President Bush said Monday that the Congressional testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales last week, roundly panned by members of both parties, had “increased my confidence in his ability to do the job,” reports the New York Times. Bush said of Gonzales's performance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, “The attorney general went up and gave a very candid assessment, and answered every question he could possibly answer, honestly answer.”
Bush has repeatedly asserted his confidence in Gonzales, a longtime adviser, as criticism has mounted over the dismissals of eight United States attorneys. But his statement on Monday was his first direct comment about Gonzales since the attorney general appeared before the committee, and it was at considerable odds with an overwhelmingly critical assessment of his testimony by members of both parties. It indicated Bush, at least for now, has concluded his attorney general can weather the challenge to his leadership at the Justice Department, barring any evidence of wrongdoing.