Goodling's Lawyers Protest Justice Department Probe Revelation
Yahoo News/Bloomberg
James Rowley
May 3, 2007

May 3 (Bloomberg) -- Lawyers for former U.S. Justice Department aide Monica Goodling protested the agency's announcement of an internal investigation into whether she improperly considered the political affiliation of applicants to be prosecutors.

Goodling, 33, who resigned last month as an aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, has invoked her constitutional right against self-incrimination to refuse to tell Congress about her role in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys.

Her Washington lawyers, John Dowd and Jeffrey King, said in a letter they are disturbed that the Justice Department revealed the inquiry eight days after a House committee voted to compel Goodling's testimony by authorizing a grant of limited immunity from prosecution.

"The timing of your release smacks of retribution and intimidation," Dowd and King wrote. The letter is addressed to Glenn Fine, the Justice Department's inspector general, and H. Marshall Jarrett, counsel for agency's Office of Professional Responsibility.

The Justice Department units are investigating the firings, including whether department officials intentionally misled Congress about the politically explosive dismissals.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd disclosed yesterday that investigators want to know whether Goodling "may have taken improper considerations into account" when reviewing applications of people to be assistant U.S. attorneys. Goodling worked for a time in the department's Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys.

The allegation that Goodling checked the political affiliations of applicants was referred to Fine and Jarrett by Gonzales's interim chief of staff, Chuck Rosenberg, Boyd said. It is illegal to consider the political affiliation of applicants for non-political government jobs.

Pleading the Fifth

Goodling's lawyers said she would assert her Fifth Amendment privilege to refuse to answer the Justice Department's questions because of the "close interrelationship" of its inquiry with the congressional investigation. The lawyers noted that the grant of congressional immunity "is in no way subject to approval" by the Justice Department, which "may not delay" its issuance "by instituting a parallel investigation."

The limited immunity authorized by the House Judiciary Committee would prohibit prosecutors from using any information derived from what Goodling tells Congress as evidence in a criminal case against her.

Dowd has argued that, by testifying in the partisan atmosphere of the congressional investigation, Goodling ran the risk of being prosecuted for allegedly lying under oath. He cited statements by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty that Goodling and others had misled him about the firings.

In a private interview with congressional investigators, McNulty stopped short of trying to blame Goodling for withholding information from him about the firings, according to congressional aides familiar with the testimony.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at

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