Friday, May 25, 2007

Goodling fallout

Following up on my original post, a couple of items from Monica Goodling's testimony on Wednesday appear destined to cause Alberto Gonzales further trouble.

First, Goodling said that Gonzales talked to her about the prosecutor case.

"It made me a little uncomfortable," Monica Goodling, Gonzales' former White House liaison, said of her conversation with the attorney general just before she took a leave of absence in March. "I just did not know if it was appropriate for us to both be discussing our recollections of what had happened."

Trouble is, Gonzales told Congress that he didn't.

Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that he didn't know the answers to some questions about the firings because he was steering clear of aides — such as Goodling — who were likely to be questioned.

"I haven't talked to witnesses because of the fact that I haven't wanted to interfere with this investigation and department investigations," Gonzales told the panel.


Perhaps we should give Gonzales the benefit of the doubt on this one and accept the Justice Department explanation: "The attorney general has never attempted to influence or shape the testimony or public statements of any witness in this matter, including Ms. Goodling," said spokesman Brian Roehrkasse. "The statements made by the attorney general during this meeting were intended only to comfort her in a very difficult period of her life."

All well and good, although that's sort of an odd way to comfort someone. And perhaps he shouldn't lie to Congress about it afterward. And then there's the troubling little fact that he has done this repeatedly: Made a claim, been contradicted by the facts, then backpedaled. Once might be forgiven; but three or four times?

Secondly, the Justice Department is broadening its inquiry into Goodling's hiring practices based on her testimony.

The expanded inquiry, conducted by the department's inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility, comes after testimony Wednesday by former Gonzales aide Monica M. Goodling.

She told a House committee that she had considered party affiliation in screening applicants to become immigration judges.

Judges on top of career prosecutors. Lovely. But why is this a big deal? We already knew that she admitted "crossing the line."

The difference here is that Goodling says she was authorized to do so in this case.

She cited a conversation she had with another Gonzales aide, D. Kyle Sampson, who said the department's Office of Legal Counsel had declared the practice to be lawful.

The Justice Department denies it.

Justice Department officials said no such opinion existed.

They also denied Goodling's assertion that the hiring of immigration judges had been frozen after the department's civil division raised concerns about using a political litmus test.

We now get to play the "somebody's lying" game. Goodling claims she properly briefed James McNulty before his misleading Congressional testimony; he heatedly denies it.

Now she claims she had authorization to use political criteria in hiring; Justice denies it. In that case they could both be telling the truth, but only if Sampson was either lying or grossly mistaken.

Either way, expect more embarassing headlines for Gonzales.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone who tells this is leaving out the important fact that the meeting was an impromtu meeting called for by Monica Goodling, who was distraught at the time. So, there's absolutely no evidence that Gonzales was trying to get stories straight. Then there's the fact that she wasn't even going to testify anyway as she was taking the 5th.

Once again, it's the witch hunters simply looking for something when there is no there, there.


5/26/2007 6:26 PM  

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