Thursday, May 03, 2007

Is DOJ Tampering With Goodling's Immunity Grant?

This allegation of possible law-breaking by Ms. Goodling may be an attempt by the Justice Department to supply a legally acceptable reason to stifle the grant of immunity being offered to the former DOJ official by the House Judiciary Committee.

You see, the Department of Justice must approve the immunity agreement, and certify that it will not jeopardize any current criminal investigations.

This new charge would seem to be ready made for just that purpose.

The Justice Department has begun an internal investigation into whether a former senior adviser to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales improperly tried to fill vacancies for career prosecutors at the agency with Republicans loyal to the Bush administration, department officials said Wednesday.

The inquiry focuses on whether the former adviser, Monica Goodling, sought to determine the political affiliations of job applicants before they were hired as prosecutors -- potentially a violation of civil service laws and a break with a tradition of nonpartisanship in the career ranks at the Justice Department.

The investigation of Goodling complicates efforts by the House Judiciary Committee to offer her immunity in exchange for testimony. Goodling quit as Gonzales's senior counselor last month and has invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in refusing to answer questions from Congress about the prosecutor firings.

Goodling's attorney, John M. Dowd, said yesterday that Goodling would agree to testify under such a deal. But the Justice Department must approve the immunity and certify that the move would not interfere with current or possible criminal prosecutions.

Dowd said Goodling would demand similar immunity before Justice investigators can interview her.

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