Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Immunity For Goodling Being Considered

If she is so afraid to incriminate herself, then a grant of immunity to compel testimony would be the perfect solution.

The confrontation between Congress and the Bush administration over the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys escalated again yesterday as Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee said they are weighing an offer of immunity to a potential key witness in the investigation.

At the same time, the Republican National Committee yesterday turned down congressional demands that it hand over e-mails related to the firings, angering Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).

Frustrated by Monica M. Goodling's refusal to testify, committee Democrats said they may grant limited-use immunity to the former counsel to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.

Such a grant of immunity, which would require the approval of two-thirds of the nearly 40-member panel, would free Goodling to speak about the plan to fire the U.S. attorneys and the dismissals' aftermath, without fear that prosecutors could use her testimony in a criminal proceeding. Goodling has invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself.

Conyers cited Goodling's dual role as Gonzales's aide and the Justice Department's liaison to the White House for the unusual immunity offer, saying she could "clear up the many inconsistencies and gaps surrounding this matter."

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