Alberto Gonzales (AP)
By Todd Beamon | Saturday, 11 Mar 2017 09:09 PM
Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said Saturday that an appointed federal employee's refusal to step down after being asked to do so by the president of the United States was "really, truly arrogant."
"It is really, truly arrogant for any appointed employee to refuse to leave when told by the president that that person's services are no longer required," Gonzales, who served under former President George W. Bush, told Ana Cabrera on CNN.
"In reality, the president of the United States has virtually unlimited power with respect to hiring and firing of the U.S. attorneys," he said, referring to President Donald Trump's firing of Preet Bharara as U.S. attorney in New York.
"They serve at his pleasure.
"If Donald Trump no longer has any pleasure of the continued service of Preet, then Preet is out."
Gonzales, who was appointed in 2005, resigned two years later amid several controversies, including the removal of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 that critics claimed had been done to bring aboard those more favorable to Republicans.
He was cleared after a federal investigation surrounding the dismissals into whether he had made misleading statements to Congress about the National Security Agency's surveillance programs.
The inquiry had been called for by New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer. Bharara was Schumer's chief counsel and staff director at the time.
"It is somewhat ironic that Preet did have a role serving Sen. Schumer in politicizing the removal of those U.S. attorneys when I was attorney general," Gonzales told Cabrera.
"Obviously those were all investigated. I was cleared of any wrongdoing."