WASHINGTON, Nov. 9 (UPI) -- John Ashcroft has resigned as attorney general of the United States, the White House announced Tuesday.
"John has served our nation with honor, distinction, and integrity," President Bush said in a statement. "I appreciate his service and wish him and Janet all the best."
Ashcroft, 62, and Commerce Secretary Don Evans, whose resignation also was announced Tuesday, had been rumored to plan to step down ahead of Bush's second administration.
The White House statement did not give an explanation for Ashcroft's resignation, but aides had said he was worn down by the job. Earlier this year he was hospitalized and his gallbladder was removed.
Bush nominated Ashcroft to the post Dec. 22, 2000. In his statement Tuesday Bush said the attorney general has "worked tirelessly to help make our country safer," operating as the point man on the domestic front of the war on terror.
Ashcroft reorganized the Justice Department in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, but had come under attack from groups that said his policies encroached upon civil liberties, particularly those of detained or accused Muslim immigrants.
There was no immediate word what Ashcroft, a former Republican senator from Missouri, will do after leaving the post.