Alberto Gonzales, who for months has been the focus of inquiries into the alleged politically-motivated firing of U.S. Attorneys, stepped down this week from his post as the nation’s top law enforcement official.

Like Karl Rove, who resigned just two weeks ago, Gonzales claims to be leaving government to spend more time with his family and to "start a new chapter." Many speculate, however, that his resignation was prompted by ongoing investigations, in which he has been — to put it charitably — less than forthcoming:

President Bush has publicly defended Gonzales, a longtime friend and member of his inner circle, saying that the AG’s "good name (has been) dragged through the mud for polical reasons."

But Congressional leadership on both sides of the aisle seemed to exhale a collective sigh upon hearing the news of Gonzales’ resignation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said "Alberto Gonzales was never the right man for this job," and said he lacked independence and judgment. Senator Arlen Spector (R-PA) called Gonzales’ resignation "a major helpful turn of events."

Reid insists that despite his resignation, Gonzales is not out of the hot seat yet, and will be a continuing focus of Congressional inquiry. Meanwhile, conflict and speculation is already brewing over his replacement. Once Gonzales officially steps down on September 17, Solicitor General Paul Clement will serve as the acting Attorney General until the Senate confirms a new nominee. Below are links to commentary on Gonzales’ tenure and discussion of possible successors.


Gonzales And the First Amendment: A Troubled Legacy

The Next AG?