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Top Gonzales aide resigns

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April 6, 2007

By LARA JAKES JORDAN

040709gonzalessm.jpgA top aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (right) abruptly quit Friday, almost two weeks after telling Congress she would not testify about her role in the firings of federal prosecutors.

There was no immediate reason given, but Monica M. Goodling’s refusal to face Congress had intensified a controversy that threatens Gonzales’ job.

She resigned in a three-sentence letter to Gonzales, calling her five-year stint at Justice an honor and telling him, “May God bless you richly as you continue your service to America.”

Asserting her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Goodling had rejected demands for a private interview with a House committee investigating the firings of eight U.S. attorneys.

She was senior counsel to Gonzales and was the department’s White House liaison before she took a leave amid the uproar over the ousters.

The Justice Department declined comment on the resignation.

Goodling is at the center of the controversy because, as the bridge between the Justice Department and the White House, she may be best suited to explain how deeply Karl Rove and other members of President Bush’s political team might have been involved in the firings. Congress also wants her to testify on Gonzales’ role in light of his shifting explanations.

Her resignation came less than two weeks before Gonzales’ own planned testimony to Congress, which may determine his fate as attorney general. Several Republican lawmakers have joined Democrats in calling for his resignation or dismissal over the firings and other matters at Justice.

Goodling’s attorney, John Dowd, confirmed she had resigned but declined further comment.

Her resignation is the third by a Justice Department official who helped plan and coordinate the dismissals of the prosecutors, an effort that began shortly after President Bush won re-election in 2004.

Gonzales’ chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, resigned under fire March 12 for orchestrating the firings.

Additionally, Mike Battle, the former director of the department’s executive office of U.S. attorneys, announced several weeks ago that he was leaving to join a private law firm. Battle’s resignation has not been linked directly to the controversy, although he helped notify some of the U.S. attorneys that they would be asked to leave.

“While Monica Goodling had no choice but to resign, this is the third Justice Department official involved in the U.S attorney firings who has stepped down,” said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who was among the first senators to question the firings and the first to call for Gonzales’ resignation.

“Attorney General Gonzales’ hold on the department gets more tenuous each day,” Schumer said in a statement.

Gonzales is also under fire for the FBI’s improper and in some cases illegal prying into Americans’ personal information during terror and spy probes.

Goodling’s lawyers have asked Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, not to compel her to appear at a public hearing knowing of her intention to invoke the Fifth Amendment and refuse to answer questions.

Her lawyers have said such a hearing would be a perjury trap for her. They note allegations that Goodling misled Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty before he testified to Congress about the ousters, causing him to give an incomplete and possibly inaccurate account.

Goodling’s mother, Cindy Fitt of Osceola Mills, Pa., said the resignation had been anticipated. “She told me I’m to say ‘no comment’ for everything,” the mother said in a brief telephone interview.

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Associated Press writers Ron Fournier in Washington and Mark Scolforo in Harrisburg, Pa., contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2007 The Associated Press

3 Responses to Top Gonzales aide resigns

  1. Joe Keegan

    April 7, 2007 at 9:12 am

    Is it just me or have you ever notice that the Mandarin class, which holds the US Constitution in contempt,suddenly developes a Mafia-like almost sacrosanct reverence for it- especially the Fifth- at the most opportune times?

  2. SEAL

    April 8, 2007 at 4:06 am

    Goodling must be forced to testify. No one can refuse a congessional subpoena and she can be granted imunity for anything she tells the committee. Given Imunity, she cannot hide behind the “self incrimination” excuse. She will have to answer all questions or be held in custody for contempt until she agrees to answer. The democrats must not allow her to get away.

    Goodling is the one person that can connect all the dots and tell when, where, who, what, and how the decision process happened. Her “truthful” testimony would legimize all the other subpoenas for Rove, Meirs, Gonzales, and the rest. It’s probable that she will connect Bush to the decision, at least in some remote way.

    Resigning her position does not exempt her from the subpoena. The only reason Goodling would not be forced to testify would be because the democrats do not want her to expose the truth about the attorney firings.

    The democrats are in the ideal position to beak the power of Bush/Cheney’s administration. If they force Rove to testify under oath they can expose and discredit him in such a way as to cause his departure from the administration.

    If at the same time they stand their ground on the war finance bill and tell Bush to sign it or he will have no money for his war, their power is broken and they will never get it back. Bush will collapse into the lamest duck ever after some sort of tantrum. All he will be able to do is whine for the last two years and watch as all of the lies and thievry is exposed laying him (and many others) open to criminal charges when his term expires.

    Do the democrats have the intelligence to do this? It doesn’t take courage. Only the brains to recognize that they are in a no lose position. They can bring King George and his Dick back to powerless reality. They must not ignore the message the voters gave them last November. Now is when we find out whether they work for us or the lobbyists.

  3. erika morgan

    April 8, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    It seems to me that the only salvation of our constitution is to finally and permanently break the corporate cartel that has taken over the rights of our sovereign citizens to self govern. Here we have an outline of how to do it, thanks. This it seems to me is the only rational thing, and is the reason I voted in Democrats last November. We have to have a general understanding in DC that they are not a ruling aristocracy, and if they can not represent us properly, then communications are immediate enough “now a days” that a direct democracy makes sense and is workable.