At today’s Mexico press conference, President Bush further carried Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ messages from yesterday, in blunt fashion:
[Gonzales was] right. Mistakes were made. And I’m, frankly, not happy about it, because there is a lot of confusion over what really has been a customary practice by the Presidents.
U.S. attorneys and others serve at the pleasure of the President. Past administrations have removed U.S. attorneys; they’re right to do so.
The Justice Department recommended a list of U.S. attorneys. I believe the reasons why were entirely appropriate. And yet this issue was mishandled to the point now where you’re asking me questions about it in Mexico…
In other words, the mistake wasn’t that prosecutors were purged for partisan reasons. The mistake was that the purge wasn’t better defended, so fewer journalists would ask questions.
Bush can’t make it any clearer: this is proud conservative government in action. Hacks over pros. Partisan agendas over the law. Political payback over the public interest.