August 27th, 2007
12:10 PM ET
4 years ago

Senior admin. officials: Chertoff may get nod

Chertoff may be nominated to succeed Gonzales.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Bush may nominate Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, senior administration officials told CNN Monday.

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.

From there, he moved to the District of New Jersey and was assistant U.S. attorney from 1987 to 1990 and U.S. attorney until 1994.

Between 1994 and 1996, Chertoff was counsel to the GOP Whitewater committee investigating the business dealings of President Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton, who is now New York's junior senator and a candidate for president of the United States.

An independent counsel later determined that the Whitewater investigation did not uncover sufficient evidence to warrant any criminal charges against the Clintons.

As a senator, Mrs. Clinton cast the only vote against Chertoff when he was nominated for the appeals court in 2003.

UPDATE: A Senate aide with close connections to the Department of Justice tells CNN's Dana Bash Chertoff will not be the president's choice to replace Gonzales.


Filed under: Alberto Gonzales • Michael Chertoff
soundoff (127 Responses)
  1. MRR, Lampasas Texas

    It's about time!

    August 27, 2007 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Mimi

    Ah yes! Another Constitution trasher.
    The Archangel of Big Brother our Attorney General. Boy! Who's going to line up for the first microchip implants. We need to impeach that lame duck President before Chertof gets put in, and sack every one in Congress. Time for us to put the Constitution in place where it belongs. In Washington, and into the lives of all Americans!

    August 27, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  3. Bukky, Baltimore, MD

    As long as some stupendously stupid people think refuse to recognize that this Bush Administration has decimated everything this country has been building since the first independence day, the smart people who oppose will still get screwed and the dumb will bend over and take it.

    August 27, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. C R White. Durham, NC

    Here comes another of the Bush administration's political pay off appointments. In this country's history no other administration, democrat or republican, has based cabinet appointments purely on politics without any concern that the appointtee have any working knowledge of the duties of the post.

    August 27, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  5. A foreigner in the U.S.

    DHS is a mess under Chertoff. USCIS lacks the operational efficiency and effectiveness to handle the cases that it adjudicates, resulting in year-long backlogs of cases, putting legitimate visitors to the U.S. in limbo where they cannot legally work or study, and allowing others to prolong their stay by filing frivolous petitions and applications. Some CBP border posts are letting in nonimmigrant aliens who do not have valid visas even though they are not visa-exempt based on their nationalities and not visa-exempt under the contiguous territory automatic visa extension regulations. The Dept. of Justice needs a new and real leader. Chertoff should be let go from the DHS, not promoted to AG so that he can further corrupt the DoJ and the Bush administration.

    August 27, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    GOOD NEWS, IF CHERTOFF LEAVES HOMELAND SECURITY...HE HAS BEEN ARROGANT AND UNRESPONSIVE TO NEEDS.

    BAD NEWS IF HE GOES ANYWHERE IN THE GOVERNMENT, ESPECIALLY ATTORNEY GENERAL...BETTER NYTHONG.

    August 27, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  7. JOEY

    GOOD NEWS, IF CHERTOFF LEAVES HOMELAND SECURITY...HE HAS BEEN ARROGANT AND UNRESPONSIVE TO NEEDS.

    BAD NEWS IF HE GOES ANYWHERE IN THE GOVERNMENT, ESPECIALLY ATTORNEY GENERAL...BETTER NYTHONG.

    August 27, 2007 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  8. Peter M., Colorado Springs, CO

    This man was a DISGRACE as Attorney General and is still a DISGRACE to the Latino community. He was nothing but a lying, scheming lapdog for Bush and a real threat to justice and the rule of law in America. Then again, he fit right in with the Bush administration.

    August 27, 2007 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  9. Debbie M., Saint Paul, MN

    I certainly hope that Chertoff does not get the nod. This man has done nothing to keep this nation safe, he has not protected our borders nor our ports. He has however, been very good at pandering to Mexico and to Illegal Aliens. Shame on GWB if he can't find a better man or woman to replace the equally inept Gonzo.

    August 27, 2007 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  10. Rich; East Valley Phx. AZ

    Gonzakes or Chertoff, both have questionable loyalities. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Condi Rice and several others all are apparently dedicated performers for the very rich and powerful as they literally appear to be bought and controlled by those they benefit and who return benefit. Do I have the incriminating tell-tale photograph of the envelope changing hands? Of course not but the obvious and compelling evidence in the results seen is really there for any objective viewer to see and reason from. In every position they take there is the heavily inequitable, often subtle, sometimes bold but always there, significant benefit for their sponsors and all too frequently accompanied by a great cost to the American people. This isn't conjecture; it is fact that can't be denied unless blinded by a bias which allows one to be manipulated.

