In an exclusive interview with "Good Morning America" today, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination, for the first time called for the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.
"The buck should stop somewhere," Clinton told ABC News senior political correspondent Jake Tapper, "and the attorney general -- who still seems to confuse his prior role as the president's personal attorney with his duty to the system of justice and to the entire country -- should resign.
"I'm deeply disturbed by what we have learned thus far," Clinton said, "and I join those who are calling for a full and thorough investigation to try to get to the bottom of these very political decisions that interfere with prosecutorial responsibility by U.S. attorneys, and I think that the attorney general should resign."
Clinton said the evidence so far pointed to "direct interference with the way U.S. attorneys are supposed to operate -- to be impartial. There's evidence of political interference and political pressure being put on them to engage in partisan political activities." Clinton added there were "so many examples of an abuse of power, of going in and removing people not on the basis of performance but, in fact, because they were performing well, they were fulfilling their responsibilities as a U.S. attorney, and that wasn't within the political agenda of the administration."
When Clinton's husband took office in 1993, one of the first actions his attorney general took was to remove every U.S. attorney. Clinton was asked how this was different from the termination of eight U.S. attorneys last December.
"There is a great difference," Clinton said. "When a new president comes in, a new president gets to clean house. It's not done on a case-by-case basis where you didn't do what some senator or member of Congress told you to do in terms of investigations into your opponents. It is 'Let's start afresh' and every president has done that."
When asked what she'd like to see from President Bush and White House aide Karl Rove, Clinton said, "The president needs to be very forthcoming -- what did he say, what did he know, what did he do? And Karl Rove is clearly in the middle of this from all the evidence we have seen so far, and I think he owes the Congress and the country an explanation."