MARY CLARE JALONICK Associated Press Writer W A S H I N G T O N
Democratic Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester praised the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Monday, saying it was the right decision for the country. "Under Mr. Gonzales' watch the Department of Justice was politicized to a level that we haven't seen since Watergate," Tester said. "I encourage the President to nominate someone who will restore leadership to the department and serve all Americans, not one political party or another." Baucus said Gonzales was "bogged down in controversy to a point where it affected his job." "It's hard to feel confident when Amer ica' s top law e n fo r c eme n t o f f i c i a l i s embroiled in controversy day in and day out," Baucus said. "I hope that President Bush nominates someone who can work together to do what's r i g h t fo r Montana and America." Gonzales has been under fire for months. Republicans and Democrats have demanded his resignation over the botched handling of FBI terror investigations and the firings of U.S. attorneys, which critics asserted were politically motivated. But President Bush had defiantly stood by his Texas friend until accepting his resignation last Friday. "It has been one of my greatest privileges to lead the Department o f Justice, " Go n z a l e s s a i d Mo n d ay, announcing his resignation effective Sept. 17. He took no questions and gave no reason for stepping down. Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg, Montana's only member of the U.S. House, did not comment on the resignation but wished "him and his family all the best." "Mr. Gonzales is a dedicated public servant whose distinguished career includes a lifetime of contributions to our nation," Rehberg said in a statement.