    As for the return benefit provided, it is also obvious and not limited to just political contribution and support. We have seen it demonstrated in well financed, well organized groups that suddenly pop-up whenever the Bush administration needs help that is not to be with an apparent connection;: against John McCain (2000); against John Kerry (2004); against AARP (2006); against Cindy Sheehan (2006); and now Ari Fleischer against antiwar sentiments, as but a few examples. Then there is the pressure exerted against people and in the manipulation of the media recognized in the way criticisms are always dropped without answers/resolutions and we are then told the over used statement, 'it is time to move on'. It is also apparent in the attitude of the administration created by the confidence gained in this backing which goes beyond assured and unconcerned, beyond bold and belligerent to "in your face' cockiness and arrogance. And finally, I don't doubt there is a deffered compensation plan for after office to provide payment for services rendered – opportunities for positions, giving lectures, doing consulting, receiving insider information and the like.

    Who could these sponsors be? I suspect you could start with a 'think tank' like the Carlyle Group and then consider all of those who are obviously greatly benefiting – like Halliburton, the oil companies, the defense contractors, the drug companies, some connected consulting firms and so on. They all have the ability and the experience in working with government (as does people like Dick Cheney in reverse) to know the way. It is an interesting puzzle and the pieces fit together well.

    Now the next question is, are all of these people just going to go away 'into the night with the upcoming dawn' of a new election? That really isn't very likely and I am sure they are all doing everything within their substantial power to insure the continuation of their favorable circumstances. I'm sure everything is in place to promote, support, protect and back their next 'puppet', at whatever the cost – and anyone in the way better watch out (remember McCain, Kerry, AARP, Cindy Sheehan,,).

    Who will the next 'puppet' be? Fred Thompson already knows well how to follow a script; Rudy Giuliani also is very capable of subordinating himself; and all of the Republican candidates have shown strong support for the Bush administration. Could it even be a Democrat? I wouldn't doubt that these very influential people have plans to cover all eventualities and Hillary Clinton has even shown past suseptability but I doubt their current ties to the Democrats are that strong; likely there are some hurt feelings from the last six years.

    The real point in all of this is that America, the average American, can't take more of the same. This country can ill afford the continued neglect of the decaying infrastructure, the loss of jobs and taxes exported to other coutries, the focus on policies for profits for 'big money' creating a run-away deficit, the loss in real spending power for the middle-class, the costs in lives and tax payer dollars from the falsely justified and continually rationalized Iraq War, and on and on all of it constituting a private agenda being pursued for the benefit of Special Interests and a select few while the average American is given little more than apathy, subterfuge and the costs.

    These are my thoughts and I don't presume to tell anyone what to think. Rather I present this to stimulate and with the encouragement just to really think, to put all biases aside and to avoid being manipulated long enough to objectively see the facts and then to simply make your own conscientious decisions. Today there is a consistent and concerted effort to hide the truth and disguise the lies which creates the real need for the people to dilligently look behind the rhetoric. Then maybe America won't have to put up with 'more of the same'.

    August 27, 2007 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  11. JJ Montana, Boulder, CO

    If the Democrats have a failing, it's trying to be "fair." Certainly, if we're "fair," there's no reason to vote against Chertoff as AG, but, I submit, the real issue is that the next Attorney General will have to supervise a lot of investigations into what this administration has been up to. He or she absolutely needs to not have a conflict of interest in having been already part of the Bush Administration.

    Conservative, no problem, but, please, FOR THE CONSTITUTION, someone outside the Bush-Cheney circle.

    Patrick Fitzgerald, come on down!

    And, for God's sake, I hope they don't nominate al Maliki

    August 27, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. Clara Geno, Bouse, Arizona

    Chertoff would not be my choice, but he at least graduated from a real school, not Pat Roberts diploma mill.

    August 27, 2007 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. JenJen, Cincinnati, Ohio

    Why can't Bushies spell "p-r-o-s-e-c-u-t-e"? It's not "percecute" (love that one) or "presecution."

    You people are funny. And delusional.

    August 27, 2007 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  14. Michael

    He doesn't look like a well man. Does he have health issues?

    August 27, 2007 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  15. Roland, Grand Junction, CO

    Just amazing! The Right-Wingers still dedicate themselves to protecting this president, and insisting that the mess is not his fault,it's Bill Clinton's fault, or some other contrived thought. "Witch-hunt" indeed! People need to think beyond the whitewash and lies. How can you believe that this president has any interest in any American's well-being other than his and his cronies? Gonzales was used by his "friend" , and it did not work out too well for anyone, including the American public. He's gone, but Bush will find another lap dog to take his place, and real soon!

    August 27, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  16. ainsle, los angeles, ca

    TO Jan fr. Wood Dale:

    I assume you work for an airline because you made a statement that –

    "airline employees are only ramdomly checked at security"

    Are you referring to outside contractors working @ the airport? Because I can tell you as as airline employee myself at one of the most heavily secure airports that airline employees have a separate queue for security and that each employee is "checked", sometimes patted down. Anything in our possession is screened. It is almost exactly the same equipment used for the travelling public, including bag screening, walk-through screen, the puff of air and manual checks .

