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. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Alberto Gonzales did for the Department of Justice what Joe Hazelwood did for inland waterway navigation skills!

    August 27, 2007 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Steve Meyer, Eatonton Ga.

    Chertoff??? What a joke.Bush has a hard time putting his shavel down and stop himself from digging the hole deeper.

    August 27, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  3. David Chattanooga, Tn

    Chertoff is not a good choice for Attorney General. He works for Isreal, not
    America. Look into it. He is a dual citizen , and no man may serve two masters in the opinion od Jesus Christ.
    Chertoff is of a minority religion deeeply opposed to Christianity and he is representing the interests of a Religious foreign power
    that has actively engaged in acts of war against the United States. Remember the
    U.S.S. Liberty! He certainly cannot represent the interests of any self respecting Southerner. I call for a filibuster if necessary!!!

    August 27, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  4. John Johnson, Honolulu, HI

    I think that the level of damage to the Dept of Justice that this Attorney General has brought is unprecedented. I always got the feeling he was working solely for the president and not the people. I no longer trust that things happen for the betterment of America, but moreso for the betterment of party.

    August 27, 2007 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  5. Dan, Boyden, IA

    From one that cant remember to one that still hasnt secured the country. What a wonderful government.

    August 27, 2007 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  6. Carol, Phoenix, az

    O my god after katrina? Please no!!

    August 27, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  7. Sally, San Francisco, California

    Oh, good grief! Chertoff?

    When did brain cells STOP working in Washington? No, forget that question. How about when will brain cells START working in Washington?

    August 27, 2007 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  8. Susan

    Appointing Chertoff would be replacing one idiot with another one.

    August 27, 2007 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. Che Oiguerva-Castronez Ponce, NM

    As a LEGAL Mexican American, I find it disgusting that one of our own is hoisted up to a high position in government, then declared "incompetent" and worse by Congress. What signal does this send? Are we to stop trying to pull ourselves up? This is ridiculous. Bush should at least have nominated another hispanic to prove "competence" does exist in the immigrant popluation.

    August 27, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Keith Hood, Austin, Texas

    Oh Christ, NOOOO!!! We don't need to replace a toady with a golem.

    August 27, 2007 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Joe, Nashville, TN

    Even the thought of nominating Chertoff is obscene. This is one more example of the Bush administration promoting incompetency: screw up Katrina and then go screw up the Justice Department. Bush and Cheney need to resign now, like Nixon.

    August 27, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  12. Dave, Evergreen CO

    "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."

    Could run in to problem? You think?

    August 27, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. J C White City, Kansas

    Chertoff, come on, we need an attorney general that enforces the law within the confines of the Cinstitution, not the Bush White House.

    August 27, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. Dave, Evergreen CO

    "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."

    Could run into problems? You think? Did the Daily Show make this pick?

    August 27, 2007 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  15. W. Heidecker

    Chertoff has made a grand mess of his tenure at the Dept of Homeland Security, so now he is a candidate to made a further mess of the Justice Dept. Are they kidding? His shoes are still wet from the New Orleans fiasco.

    August 27, 2007 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
  16. Luke Chicago, IL

    From Alberto "I can't recall" Gonzalez to Michael "I can't do **** right" Chertoff. Bush is a lighting rod for incompetence.

    August 27, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  17. Myron, Honolulu, Hi

    Bush needs a bigger pond to fish in although I guess the fall on your sword loyalists are hard to find

    August 27, 2007 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  18. Mango Jaurez-Elpaso Albuquerque NM

    This is an insult to Mexicans on both sides of the border – legal or not. Here is a Hispanic icon who pulled himself up, got an education, and got made AG of the US. NOW, he is declared "incompetent" and forced to resign in disgrace. What does that tell the rest of us? give up? America doesn't want us? Here was a job no one wanted to fill until one of us took it, and now look. Shame on you America

    August 27, 2007 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  19. Brian Houston, TX.

    Maybe Bush should look into the head of Laraza
    to be the new Attorney General.
    They already dictate law in the United States. Bush seems to listen to them more than americans.

    August 27, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  20. James Backus

    I have no legal experience, but I swear to uphold the laws of the people of the United States of America. Where do I apply? No more Bushnazi's please!!

    August 27, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  21. Alonzo Tongincheek Alburque NM

    Legal Mexican Americans will remember this Alamo until the next election. One of our own finally made it to the "top", only to be knocked down by Congress. This is no way to treat the nation's newest minority population. Bush should have at least nominated another Hispanic to take the helm if for no other reason than to give credibility to his White House.

    August 27, 2007 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. WDRussell, East Liverpool, Ohio

    The next AG should understand one thing. The day he/she takes their oath of office, they are working for the American people and not a political party.

    August 27, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  23. Betsy, Culpeper, Virginia

    Gonzales was the most incompetent attorney general in my life-time; perhaps ever. I guess it makes sense to nominate Chertoff; because he would be the second most incompetent attorney general in my life-time.

    August 27, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  24. Jason, Whittier, CA

    What about Patrick Fitzgerald or James Comey?

    August 27, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  25. Joe B, Wichita Falls TX

    Just another of Bush's "Rat Pack"!

    Well what did you expect from this rotten administration?

    August 27, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
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