Obama '07: AG's Job Is to Tell WH 'Here are the Limits of Your Power'

May 24, 2013 - 12:25 PM

In 2007, then Senator Barack Obama appeared on CNN's Larry King Live and called on U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to resign. Obama said Gonzales was acting more like the president's attorney than the people's attorney and viewed himself as an "enabler of the administration."

"Well, I voted against Alberto Gonzales confirmation for precisely the reason we are seeing now. I said this on the floor of the senate, that although he seemed to be a capable attorney, he seemed to conceive his role as being the president's attorney instead of being the people's attorney," Obama said.

The attorney general's job is to set boundaries for the president, not to carry out his "political vendettas":

"Part of the role of the attorney general is to say to the executive branch, 'Here are the limits of your power,' 'Here are the things that you can't do.' I don't think Alberto Gonzales ever told the president that there was something he could not do.

"So, as a consequence, when the White House decides a U.S. attorney is not carrying out the political vendettas of the White House, then there are some questions over whether Gonzales was urged to fire these individuals. You've got a situation in terms of the FBI where the procedures used for issuing national security letters seemed to have been completely sloppy and based on erroneous fact. There doesn't seem to be any oversight there."

Obama goes on to say Gonzales viewed himself more as an "enabler of the administration" than someone who cared about the American people - and called for him to resign:

"What you get a sense of is an attorney general who saw himself as an enabler of the administration as opposed to somebody who was actually trying to look out for the American people's interest, and for that reason I think it's time for him to step down and for another attorney general, who can exercise some independence, to be put for the remainder of this president's term."

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