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Bush renews backing for Gonzales

Bush Honor and Integrity
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the U.S. Capitol in Washington Thursday, April 19, 2007 about the controversial dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys.Susan Walsh / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

President Bush gave embattled Attorney General Alberto Gonzales a strong vote of confidence on Monday despite scant support for him among key Republicans.

"This is an honest, honorable man, in whom I have confidence," Bush said.

The president said that Gonzales' testimony before skeptical Judiciary Committee senators last week "increased my confidence" in his ability to lead the Justice Department. Separately, a White House spokeswoman said, "He's staying."

Gonzales has been under fire for what the White House acknowledges was his poor handling of the firing of eight federal prosecutors. The attorney general appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday and said dozens of times that he could not recall certain events about the dismissals.

Bush said that while some senators did not like the way Gonzales answered the questions, he continues to back his attorney general.

"As the hearings went forward, it was clear the attorney general broke no law, there's no wrongdoing," Bush said.

However, key GOP lawmakers continued to raise doubts about Gonzales.

Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the committee, said Gonzales was certainly undermining himself and his agency's law enforcement efforts.

"The attorney general's testimony was very, very damaging to his own credibility. It has been damaging to the administration," Specter said of Gonzales' appearance. "No doubt, it is bad for the Department of Justice. It is harmful. There has been a very substantial decrease in morale."