Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Scandal Gets More Interesting

The U.S. attorney firing scandal is heating up big time.

Monica Goodling, the Department of Justice official who said Monday that she'll invoke the Fifth Amendment rather than talk to lawmakers, is a frequent figure in department e-mails released so far as part of the congressional investigation into the firings and hirings of U.S. attorneys.

Goodling, 33, is a 1995 graduate Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., an institution that describes itself as "committed to embracing an evangelical spirit."

She received her law degree at Regent University in Virginia Beach, Va. Regent, founded by Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson, says its mission is "to produce Christian leaders who will make a difference, who will change the world."

E-mails show that Goodling was involved in planning the dismissals and in later efforts to limit the negative reaction. As the Justice Department's liaison to the White House, she could shed light on the extent of White House involvement in the dismissals.

She may have a good reason to be concerned:

The Justice official who allegedly pointed a finger at Goodling and other aides is either Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty or Assistant Attorney General William Moschella, the only two officials to testify so far.

And an editorial in today's New York Times spotlights the interesting timing of the release of the incriminating document about the Attorney General's participation in a meeting about the dismissal of the U.S. attorneys:

Last Friday night, the Justice Department released a calendar entry that directly contradicts Mr. Gonzales's insistence that he was out of the loop. It shows that he attended an hourlong meeting on Nov. 27 to discuss the upcoming firings of seven of the prosecutors. Previously, he had insisted that he never "had a discussion about where things stood."

The release of the calendar entry is disturbing because it suggests not only that Mr. Gonzales may have personally approved the firings — something he has denied — but that the Justice Department has been dishonest in its responses to Congress. The department had already released what it claimed was a full set of relevant documents, and it now says it simply overlooked the ones released on Friday. But the information about the Nov. 27 meeting may have been released because Mr. Gonzales's chief of staff, who was present at it, has agreed to testify before Congress this week.

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