Goodling admits breaking law; says McNulty lied

Monica Goodling (AP)A former Justice Department official told House investigators Wednesday that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales tried to review his version of the prosecutor firings with her at a time when lawmakers were homing in on conflicting accounts.

"It made me a little uncomfortable," Monica Goodling, Gonzales' former White House liaison, said of her conversation with the attorney general just before she took a leave of absence in March. "I just did not know if it was appropriate for us to both be discussing our recollections of what had happened."

In a daylong appearance before the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee, Goodling, 33, also acknowledged crossing a legal line herself by considering the party affiliations of candidates for career prosecutor jobs — a violation of law.

And she said that Gonzales' No. 2, Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, knew more than he let on when he did not disclose to Congress the extent of White House involvement in deciding which prosecutors to fire. McNulty strongly denied that he withheld information, saying Goodling did not fully brief him about the White House's involvement.

Goodling's dramatic story about her final conversation with Gonzales brought questions from panel members about whether he had tried to align her story with his and whether he was truthful in his own congressional testimony.

Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that he didn't know the answers to some questions about the firings because he was steering clear of aides — such as Goodling — who were likely to be questioned.

"I haven't talked to witnesses because of the fact that I haven't wanted to interfere with this investigation and department investigations," Gonzales told the panel.

Goodling said for the first time Wednesday that Gonzales did review the story of the firings with her at an impromptu meeting she requested in his office a few days before she took a leave of absence.

"I was somewhat paralyzed. I was distraught, and I felt like I wanted to make a transfer," Goodling recalled during a packed hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.

Gonzales, she said, indicated he would think about Goodling's request.

"He then proceeded to say, 'Let me tell you what I can remember,' and he laid out for me his general recollection … of some of the process" of the firings, Goodling added. When Gonzales finished, "he asked me if I had any reaction to his iteration."

Goodling said the conversation made her uncomfortable because she was aware that she, Gonzales and others would be called by Congress to testify.

"Was the attorney general trying to shake your recollection?" asked Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala.

Goodling paused.

"I just did not know if it was a conversation we should be having and so I just didn't say anything," she replied. She added that she thought Gonzales was trying to be kind.

Democrats pounced.

"It certainly has the flavor of trying to get their stories straight," said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the committee.

The Justice Department denied that Gonzales did anything at that meeting other than try to help Goodling.

"The attorney general has never attempted to influence or shape the testimony or public statements of any witness in this matter, including Ms. Goodling," said spokesman Brian Roehrkasse. "The statements made by the attorney general during this meeting were intended only to comfort her in a very difficult period of her life."

Gonzales' resignation is being demanded by Democrats and some Republicans in part over the firings. Bush is standing by his longtime friend, but Democrats have pressed ahead with their probe, contending the firings may have been an attempt to exploit a loophole in the Patriot Act to install GOP loyalists as prosecutors without Senate confirmation.

Gonzales has denied that. But the furor has been costly nonetheless — Goodling and Sampson have resigned over it. McNulty, too, is leaving later this year. And many lawmakers who have not directly demanded Gonzales' resignation say he has lost their confidence.

Republicans spent most of the hearing dismissing the hubbub over the firings as politically motivated. Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., said Goodling's meeting with Gonzales sounded innocent, if awkward.

"This thing ended with a thud," Lungren said of the hearing.

Earlier Wednesday, Goodling acknowledged that she had given too much consideration to whether candidates for jobs as career prosecutors were Republicans or Democrats.

"You crossed the line on civil service laws, is that right?" asked Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va.

"I believe I crossed the lines," Goodling replied. "But I didn't mean to."

She said she had limited involvement in the firings and offered the panel's Democrats nothing new in their probe of whether President Bush's top political and legal aides chose which prosecutors to dismiss.

Goodling said she never talked to Karl Rove, Bush's political adviser, nor Harriet Miers, then the president's White House counsel, about the firings. She said Gonzales' former chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, drew up the list of those to be dismissed but she didn't know how names got on it.

She testified that McNulty, the department's highest official after Gonzales, knew more than he admitted to congressional investigators about the extent of White House involvement in the firings of eight federal prosecutors. She said McNulty falsely accused her of withholding key details before he spoke to investigators.

