Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Leahy Wants Answers

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., sent a letter Tuesday to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales demanding to know if senior counselor Monica Goodling is still a Justice Department employee and whether other key employees remain with the agency or have hired lawyers.

The letter came one day after news that Goodling, who also served as Justice's liaison to the White House, would invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination rather than discuss with Congress whether she had a role in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys. Justice recently announced she had taken a leave of absence.

The letter also seeks the employment status of three other aides mentioned as possible witnesses: Michael Elston, chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty; acting Associate Attorney General William Mercer and Michael Battle, the former top official in the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys.

The letter contends Gonzales assured Leahy and other senators during a March 8 meeting that the four employees and his former chief of staff, D. Kyle Sampson, would cooperate with the panel's investigation so there would be no need for subpoenas.

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