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. bryan beard opelousas,la.

    another one bites the dust!you can only lie so much before havic reeks upon you.and now he will be replaced by the head of homeland sercurity?the guy who let people die in the streets of new orleans?wake up america!!!!

    August 27, 2007 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  2. mike schipper, deerfield beach, fl

    An idiot replacing an idiot

    August 27, 2007 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  3. Lance, Monrovia, CA.

    Why would they put Jafar, the villian from Aladdin, in charge of the Justice Dept?

    Do you think he could rub his magic lamp and make all of George Bush's crimes disappear?

    Not likely Jafar, but keep on conjuring the hurricane dude. There's still plenty of time for both your genie like butt and Bush to reap the whirlwind baby... Katrina style.

    August 27, 2007 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  4. Bob, Boston MA

    To David from TN below: Be thankful that having a brain is not requirement for US citizenship. Your comments are anti-Semitic (you can look up what it means), anti-American, and just plain ignorant. Judaism isn't opposed to Christianity although I daresay that even the most charitable of Christians would think you, sir, have no hope for redemption. But, hey, if you're looking to convert please don't join my synagogue; we like nice people.

    August 27, 2007 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  5. Tom, Charlottesville, VA

    One incompetent resigns, Bush puts another one in. He's got like five friends, and he just rotates them around the government. Pathetic. At least there's only a year and a half left of this guy.

    August 27, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  6. Annonyous from Arizona

    From bad to worse. So much for the Cheney/Bush cabinet. It just gets worse. Gonzales move to Mexico where lying and cheating is their culture. A disgrace to the Mexican people who have come here legally wanting to do go for themselves.

    August 27, 2007 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  7. Margaret Hieke San Antonio, Tx

    Rove,Gonzales who else will be jumping ship?.... Dick Cheney?

    August 27, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. Ted McMillan, Miami, Florida

    After wasting much time spitting on interrogations, asking Gonzalez the simplest of questions as he constantly evaded in view of the entire globe, it stands for reason there is a propaganda team constantly dogging good Americans to tell them they can't assume anything about Gonzalez that relates to corruption or treason.

    We watch the judge shows on TV all the time and know what would happen if the judge asks direct questions and doesn't get direct replies. Now in a new age where the Bush administration claims it can assume anything about any American of the multiplied millions of them, and make them become detainees on a whim as written on paper, a propaganda team tells us we can't assume anything about one man or one team who now rules this country under controversy.

    If any of us can become a detainee on Bush's whim, if we evade questions during interrogations like Gonzalez did, would we be released and assumed to have good names with no thought of wrongdoing? Can we then be released and assume the benefits Gonzalez received as he spat upon the interrogation process before the entire world, having no kind of shame?

    This is what follows after even telling us about a method for extracting information that can save lives called TORTURE, and forgetting to use that technique upon the declared number one man in terror: Saddam Hussein.

    Before he died, he was given privileges denied all Americans on paper under the Patriot Act. Bush did not even use this method of information extraction to force Saddam to reveal where he stashed his proverbial WMDs. Saddam was given privileges high above all Americans and received public and open due process!

    August 27, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  9. Alan Missoula, Montana

    If the Bush administration is smart (don't laugh) it will pick a quiet establishment type. The new AG will be a caretaker. His term will last less than 18 months before a new administration takes office in January of 09. Thus the position is best for someone who will quietly run things without having an agenda of his own.

    August 27, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  10. Todd, Chicago Illinois

    One idiot resigns, so we replace him with another idiot!! he couldn't even handle a hurricane, but lets put him in charge of the justice department??yup, sounds like something bush would do!!

    August 27, 2007 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  11. Bob, Oakland, CA

    Alonzo the Bush Administration already has more credibility then any Democratic administration purely based on his appointment of minorities as well as females to positions of power.

    Since when is race or sex an indicator of ability or right to be nominated to any position of power? People should be nominated based on their abilities not the color of their skin.