"I believe the deputy was not fully candid," Goodling said.

McNulty told senators during the hearing Feb. 6 that the decision to fire the U.S. attorneys in December was made solely by the Justice Department.

He and another top Justice official, William Moschella, say Goodling and Sampson withheld crucial information from them as they prepared their congressional testimony.

"The allegation is false," she told the panel. "I didn't withhold information from the deputy."

McNulty retorted in a statement that his own testimony had been truthful "based on "what I knew at that time."

"Ms. Goodling's characterization of my testimony is wrong and not supported by the extensive record of documents and testimony already provided to Congress," he said.

After resigning, Goodling refused to testify, citing her constitutional right against self-incrimination. She then disappeared from public view, surfacing only Wednesday at the hearing. Conyers won court approval to have her testify under a grant of immunity from prosecution.

Goodling attended numerous meetings over a year's time about the plans to fire the U.S. attorneys and exchanged e-mails with the White House and at least one of the prosecutors before the dismissals were ordered. A former colleague, Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis, told congressional investigators this month that Goodling broke down in his office March 8 as majority Democrats in Congress prepared to call Justice Department officials to testify amid the emerging controversy.

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Associated Press writer Lara Jakes Jordan contributed to this report.

15 Responses to "Goodling admits breaking law; says McNulty lied"

  1. LurkingFromTheLeft  May 24, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    …Mr. Bush said the continuing investigations on Capitol Hill are just acts in a “grand political theater,” and he urged the lawmakers to turn their attention to “passing legislation that is meaningful for the country.”

    …so he’s declaring it political theater again – hope he gets his award soon –

    …by the way Gonzo, doing a heckuva job – heckuva job –

    LFTL

  2. Sandra Price  May 24, 2007 at 7:05 pm

    Robertson’s university and come out without a drop of ethics or integrity? Is this a training group to promote Christian ethics but done without honesty or integrity? None of them seem to have studied the U.S. Constitution and think nothing of promoting partisanship when it is illegal. Our Justice Department seems to be run under the authority of Pat Robertson.

    Could this be the result of too much television selling of J.C.? The television clerics look like SNL or Mad Magazine. Do they not realize how phony they look even when telling lies?

    I would think Robertson himself would be irate at the people who graduated from his university. Of course, Robertson lost his tax exemption due to his lack of ethics.

    We need the separation of church and state and maybe Robertson should run only a Christian University and leave the law to the Secularists. It can’t get much worse that this Goodling girl!

  3. Ardie  May 24, 2007 at 8:26 pm

    In 2004 the Republicans used “caging lists” to which Goodling admitted. Use of caging lists is a Federal crime. Let’s see some heads roll. It is because of such lists that Bush is now president. Perhaps the votes of three million voters didn’t count even though they voted.

  4. SEAL  May 25, 2007 at 2:11 am

    It easy to get a law degree from an school that only teaches 10 laws from stone tablets.

    The most interesting thing about her admission of guilt by considering political affiliation was she put it as if she had sinned in her mind rather than committing an act. Now, where have we seen that routine before?

  5. Carl Nemo  May 23, 2007 at 8:45 pm

    I watched her for a bit, she’s an attractive blond, quite polite, and no doubt enchanting to a bunch of old, burnt- out, House trolls that even Viagra/Cialis could not resurrect… :))
    I consider her to be a “judas goat” and her testimony should be taken with a grain of salt. Her mea culpa’s are all too smooth and acquiescent, indicating to me she’s being “taken-care-of” for her, “I’m responsible” testimony! In D.C., who knows what the truth might be in these times? Truth becomes lies and lies become truth! The entire governmental mechanism has become a cesspool of decay, rot, and corruption. Are there any questions folks…?! I have a feeling this is how governmental business was conducted in the final days of ancient Rome, prior to it’s fall.

