Goodling admits she broke the law, accuses Gonzales of lying to congress
NY Times
Witness for the Prosecutors
NY Times Editorial
May 24, 2007

It would have been naïve to think that Monica Goodling, a right-wing true believer and onetime Republican opposition researcher, was going to blow the whistle on the United States attorney scandal. But Ms. Goodling made some disturbing admissions yesterday, even as she strained to present every fact in the most favorable light to her Bush administration allies and claimed convenient memory lapses. Ms. Goodling admitted to politicizing the Justice Department in ways that certainly seem illegal; she made clear that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales lied at a critical point in the investigation; and she gave Congress all the reason it needs to compel Karl Rove and Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, to testify about what they know.

In her testimony to the House Judiciary Committee, Ms. Goodling removed all doubt about whether partisan politics infected the Justice Department's treatment of federal prosecutors. She admitted that she investigated the party affiliations, and even campaign contributions, of applicants for prosecutor, and other nonpolitical jobs. "I know I crossed the line," she said of her actions, which may have violated federal law. Her admission that partisan politics was used to hire people only makes it more likely that it was also used to fire people.

Ms. Goodling appeared to be straining to make her testimony helpful to Mr. Gonzales, but when backed into a corner, she conceded that he had lied about his role in the scandal. At a press conference in March, he said he had not seen any memos or participated in any discussions about the firings. But Ms. Goodling made clear that he was briefed and attended a key meeting.

Ms. Goodling was an odd witness. She was one of the most powerful officials in the Justice Department, but claimed to be a minor player who barely knew what was going on around her. "At heart, I am a fairly quiet girl, who tries to do the right thing and tries to treat people kindly along the way," said the 33-year-old Ms. Goodling. She presented herself as an innocent, yet testified only under immunity and admitted to apparently illegal practices.

The only people odder than Ms. Goodling were the House Republicans who rushed to praise her. Even in these partisan times, a Justice Department official who admitted to her level of wrongdoing ought to draw bipartisan condemnation.

As with other witnesses, notably Mr. Gonzales, Ms. Goodling's memory lapses were not credible. On questions that made her uncomfortable, the past was a blur. But on others, her recall was remarkable, as when she denied misinforming Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty about the dismissal of the attorneys before he testified to Congress.

Ms. Goodling said she did not know how prosecutors were added to the list of those to be fired. Kyle Sampson, Mr. Gonzales's former chief of staff, and the keeper of the list, has said the same thing. So have Mr. Gonzales and Mr. McNulty. They may think that if no one owns up, the scandal will go away. But since the list was by all accounts a joint Justice Department and White House effort, Congress has no choice but to question under oath the two people who are in the best position to shed light on the mystery: Mr. Rove and Ms. Miers.

Ms. Goodling made clear that the Justice Department was shamefully politicized. Congress needs to find out how far it went, and who was involved. Then it can begin the long and difficult process of trying to restore the department's integrity and reputation.

Original Text