Alberto Gonzales

Alberto Gonzales 3 Alberto R Gonzales Attorney General Above the Law blog.jpgAttorney General Alberto Gonzales made a make-or-break appearance yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. We covered his SJC testimony extensively. See here, here, and here.
If the Gonzales testimony were a Broadway show, today would be the morning after opening night, when the all-powerful Ben Brantley theatre critics weigh in. And based on the reviews (see links below), the Al Gonzales Show is the biggest disaster since Dracula the Musical. Will someone please drive a stake through the heart of AGAG’s tenure?
As you know, we love drama, and we love surprises. We were secretly hoping that Gonzales — who has never been a great public speaker (we’ve seen him) — would deliver a bravura performance, one that would resurrect his career, leaving his critics stunned and speechless. We were looking for a home run, a tour de force like Clarence Thomas’s Senate testimony, as described by Camille Paglia:

Make no mistake: it was not a White House conspiracy that saved this nomination. It was Clarence Thomas himself. After eight hours of Hill’s testimony, he was driven as low as any man could be. But step by step, with sober, measured phrases, he regained his position and turned the momentum against his accusers. It was one of the most powerful moments I have ever witnessed on television. Giving birth to himself, Thomas reenacted his own credo of self-made man.

But Alberto Gonzales is no Clarence Thomas — and his days as AG are numbered. Gonzales isn’t Spanish for “Souter”; it’s Spanish for “toast.”
Al, the President’s Man [Slate.com]
On a Very Hot Seat With Little Cover and Less Support [New York Times]
Gonzales Rejects Call for His Ouster [Associated Press]
Senators Chastise Gonzales at Hearing [Washington Post]
Gonzales Says He Didn’t Know Why Two Were Fired [Washington Post]
Roughed Up on the Hill [Washington Post]

Alberto Gonzales 3 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Alberto Gonzalez Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re getting underway again, with the testimony of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Some random audience member just shouted out: “Hi Senator Kyl!”
2:39: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who missed much of the morning session due to a funeral, is leading off the afternoon questioning. He reads a brief introductory statement (and barely looks up from his notes). Grassley gloats over how the DOJ tried to prevent a witness from testifying before the Senate Finance Committee, on which he also serves, but got slapped down by the courts.
(Wow, that accent is REALLY Midwestern. Anyone wanna go to the mal?)
2:49: Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) wants to know what safeguards were in place to prevent improper political considerations from entering into the process re: which U.S. Attorneys to fire. He’s very animated, angry — he frequently raises his voice.
AGAG says that he relied upon people he trusted — and repeatedly mentions the Deputy Attorney General, Paul McNulty, and the big role the DAG played in this process. It seems to us that Gonzales wants to make McNulty the fall guy.
(Not a bad idea — McNulty is leaving the DOJ soon, anyway).
3:02: OMG, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) — a Republican, and a conservative one at that — just ripped AGAG a new one. Several new ones, actually. Some quotes:

“You should be judged by the same standards as these U.S. attorneys were judged, and suffer the same consequences.”

“Mistakes were made, and mistakes should have consequences.”

“[T]his was handled incompetently… Communication was atrocious.”

“The best way to put this all behind us is your resignation,” so we can “start with a clean slate.”

“I like you as a man, as an individual, but mistakes have consequences.”

OUCH. OUCH OUCH. Alberto Gonzales = pinata.
If this is what a Republican has to say, wait ’til the Democrats are up to bat next….
4:08: Sorry, our attention wandered… Lots of questioning about matters not related to the U.S. Attorney firings (because this is, after all, technically a general DOJ oversight hearing). E.g., Sen. Kyl asking about offshore gambling outfits; Sen. Specter asking about whether there’s any federal law enforcement angle to the Virginia Tech shootings.
Now, a ten-minute recess.
Earlier: Alberto Gonzales: In the Hot Seat (Part 2)
Alberto Gonzales: In the Hot Seat (Part 1)

