Friday, May 25, 2007
DOJ Inquiry Into Politicization of Appointee Process Expands
The Justice Department has broadened an internal investigation into whether aides to Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales improperly took into account political considerations in hiring employees, officials familiar with the probe said Thursday.
The expanded inquiry, conducted by the department's inspector general and its Office of Professional Responsibility, comes after testimony Wednesday by former Gonzales aide Monica M. Goodling.
She told a House committee that she had considered party affiliation in screening applicants to become immigration judges.
The Justice Department said it could find no record to support claims by Goodling that taking politics into account to fill positions on the immigration bench had been approved by department officials.
Goodling is already under investigation on suspicion of violating federal civil service rules and department policy for considering political activity while she conducted reviews of candidates for career prosecutors.
She testified before the House Judiciary Committee under a grant of immunity from prosecution.
The internal Justice Department investigation, although focused on Goodling, could turn up embarrassing information about Gonzales' management practices and what, if anything, he knew about the role that politics played in hiring employees protected by civil service laws. ...
President Bush stands by Gonzales, and he reiterated his support for his longtime aide at a Rose Garden news conference Thursday. He said he thought questions about the conduct of the attorney general were "kind of being drug out" for political reasons.
Bush sidestepped questions about whether he was concerned that the Justice Department had become politicized under Gonzales, deferring to the internal investigation for a judgment.
"If there's wrongdoing, it will be taken care of," Bush said.
The president said nothing there about punishment or ramifications for malfeasance. Basically a pledge to more competently cover the White House's ass.