Mounting Pressure: Fifth GOP Senator Calls For Gonzales to Resign; Dems Call For No-Confidence Vote

Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., says attorney general mired in controversy must go.

ByABC News
May 17, 2007, 4:39 PM

May 17, 2007 — -- As Senate Democrats announced plans to call for a no-confidence vote on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., became the fifth Republican senator to call for the embattled attorney general's resignation Thursday.

"I don't have confidence in Gonzales," Coleman said in a conference call with Minnesota media. "I would hope that the attorney general understands that the department is suffering right now, and he does the right thing, and that is allows the president to provide new leadership."

Coleman joins Sens. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., John Sununu, R-N.H., Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and John McCain, R-Ariz., in breaking from GOP ranks to call for the attorney general's ouster. There may be a political dimension to this boldness. Coleman and Sununu are up for re-election next year in Democratic-leaning states, while McCain is running for president and Hagel is weighing a bid for the White House.

Other Republicans including Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa., have suggested that Gonzales might want to consider stepping down without directly calling for him to do so.

Earlier this week Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., said, "When you have to spend more time up here on Capitol Hill instead of running the Justice Department, maybe you ought to think about it."

Senate Democrats ensured the idea would remain in the public sphere for at least the next week, when Sens. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., plan to introduce a resolution expressing the state of the Senate having no confidence in the attorney general.

"It seems the only person who has confidence in the attorney general is President Bush," Schumer said Thursday. "The president long ago should have asked the attorney general to step down."

Thursday's news follows gripping testimony from Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who on Tuesday told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Gonzales and then-White House chief of staff Andrew Card go to Ashcroft's sick bed at a hospital to seek his approval to certify the legality of the controversial NSA warrantless wiretapping program, after Comey, acting attorney general at the time, had refused to do so.