Statement on Passage of a Resolution in the Senate Calling for the Resignation of Secretary of the Navy Denby
No official recognition can be given to the passage of the Senate resolution relative to their opinion concerning members of the Cabinet or other officers under executive control.
As soon as special counsel can advise me as to the legality of these leases and assemble for me the pertinent facts in the various transactions, I shall take such action as seems essential for the full protection of the public interests. I shall not hesitate to call for the resignation of any official whose conduct in this matter in any way warrants such action upon my part. The dismissal of an officer of the Government, such as is involved in this case, other than by impeachment, is exclusively an executive function. I regard this as a vital principle of our Government.
In discussing this principle, Mr. Madison has well said:
"It is laid down in most of the constitutions or bills of rights in the republics of America, it is to be found in the political writings of the most celebrated civilians, and is everywhere held as essential to the preservation of liberty, that the three great departments of government be kept separate and distinct."
President Cleveland likewise stated the correct principle in discussing requests and demands made by the Senate upon him and upon different departments of the Government in which he said:
"They assume the right of the Senate to sit in judgment upon the exercise of my exclusive discretion and an executive function, for which I am solely responsible to the people from whom I have so lately received the sacred trust of office.
"My oath to support and defend the Constitution, my duty to the people who have chosen me to execute the powers of their great office and not to relinquish them, and my duty to the Chief Magistracy, which I must preserve unimpaired in all its dignity and vigor, compel me to refuse compliance with these demands."
The President is responsible to the people for his conduct relative to the retention or dismissal of public officials. I assume that responsibility, and the people may be assured that as soon as I can be advised so that I may act with entire justice to all parties concerned and fully protect the public interests, I shall act.
I do not propose to sacrifice any innocent man for my own welfare, nor do I propose to retain in office any unfit man for my own welfare. I shall try to maintain the functions of the government unimpaired, to act upon the evidence and the law as I find it, and to deal thoroughly and summarily with every kind of wrongdoing.
In the meantime, such steps have been taken and are being taken as fully to protect the public interests.
The White House, February 11, 1924.
Calvin Coolidge, Statement on Passage of a Resolution in the Senate Calling for the Resignation of Secretary of the Navy Denby Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/329316