    Nemo **==

  6. LurkingFromTheLeft  May 23, 2007 at 9:57 pm

    …Monica pointed in one direction –

    …Kyle in another –

    …McNulty in yet another –

    …the bottom of this pile of shit will never be reached –

    …but we know the responsible party – Kkkan you say Kkkarl? –

    …if I hear ‘to the best of my recollection’ one more time –

    …isn’t a law degree from Liberty U the equal of a Matchbook Art School certificate?

    …this house of cards has to crumble – too many loose ends –

    LFTL

  7. gene  May 23, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    Has their ever been a time in history when so much shit (illegal shit) is literally happening every day?…hell if I know but it sure is happening now!!! This (nation/world) has already fallen off the cliff, it just hasn’t hit the bottom yet. Days mabe a few months and (smash!!!)… then truely all hell will break loose.

    Bush, Cheney and congress…….skin them all alive and let their worthless carcuses rot in the bleaching hot son. I have never seen this many dam fools and evil bastards whoring each other at the same time.

  8. LurkingFromTheLeft  May 23, 2007 at 11:01 pm

    …correct!

    …between the war, the AG shit, the reason to impeach the little bastard, the lies, the deaths, the gas prices, the lies, the belief that he and his minions are above the law, Cheney, Rove, the lies…

    …hey Gene, I believe you’ve nailed it!

    LFTL

  9. SEAL  May 24, 2007 at 12:13 am

    The continuing saga, “Days of Our Washington Lies.”

    The cast of characters change, the story line shifts from one issue, one department, one person to another, but the result is always the same. Nothing actually happens. Allegation, exposure, confrontation, build up, expectation, letdown, shift, repeat.

    It works. Has been working for decades. It supplies the press corp with copy to numb the public mind that only glances at it enroute to their tax slave jobs.

    It works because it is allowed to work.

  10. anthny  May 24, 2007 at 7:53 am

    anthny:
    In a Fraudian slip one of the senators called her Monica Lewinsky.

  11. Steve Horn  May 24, 2007 at 11:39 am

    Interesting that McNulty didn’t demand immunity from prosecution before he testified – given that Goodling had a deal I’d give what she said negative weight when comparing statements as regards their integrity.

    Apparently during her time in the Whitehouse she spoke with no one, read nothing, saw nothing and did nothing, except to break the rules a little, for which she’s really sorry. They might as well have had Marsha Brady on the stand ….

    Well – when it looks like bullshit, smells like bullshit, sticks to your boot and you see a bull walkin’ away – I guess you can say you’re dealing with bullshit – same can be said, in my humble opinion, for what little goodie two shits had to say yesterday ..

    I’ll betcha she gets a great job in a think tank OR a Republican law firm in DC. By the way, anyone notice if there was a stain on her dress???

  12. ronjohnstone  May 24, 2007 at 11:41 am

    The District of Columbia Bar Association does not list a Monica Goodling as a member. In most, if not all states one cannot be a lawyer without local Bar membership. If she never passed the bar, she is unqualified for work in our Justice Dept. at a level over that of an hourly employee.

  13. Steve Horn  May 24, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Had she been acting as an attorney then you’d be 100% correct, however, she was a liason between the White House and Justice – another well paid political hack position – no doubt brought on for her good, Christian ethics predicated on her attendance of a fanatic right wing university. As she was not acting as an attorney, bar membership would not have been required.
    As I recall, Harriet Miers had let her bar association dues slip and was no longer a member in good standing when Bush nominated her to the SC – at that time she was counsel for the President, was she not?
    Perhaps the laws don’t apply to lawyers in DC ….

  14. Bill Jonke  May 24, 2007 at 11:52 am

    Defender of Gonzo

    Shield for Bush

    Shady cousin to Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

    Nauseatingly sibilant in her speech too.

  15. JudyB  May 24, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    It seems that the only thing that was required in getting an elevated position in this administration, was to show a willingness and propensity for lying to cover Bush/Cheney/Roves assess 24-7.

    Yes, this house of cards will fall but considering that they have been playing 52 pick-up with the public since day one…It’s hard to imagine it falling much farther

    As I have said a million times..”Bush has the integrity of a tapeworm, the brains of a piss ant, and the morals of a crack whore”.. the only difference between he & his henchmen, is they are all more intelligent…but then, so is Barney, his dog.

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