Regent University School of Law graduate Monica Goodling, whose meteoric rise to the highest levels of the Department of Justice puther in a position to aid and abet a program of politicizingprosecutions by US Attorneys, opened her testimony before the HouseJudiciary Committee Wednesday by invoking her Fifth Amendment right torefuse to make statements that might incriminate her. Committee ChairJohn Conyers, D-Michigan, then delivered to Goodling a grant ofimmunity that allowed her to do something that is rare indeed for Bushadministration true believers: Tell the truth, the whole truth andnothing but the truth.
Goodling was right to be concerned about incriminating herself. Underquestioning from Democratic committee members, the former politicalcommissar for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales repeatedly admitted to”crossing the line” that separates legal and illegal activities byfederal officials. In so doing she offered another powerful insightinto the way in which the Bush administration, to which Goodling saysshe was unquestioningly loyal, has replaced the rule of law withpolitical calculations.
Whether Goodling met the “truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth”mandate remains open to question. Like her former boss, she sufferedfrom convenient memory loss at times regarding critical questions. ButGoodling’s “I don’t recalls” came far less frequently than those ofGonzales. And she was willing to take a good deal more responsibilityfor what went awry in the Department of Justice than has the man whoremains, tenuously, in charge of the agency.
Goodling opened her testimony with a declaration that she had “nodesire” to speak negatively about those she worked with in the Bushadministration. She then proceeded to point fingers of blame atmembers of what she described as her DOJ “family,” including those whohad revealed details of her role in the scandal over the hiring andfiring of US Attorneys for political reasons.
Goodling went on to:
• confirm that former DOJ Chief of Staff Kyle Sampson had compiled alist of US Attorneys who would be fired — apparently for beinginsufficiently partisan in their inquiries and prosecutions — and thatGonzales had been aware of the list and involved in meetings about it,
• place White House political czar Karl Rove in a room where thefirings were discussed,
• acknowledge that, as early as 2OO5, there was talk about forcingUS Attorneys out to make way for White House favorites and
• explain how US Attorneys were “rewarded” for helping to promoteand defend the Patriot Act, at a time when that law was under attack asan assault on basic liberties.
The former White House liaison for the DOJ told the committee she neverattended meetings with top White House aides involving the areas forwhich she was responsible. At several turns, Goodling portrayed herselfas a strangely disconnected and powerless underling who was left out ofmeetings, told to stay in the shadows, sent away from importantsessions in taxis and otherwise neglected, dismissed and overlooked.Yes, she may have had the title of Director of Public Affairs, but,”no,” Goodling told the committee, she was “not a decision-maker.”Rather, she at one point presented herself as a sort of departmentalcheerleader who would send out e-mails to political appointees asking”Hey, who wants to go up to the White House…?”