George Bush photo

Letter on the Resignation of Attorney General Dick Thornburgh

August 09, 1991

Dear Dick:

It is with mixed emotions that I accept your resignation as Attorney General effective as of the close of business on Thursday, August 15, 1991.

Your departure from the Cabinet will be a great loss. As America's chief law enforcement officer, you have been relentless and unwavering in your pursuit of all those who would prey upon our society, from the violent offender, to the international drug trafficker; from the organized crime boss, to the environmental polluter; from the savings and loan thief, to the corrupt public official. At the same time, you have provided crucial and courageous leadership on a host of difficult issues, from efforts to enact our civil rights and crime bills, to protecting the Executive Branch against incursions on our constitutional authority.

Most important, during the last three years, when I had a tough call to make, I knew I could rely on your sound judgment and advice. That is, after all, the most important tribute that a client can pay to his lawyer. So, as you leave the Cabinet, know that you carry with you the utmost thanks of your client for a job well done.

In returning to your home state of Pennsylvania, however, you provide our Party with the strongest possible candidate in the special election to fill the seat left vacant by the tragic death of Senator John Heinz. And come next year, I will be looking forward to working with "Senator Dick Thornburgh" on the many important issues that our Nation faces.

Barbara joins me in extending to you and Ginny and your family all our best wishes.


George Bush

Dear Mr. President:

As you know, I earlier expressed to you my intention to seek the Republican nomination for the United States Senate seat from Pennsylvania left vacant by the tragic death of our mutual friend, Senator John Heinz.

As you also know, there was a very real question about whether the election to fill that seat would be held this year or at any time before 1994. That question appears to have been resolved this week by a federal court in Pennsylvania.

Accordingly, I am tendering to you my resignation as Attorney General effective as of the close of business on Thursday, August 15, 1991.

I cannot begin to express to you how fulfilling and rewarding my service as a member of your Cabinet has been. With your strong support, the Department of Justice has led a stepped-up law enforcement effort against international drug traffickers and money launderers, organized crime, white collar criminals, environmental polluters, and those who would deprive our citizens of their civil rights and the advantages of free market competition. Much of our success in these endeavors has been due to the day-in, day-out efforts of the many dedicated employees of this Department, but your leadership and strong support have been crucial and invaluable.

Ginny and I are both also most appreciative of your efforts in securing passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, which I believe to be the most important civil rights legislation signed into law in the last 25 years.

On a more personal note, we will always treasure the warm friendship which you and Barbara have shown toward our family. The many personal kindnesses extended to us during the past three years have added immeasurably to the pride we feel in having served your Administration and our nation during these challenging and exciting times.

I hope to continue to have the opportunity to work with you during the months and years ahead in the service of our country. Until then, I extend my best wishes for further success to you and to my Cabinet colleagues.


Dick Thornburgh

Note: The letters were made available by the Office of the Press Secretary but were not issued as White House press releases.

George Bush, Letter on the Resignation of Attorney General Dick Thornburgh Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives