. Bob, Oakland, CA

    Nominees should never, ever be based on a need for a certain race. If you believe they should be then you have serious problems. Nominees should be chosen purely on who is the best fit for the job.

    Chertoff is the wrong guy for the job, he has done a poor job at securing our borders and fixing major problems with Homeland Security. In fact he should be offering his resignation due to his piss poor job.

    August 27, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  4. Patricia Gracian, San Diego, CA

    We need Chertoff like we need a shot in the head.
    Is Cheney around with his shot gun?

    How about a REAL patriotic American for a change?

    This guy has dual citizenship with Israel.
    Which master is he going to serve?

    It oughta be against the law!

    Senate- for ONCE do your job!
    Stop any and all Bush Yes-Men from getting in!

    August 27, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. Joe Severton, Nashville, TN

    The thought of Chertoff ("good job Brownie") is obscene. He messed up Katrina, now he can blow up Justice.
    Bush/Cheney: RESIGN NOW.
    At least Nixon had some thought for America.

    August 27, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. RB, Cape Cod, Mass

    My God, will someone give this poor man a meal?

    He looks like he's just wandered out of the forest after being lost for two month.

    August 27, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  7. A Former Republican, Anywhere, AZ, USA

    Why not just name the Katrina FEMA "Heckuva Job Horseman?"

    Congress,...Please "Just Say No" to Michael "Skeletor" Chertoff!

    The American public needs to grab some plastic sheeting and duct tape...the crap from this Administration is just starting to fly....

    August 27, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. C,MURPHY MANASSAS, VA

    ANOTHER LOOSER! LOOK WHAT HE DID/DID NOT DO FOR HOMELAND SECURITY AND PROTECTION OF OUR BORDERS WITH MEXICO. DID NOT HAVE ANY INTENTION OF ENFORCING IMMIGRATION LAW AS HEAD OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND DO YOU THINK HE WILL CHANGE AS THE ATTORNEY GENERAL? THINK NOT

    August 27, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. jondoe

    CHERTOFF?!? Is the bar for office set SO LOW in this country? I suggest Michael Vick. I'm sure he knows how to take a bite out of crime. When bush and the rest of his administration is sent to jail, Vick could even be available for meetings, like when they get together and pretend they are still infallibly in power.
    Ah, I can dream...

    August 27, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  10. Marie Live Oak Florida

    CAN YOU IMAGINE the moron who would replace the political lightning rod, Alberto Gonzalez, with the HURRICANE disaster nitwit, Michael Chertoff???
    This guy, Bush, is RETARDED.

    August 27, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. Joel, Detroit MI

    David,

    Are you completely insane? Although I agree that Chertoff is another bad choice, your rampant speculation and anti-semitism has nothing to do with this. Try to take your foot out of your mouth before speaking.

    And by the way, keep your prejudice to yourself and I won't have to comment on the South.

    August 27, 2007 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  12. ECDougherty Baton Rouge Louisiana

    I am a Katrina refuge. This man gets a zero – a zero a zero. He never recognnized his defective leadership – he never apologized for the horrendous inaction of his department. He is a fish out of water in big government. He amy have had great credentials to clerk for brilliant men but he has demonstrated a learning curve that seems to be flat. The Justice Department needs more in the line of a "Gates" mentality and sensitivity and political saavy – someone who says mistakes have been made and I am here to mend the wounds – you'll never hear that from this man. He doesn't see the problem to apoligize for it or worse believes he is above the fray. Either way he is a disaster where he is and would be too brutal for words through the confirmation process, forbid that he would ever get confirmed.

    August 27, 2007 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  13. Ron Hale Bunker Hill West Virginia

    This entire administration has been a joke from day one. Their continual attack on the constituion is shameful!It wil take at least 20 years to right all of the wrongs brought on by Rove and his lackeys!

    August 27, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  14. JVJ Broomfield, CO

    Certainly there are better choices than Chertoff who had hardly distingquished himself in his current position.

    How about a career lawyer at Justice?

    August 27, 2007 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  15. Bukky, Baltimore, MD

    David Chattanooga, Tn

    You are a raging lunatic. There are a Million other reasons to oppose the guy w/o sinking to the depths of Anti-Semitic rants.

    Alonzo Tongincheek Alburque

    Don't be ridiculous, if anything you should be ashamed of Gonzales. He all he did was become a lying crony from the moment of his appointment. You should be upset b/c Bush used him and made him look like a complete idiot.

    and Bush appointing another Hispanic will not win him back ANY credibility. That moment is long gone.

    August 27, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. Jon Davis Jr.

    I don't know a lot about Gonzales, but I do know that if the Left Wing in Congress hates him so much, he must have been doing something right. I would guess that he is probably a quality man of good character.

    Isn't it sad that we can judge a man as likely to be good based on the people opposed to him?

    ThirstyJon

    August 27, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Dan St Louis, MO

    One criminal assclown goes out and another criminal assclown comes in. Same old crime family, different stooge.

    August 27, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. Ryan, New York, NY

    Alonzo Tongincheek Alburque NM,
    I'm all in favor of another Hispanic American being nominated, so long as he or she isn't as corrupt as the last Hispanic American to hold the office.

    Stop taking his resignation as an attack on your ethnic background and for what it is, the removal of a high ranking official who damaged his country. It's too bad that the first Hispanic American to "make it to the top" wasn't a good example of what legal Hispanic Americans can offer this country.

    August 27, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  19. Harriett Loesch, Merritt Island, FL

    This is a long overdue resignation. In spite of his denials, the record shows that he was a right-wing idealogue whose loyalty was to Bush and not the nation.

    August 27, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. Poggy Onovich, Sunnyvale, CA

    Another game of musical chairs for Bush cronies. Chertoff is a disgrace to this country for rampant mismanagement.

    Congress shouldn't interview any of Bush's nominees until Bush complies with the law and responds to the subpoenas and cooperates with investigations into his criminal operation.

    August 27, 2007 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  21. Dave, Madison,WI

    Dems should refuse to confirm any nomination until the White House agrees to the testimony and records that have been requested relating to the U.S. Attorney matter.

    August 27, 2007 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  22. HAWK,TEXAS

    CONGRESS WILL NEVER APPROVE HIM, HE HAS TOO MUCH BAGGAGE.

    August 27, 2007 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  23. Lou , Tulsa, OK

    It's about time Gonzales is gone. Chertoff will not be an able replacement.
    Washington D.C. should be renamed, Denial D.C.

    August 27, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  24. Stacy,Port Saint Lucie, Florida

    Are they finally running out of puppets? Do the shuffle.

    August 27, 2007 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  25. Pat McDonough, Los Angeles, CA

    Michael Chertoff??? Even if one were to set aside the fiasco of “Katrina”, (and no one should) The Dept. of Homeland Security is surrealistically dysfunctional and an unmitigated disaster. Our borders are infinitely less secure since the inception of “Homeland Security”.
    Whatever the faults and shortcomings of the agencies that were mashed into this ill-conceived and horribly run Department (and there were many) pale in comparison to what we have with it.
    At the borders, all officer expertise has been diluted to nothing, on site authority for enforcement has been crushed and no dissent, criticism, or input is permitted to flow upstream. Morale and job satisfaction are subterranean. CBP inspectors leave faster than they can be trained (at huge tax payer expense) and those that stay, are just trying to duck under the radar long enough to get out on their retirement.
    The reality is that Homeland Security Theater would make a Salvador Dali nightmare appear blissfully pastoral.

    August 27, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
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