Note to future Capitol Hill witnesses: it’s a crime to lie to Congress, even if you’re not under oath.

Stephen Griles, the former number two official at the Department of Interior, learned this recently, pleading guilty to misleading a Senate committee about his ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Griles claimed to have had no special relationship with the lobbyist, even though he was romantically involved with one of Abramoff’s intermediaries and Abramoff referred to him as “our guy” at Interior.

Top officials at the Justice Department could soon find themselves in a similar predicament for their ever-shifting explanations of why eight US prosecutors were unexpectedly dismissed. No wonder the White House doesn’t want a transcript of Karl Rove and Harriet Miers’s testimony.

And it’s no surprise that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has yet to testify before Congress about his contradictory role in Attorneygate. When he goes up to the Hill next month, Gonzales must watch his words carefully. If he tells the Senate Judiciary Committee what he told reporters two weeks ago (“was not involved in seeing any memos, was not involved in any discussions about what was going on”) he may be more than out of a job.