With Hillary Clinton joining fellow Democrats in calling for the resignation of Bush Administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, it is worth reminding ourselves how fervent Republicans were in the summer of 1998 about firing Bill Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno.
The Republicans were upset over Reno’s handling of alleged fund-raising improprieties by the Clinton Administration. The Republican-controlled Congress ultimately went so far as to hold Reno in contempt.
As reported in The Washington Post: “A House committee voted yesterday to hold Attorney General Janet Reno in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over Justice Department memos subpoenaed in a dispute over her failure to appoint an independent counsel to investigate 1996 campaign fund-raising abuses. It was the first time a full House committee had ever voted to hold an attorney general in contempt. All 24 Republicans on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee voted for the resolution. Eighteen Democrats and independent Bernard Sanders (Vt.) voted no.”
In an earlier story the Post reported that none other than “ethics guru” Newt Gingrich compared Reno to convicted Nixon AG John Mitchell: “House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) branded Reno’s decision as “something you might have expected from [then-Attorney General] John Mitchell in 1973.” His comparison to Mitchell, who served 19 months in prison after he was convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy for his role in the Watergate scandal, prompted a sharp response by President Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.). ”
Although Republicans will in tropistic fashion condemn Democratic calls for Gonzales to resign, they should remember their own recent partisan history.