Saturday, May 12, 2007

Goodling To Talk To Investigators Next Week

A federal judge has now signed off on the immunity offer made by Congress to the former assistant to Attorney General Gonzales who presumably knows of the political skullduggery that went on between the White House and the Department of Justice in the U.S. Attorney firing scandal.

Under the order from Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan, Monica M. Goodling "may not refuse to testify, and may not refuse to provide other information" if asked by Congress. ...

The committee extended the offer of immunity after Goodling refused to testify or answer questions from congressional investigators, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination because of allegations that she may have played a role in providing false information to Congress.

"Monica Goodling is a critical witness to this ongoing investigation," House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) said in a statement.

Committee staffers and Goodling's attorney, John Dowd, have held only informal talks about her testimony, according to aides on Capitol Hill. Those talks are expected to intensify next week, with the committee's goal to have Goodling testify before the House breaks for a week-long Memorial Day recess on May 25.

Goodling -- as a top official -- used questionable criteria in hiring new employees at Justice:

Ms. Goodling would soon be quizzing applicants for civil service jobs at Justice Department headquarters with questions that several United States attorneys said were inappropriate, like who was their favorite president and Supreme Court justice. One department official said an applicant was even asked, "Have you ever cheated on your wife?"

Ms. Goodling also moved to block the hiring of prosecutors with résumés that suggested they might be Democrats, even though they were seeking posts that were supposed to be nonpartisan, two department officials said.

And she helped maintain lists of all the United States attorneys that graded their loyalty to the Bush administration, including work on past political campaigns, and noted if they were members of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.

By the time Ms. Goodling resigned in April — after her role in the firing of the prosecutors became public and she had been promoted to the role of White House liaison — she and other senior department officials had revamped personnel practices affecting employees from the top of the agency to the bottom.

The people who spoke about Ms. Goodling's role at the department, including eight current Justice Department lawyers and staff, did so only on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution. Several added that they found her activities objectionable and damaging to the integrity of the department. ...

Ms. Goodling, now 33, arrived at the department at the start of the Bush administration after working as an opposition researcher for the Republican National Committee during the 2000 presidential campaign.

Her legal experience was limited; she had graduated in 1999 from Regent University School of Law, which was founded by Pat Robertson. Deeply religious and politically conservative, Ms. Goodling seemed to believe that part of her job was to bring people with similar values into the Justice Department, several former colleagues said.

She joined the department in the press office. Soon after, two lawyers said, Ms. Goodling complained that staff members in Puerto Rico had used rap music in a public service announcement intended to discourage gun crime.

"That is just outrageous," she told one department lawyer. "How could they use government money for an ad that featured rap music? That kind of music glorifies violence."

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