Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Goodling testifies


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.

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12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, correctly called it a "fishing expedition.

"There ain't no fish in the water and we've spent an awful lot of time and an awful lot money finding that out."

And in the meantime, the Democrats voted yesterday to NOT reprimand Democrat Congressman John Murtha who put earmarks into a bill without identifying himself----a hallmark of the new rules passed by the Democrats as soon as they came to Majority power. Guess they really didn't mean it.

JP5

5/23/2007 3:02 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

You're incorrect about Murtha. He was accused (by Republicans) of threatening to keep a Republican he disliked from getting any earmarks into legislation. There was no evidence against him other than the Republican allegations.

5/23/2007 3:54 PM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

Geez Sean, there you go letting facts get in the way again.

5/23/2007 4:41 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

A bad habit of mine. ;)

I would support the accusation being referred to the Ethics Committee, which could question Murtha directly about the incident.

And I do think Murtha is something of a loose cannon and increasingly a liability to the Democrats.

But reprimand him without evidence? No.

5/23/2007 4:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry....but FACTS are on my side.

"Rogers said Murtha, in the presence of several other members, said: "You will not get any earmarks now and forever."

Rogers called it a "flagrant abuse" of the House code of conduct.

Murtha is chairman of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and one of the leading Democratic critics of the Iraq war.

Murtha's office declined to discuss the incident specifically, but released a statement Friday afternoon saying Democrats and Republicans are treated fairly and equally by his committee."

"IN THE PRESENCE OF OTHER MEMBERS".....AND Murtha's office doesn't even deny that he said it.

In fact,the Democrats who voted against the reprimand defended it by attributing it to John's gruff manner. So, even THEY do NOT deny it.

BTW, add "gruff manner" to "sloppiness" as a new Democrat defense when they do something wrong. Think the Dems would have allowed Tom Delay to get away with this behavior? They always downplay what one of THEIR members do.

JP5

5/23/2007 5:05 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

"IN THE PRESENCE OF OTHER MEMBERS".....

Conveniently enough, all Republicans.

In fact,the Democrats who voted against the reprimand defended it by attributing it to John's gruff manner. So, even THEY do NOT deny it.

Actually, they say that the claimed remarks are too vague to constitute a rules violation. They're giving Roger the benefit of the doubt.

Like I said, I'm more than okay with referring it to the Ethics Committee. But reprimands should await actual evidence of a violation.

5/23/2007 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Murtha's not even denying he said it. There's your big clue, Sean!

We'll wait for Pelosi to refer it to the Ethics Committe. Would that be when hell freezes over?

And what about what the original flack was about? It was about Murtha putting an earmark in a bill and Rogers trying to strike it down. Weren't the Dems going to fix the earmarks problem? Obviously not. Hypocrites. Or better word: liars.

JP5

5/23/2007 5:33 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Like I said, I'm all for questioning Murtha directly about the flap.

But the Dems never promised to eliminate earmarks. They promised to make them transparent by requiring that the Congress member inserting the earmark be identified. The idea was that the publicity would embarrass people and cut down on the pork.

5/24/2007 7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly! And Murtha did NOT follow the new rules. And then he got angry when someone called him on it.

JP5

5/24/2007 3:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

How did Murtha not follow the rules? The earmark was identified as his.

5/24/2007 3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The earmark of Murtha's had been removed once---and he stuck it back in there.

I guess Murtha can't be embarrassed.

So, basically the Dems new rules mean little of nothing---as Congressmen like Murtha are going full-speed ahead. But at least his tirade and outburst has made it more public. And that's a good thing.

BTW, was in in the Dems new rule that if another Congressman tries to strike an unnecessary earmark that he gets threatened for it?

JP5

5/26/2007 6:34 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

I guess Murtha can't be embarrassed.

This is quite possible. As I've said, Murtha is a bit of an embarassment to the party as far as pork goes.

So, basically the Dems new rules mean little of nothing

The rules were intended to bring transparency where there was none. They have done that. The idea was that such exposure would reduce earmarks. Nobody pretended it would eliminate it, or that some brazen members wouldn't care at all. The real test will be if the transparency means Murtha (or Democrats) pay a political price for such trough-feeding. Murtha may not pay a direct price, but Democrats probably will, and they in turn will do their best to limit the damage he does.

5/28/2007 8:14 AM  

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