    That being said, nominating Chertoff to replace Gonzales would be a huge mistake. Chertoff should be considering resigning due to his own incompetence at running the Dept of Homeland Security. Unfortunately the only way that will probably happen is if we are attacked by terrorist and his incompetence is highlighted like it should be.

    August 27, 2007 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  12. John Chamberlain Sturgis, SD

    Another political re-tread....need I say more.

    August 27, 2007 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  13. Paul Lacques

    Tweedledum clearly wasn't up to the standards of the job. Let's get Tweedledee in there to clean things up.

    August 27, 2007 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  14. David, Salinas, CA

    I’m no fan of Michael Chertoff, but David of Chattanooga, TN is wrong to say he has dual citizenship. Chertoff is an American citizen, born in Elizabeth new Jersey.

    August 27, 2007 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  15. Alberto Gonzales Jr.

    Another guy who isn't any good. Great.

    August 27, 2007 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  16. L. Russell

    Read Kurt Nimmo's article, "War Tax: $320 Per American Citizen", then you will understand.

    August 27, 2007 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  17. Jared, Milwaukee, WI

    Don't worry people. Chertoff is an loudmouth moron that lets his "gut" tell us when to worry about terrorism. Just like Bush and his shady buddies did with appointing the seemingly calm Robert Gates, they'll get someone that will be more softspoken and looks like an honest guy. Chertoff is a scary guy that is not to be trusted. Even someone like Bush wouldn't appoint him to the top cop. Keep hope alive.

    August 27, 2007 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  18. Andrew, Dallas, TX

    If Chertoff becomes Attorney General, would that mean that we would get a Secretary of Homeland Security who will secure the border?

    August 27, 2007 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  19. Eric

    It really doesn't matter who Bush picks, because it is all temporary and meaningless. This awful, destructive, vile Republican rule will come to an end with the election in November 2008, and the country can then finally start rebuilding itself and regaining confidence.

    August 27, 2007 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  20. P. Williams Raleigh, NC

    Oh, No! That's all we need is Michael Chertoff as Attorney General! What will the Bush do next? Appoint Mike (Brownie you're goin'a heck of a job")Brown as Sec. of Homeland Security?

    The citizens of the great country had better begin raising holy hell with their elected officials in order to get our country back from the most corrupt administration this country has ever seen. Bush and his side kicks have completely ignored the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    We are the laughing stock of the whole world!

    August 27, 2007 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  21. Judy K, San Antonio, Tx

    Hasta la vista & good riddance to another one of Bush's down-home Buddies. And speaking of Disasterous AGs. Wonder where Clinton's Other "Girl", AG Janet Reno is these days...Remember Waco & Elian Gonzales... She should have been in jail.

    August 27, 2007 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  22. Judy K, San Antonio,Tx

    What a swell Bush idea..substitute one PC Weenie with another one..a la Certoff. That Guy who "works for Israel" according to some Poster here..LOL. That's why Certoff ticked off so many people with his incidents of PC Muslim pandering, including forced Muslim Education classes for all TSA and Fed gov workers, plus kow-towing to CAIR by giving them an unnecrssary guided tour of behind-the-scenes airline security procedures. Don't we feel safer, now.

    August 27, 2007 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  23. jinn, Dallas, Tx

    I think they should put Chertoff in as Atty General. I want to get this New World Order show on down the road,,,see what it looks like in its finality. Dont you? Be adventurous for once...

    August 27, 2007 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  24. Dave Knight

    You got to be kidding! This man made a mess with FEMA. Enough said.

    August 27, 2007 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  25. Jeff, Schaumburg, IL

    Skeletor Chertoff as AG?! I guess it really doesn't matter. Chief Law Enforcement Officer of an administration which despises the Constitution, the Supreme Law of the Land. The position is a joke as is the "man" himself.

    And I don't particularly care for having a dual-citizen of ANY nation represent any high office in our government, I think I'd feel safer with him being Head Torture-Enabler / Constitution Trasher than head of the department charged with protecting the nation from foreign terrorists.

    August 27, 2007 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
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