Ashcroft, Evans resign from Cabinet
Attorney general declares victory over crime, terror
MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 6:00 p.m. ET Nov. 9, 2004
WASHINGTON - President Bush has accepted the resignations of Attorney General John Ashcroft and Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Tuesday.
“The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved,” Ashcroft wrote in a five-page handwritten letter to Bush.
Justice Department sources have said privately for weeks that Ashcroft, 62, who has been a lightning rod for criticism by Democrats and civil liberties activists, was not likely to continue in a second term.
Aides described him as “exhausted” from leading the Justice Department in fighting the domestic war on terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Stress was a factor in health problems earlier this year that resulted in removal of Ashcroft’s gallbladder.
Ashcroft’s former deputy, Larry Thompson, is considered a likely successor, Republican officials have said.
Evans, a longtime friend and confidant of the president, may be leaving for different reasons. Administration officials have said it was possible that he would be in line to succeed John Snow as Treasury secretary should Snow leave.
A name often mentioned for Evans’ job at the Commerce Department that of is Mercer Reynolds, national finance chairman for the Bush campaign, who raised more than $260 million to get him re-elected.
The moves came a day after Bush returned to Washington from the presidential retreat at Camp David, Md., where he spend the weekend discussing potential Cabinet changes.
Secretary of State Colin Powell and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, two leading administration faces in the Iraq war, have also been mentioned as likely to leave.