Monica Goodling is testifying before the Senate about the prosecutor firings, and so far the only really interesting stuff involves herself, Kyle Sampson and former deputy AG Paul McNulty.
The Justice Department's former White House liaison ... blamed Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty for misleading Congress about the dismissals.
McNulty's explanation, on Feb. 6, "was incomplete or inaccurate in a number of respects," Monica Goodling told a packed House Judiciary Committee inquiry into the firings.
She added: "I believe the deputy was not fully candid."
She also said the list of those to be fired was compiled by Kyle Sampson. It's not clear if that's a contradiction of Alberto Gonzales' recent statement that McNulty was the driving force behind the firings (notwithstanding his even earlier statement that McNulty wasn't really involved). It doesn't have to be: Sampson is generally acknowledged as having been the keeper of the list, even if he wasn't making all the decisions about who should be on it.
As to herself, she denied playing a major role in the firings but admitted she broke the law when she used politics as a criteria for hiring career prosecutors.
She said she never spoke to former White House counsel Harriet Miers or Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, about the firings. But she admitted to have considered applicants for jobs as career prosecutors based on their political loyalties — a violation of federal law.
"I may have gone too far, and I may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account on some occasions," Goodling said. "And I regret those mistakes."
Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., hammered Goodling on her decisions to hire prosecutors who favored Republicans.
"Do you believe they were illegal or legal?" Scott asked.
"I don't believe I intended to commit a crime," Goodling, a lawyer, answered.
"Did you break the law? Is it against the law to take those considerations into account?" Scott said.
"I believe I crossed the line, but I didn't mean to," she responded.
More as it develops.
Meanwhile, some prosecutors have detailed the political interference Goodling introduced into the hiring of career prosecutors.
When Jeffrey A. Taylor, interim U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, wanted to hire a new career prosecutor last fall, he had to run the idea past Monica M. Goodling, then a 33-year-old aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
The candidate was Seth Adam Meinero, a Howard University law school graduate who had worked on civil rights cases at the Environmental Protection Agency and had served as a special assistant prosecutor in Taylor's office.
Goodling stalled the hiring, saying that Meinero was too "liberal" for the nonpolitical position, said according to two sources familiar with the dispute.
The article also appears to dispute her contention that she wasn't heavily involved in the prosecutor brouhaha.
First, she was Justice's White House liaison. It stretches credibility to suggest that the firings would not have been coordinated with the White House through her.
Second, it notes that she played a central role in the appointment of Rove protege Tim Griffin, met with legislators who complained about David Iglesias and blocked the dismissal of a North Carolina prosecutor.
And then there was this:
Before she and Sampson resigned, Goodling wrote a series of memos summing up the longtime U.S. attorneys she helped to fire. She said that Iglesias was "in over his head," that Carol C. Lam of San Diego showed "a failure to perform" and that Arizona's Paul K. Charlton was guilty of "repeated instances of insubordination."
Yet Goodling's final list, assembled as "talking points" for Congress and the media, also noted that nearly every fired prosecutor had received stellar reviews from Justice Department evaluators.
Now perhaps that was part of her job as Justice Department counsel. But it sure doesn't sound like the actions of someone who wasn't up to her eyeballs in the process.
Update: From the LA Times, yet another example of how Goodling's fingerprints are all over the U.S. attorneys -- this time bypassing a state panel in the search for a new prosecutor in Los Angeles.
Goodling, politics, midtopia