Embattled U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has announced his resignation.
In a brief appearance before reporters today, Gonzales thanked President Bush for his friendship and for giving him the opportunity to serve the American people.
Speaking in Texas, President Bush said he reluctantly accepted Gonzales's resignation. He called Gonzales a man of integrity, decency and principle. The president said Gonzales's good name was "dragged through the mud" (tarnished) for political reasons.
The attorney general's resignation takes effect September 17th. He did not give a reason for stepping down.
Gonzales has been under fire from opposition Democrats and some Republicans over several issues, especially the dismissals last year of eight federal prosecutors.
Many lawmakers believe the firings were politically motivated, and repeatedly called on Gonzales to resign.
President Bush named U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement as acting attorney general.
Gonzales was the nation's first Hispanic attorney general. He also served as White House Counsel from 2001 to 2005.
New York Senator Charles Schumer today said Democrats are asking for a replacement who will put the rule of law first and politics at the bottom of the list.
Civil liberties groups have criticized Gonzales for his support of an anti-terror domestic spying program. They have also questioned his role, while serving in the White House, in forming U.S. policy on the treatment of terrorism suspects.
Gonzales is the third high-ranking Bush administration official to resign since last year. Earlier this month, top Bush advisor Karl Rove announced he was stepping down. Donald Rumsfeld resigned as secretary of defense after Republicans suffered political losses in last year's elections.