    August 27, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. Sarah, Baltimore, MD

    Read an interesting, NON-PARTISAN take on a possible Chertoff appointment. YEAH, He's a BUSH CRONIE, but well-versed in the law... Read this blog post...
    http://myragmag.com/2007/08/27/gonzales-resigns/

    August 27, 2007 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  18. Barbara R. Doyle Cape Coral. FL

    Hey!angellou – get your facts straight. Bush was NOT elected twice.He was APPOINTED once and elected once.

    August 27, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  19. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    I have no idea how Angellou can make the ridiculous statement "There has been no lying under oath". Apparently Angellou has watched too much Fox News and wasn't paying attention when Scooter Libby went to trial and was convicted by a jury of two counts of perjury, one count of obstruction of justice in a grand jury investigation, and one count of making false statements to federal investigators. As far as President Bush telling the truth, he said "I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about (Osama bin Laden)" and then lied and denied it. He kept saying that Rumfeld would stay and admitted he lied. He also said many times that we would "stay the course" in Iraq and then said "we never were stay the course". And you think the Democrats have to make up lies about Bush? Get real.

    August 27, 2007 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  20. Kathrine Savoie

    Will Mr. Chertoff take full responsibility of his new office as he did with his present job during the Hurricane Katrina & Hurricane Rita nightmares? If so I don't know if our nation can suffer through such dedication to a job. Where is Colin Powell when we need him!!!!!

    August 27, 2007 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. John MacDaniel, Huntsville AL

    How in the name of responsible reactions, can anyone think of Michael Chertoff as being able to run the Department of Justice, when the Department of Homeland Security, and its multilayered labyrinth of compacted beaurocracy, is not functioning with any indication that the current head of the department has the ability to manage.

    August 27, 2007 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  22. jms, Dyer, Tn

    Can we not get someone who is not connected to all the coruption in Washington?

    August 27, 2007 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  23. JC, Colorado Springs, Colorado

    God help us all.

    August 27, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  24. Gary, Grosse Pointe, Mich.

    Why did CNN censor me? All I did was suggest Ann Coulter for the job. After all, she is America's sweetheart. Isn't she? And a loyal little Shrubbie as well.

    August 28, 2007 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  25. David, Salinas, CA

    Certainly it was long past time for Alberto Gonzalez to resign. Whether you buy his version of the U.S. Attorney firings and the warrantless wiretaps or not, his testimony before Congress was indicative of either duplicity or severe brain damage, either of which should disqualify a member of the Justice Department.

    I think Michael Chertoff is basically an honest guy and totally qualified, but his nomination to replace Gonzalez as AG is highly problematic for several reasons:

    1) This administration needs new blood. To keep rotating the same few cronies looks incestuous and limited. Gonzalez kept his job as long as he did because he was part of the so-called Texas Posse, President Bush’s small circle of friends from down home. The President needs to cast a wider net and show that he wants a quality cabinet, not just a familiar one.

    2) Politics vs Policy. There has never been a White House (not even Nixon’s) with less understanding of the importance of separating political victory from policy decisions. Whether it’s Karl Rove making legislative calls or the Gonzalez firing Democratic U.S. Attorneys, the Bush administration has blurred a line that should be clear. Chertoff was part of the failed Whitewater investigation, worked with Rudy Giuliani, and was a major fund-raiser for President Bush and the Republican party. The Justice Department isn’t supposed to be a political arm of the White House. There are many highly qualified Attorneys without the political baggage that Chertoff carries.

    3) Two confirmation hearings are worse than one. If President Bush nominates Chertoff, he’ll have to replace him, too By choosing someone from outside the current circle, the President can save his administration at least one hearing full of dirty laundry.

    4) Katrina, Katrina, Katrina. Chertoff was the guy in charge of the pathetic disaster response, and he tried to pass the buck when faced with the aftermath. Despite an existing FEMA report which identified the exact scenario as one of the three most likely disasters to strike the U.S., Chertoff said, “That 'perfect storm' of a combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners, and maybe anybody's foresight." Whether you buy that or not, coverage of a Chertoff confirmation hearing is going to feature lots of footage of those poor New Orleans folks stranded on rooftops and the President saying “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.” I doubt if that’s what the Republicans want on tv screens in an election year.

    Strategically, I think the President should leave Chertoff where he is, and replace Gonzalez with a moderate highly-respected Republican ex-member of Congress. That way he can stumble through his final lame-duck year in peace. But then, the only thing I’m absolutely sure of is that the President doesn’t care what I think.

    August 28, 2007 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
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