Alberto Gonzales 2 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re picking up with where we left off, in our liveblogging of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
10:50: Sen. Herb. Kohl is REALLY going after AGAG. He cites poll data showing that approximately half of the American public wants Gonzales to resign.
Kohl is in essence asking: Why are you still here? He suggests to Gonzales that these poll results matter, because American people’s perceptions of the DOJ and whether justice is being done are very important.
Gonzales has a good line here: “You’re right, Senator. This is not about Alberto Gonzales.” He then says it’s about the work the DOJ is doing (to “protect our children,” of course).
11:00: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) tosses a bunch of softballs in AGAG’s direction. He’s the most friendly questioner of the morning thus far. He also notes that some time ago, a Democratic senator predicted that Gonzales would be gone as AG within a week. “And yet here you are, still Attorney General, a month later. And I’m glad to see that.”
11:08: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is up now. Her lilac blazer stands out in the sea of dark suits.
Feinstein tries to zero in on the precise extent of Gonzales’s involvement. Great line: “Who was the Decider?”
We love ourselves some DiFi!
Okay, time for a 10-minute recess — the first of the morning.
And now we’re back. More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Alberto Gonzales: In the Hot Seat (Part 2)”

Alberto Gonzales Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGWe’re liveblogging Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s desperate fight for his political life testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is just getting underway. Our commentary will be added continuously to this post (until we eventually migrate to a new post). So just refresh your browser for the latest.
9:35: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), SJC Chairman, has been reading a lengthy introductory statement. It’s way harsh on AlGo.
(Nice tie, Senator Leahy — alternating mint and forest green stripes. And a crisp white shirt — not a button-down-collar, thankfully. Politicians dress so much better than judges.)
9:41: Leahy gets in a dig about the White House being content to turn U.S. Attorney’s Offices into outposts of the Bush Administration.
The camera cuts to Gonzales, whose lower lip juts out defiantly — and he shakes his head vigorously, to show disagreement with Leahy’s statement. Will the famously mild-mannered Gonzales actually display some cojones?
More discussion after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Alberto Gonzales: In the Hot Seat (Part 1)”

Rachel Brand Rachel L Brand Above the Law blog.jpgThe U.S. Attorney firing scandal rolls on. The WSJ Law Blog has a good linkwrap, highlighing the latest developments.
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is frantically preparing for his make-or-break testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow. Remember the musical montage in Back to School, in which Rodney Dangerfield is shown cramming for his final exams — studying while eating, while on the treadmill, while getting a massage? We imagine Gonzales’s preparation for his SJC testimony has been a lot like that.
Anyway, here’s the development that excited us the most recently: how the fantabulous Rachel Brand — Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy, a rising star in conservative legal circles, and the reigning Prom Queen of the Federalist Society — narrowly escaped being dragged into this whole mess.
Recently released emails show that Brand was considered as a possible replacement for one of the ousted U.S. Attorneys. From the New York Times:

Rachel L. Brand, by her own admission, has never prosecuted so much as a traffic case. But in January 2006, when Justice Department officials began to discuss removing some United States attorneys, Ms. Brand was proposed as the top federal prosecutor in the Western District of Michigan, an e-mail message released on Friday shows.

In the end, Ms. Brand, who heads the Office of Legal Policy in the department, decided that she did not want the position and was not nominated to succeed Margaret M. Chiara, then the top prosecutor for the district. Ms. Chiara was later ousted.

In declining to be considered, Rachel Brand showed the excellent judgment that has taken her so far, so fast. Had Rachel Brand replaced Margaret Chiara, she would have been the victim of a mainstream media pile-on. The New York Times editorial board would have derided her as a Bush Administration political hack with no prosecutorial experience (albeit a hack with impeccable academic credentials, including Harvard Law School and a Supreme Court clerkship with Justice Kennedy — no Monica Goodling, she).
We’re glad to see that Rachel Brand has managed to steer clear of this whole mess, with her excellent reputation intact, and her dazzling career prospects undimmed by this controversy. Go Rachel!!!
Political Résumé, Not Court, Stood Out for a Contender [New York Times]
The U.S. Attorney Mess: A Monday Morning Roundup [WSJ Law Blog]

* Coke sues film makers for showing Jesus drinking a Coke and saying, “My God, what a testimonial.” [BLT]
* Dean Ken Starr visits HLS for a reenactment of Dred Scott arguments. [
CNN]
* Howard K. Stern hires Lin Wood in Anna Nicole Smith case. [CNN]
* AG Gonzales avoids e-mail altogether… Should you? [ABA Journal]
* Or just get a secret e-mail server. [Wonkette]

Monica Goodling 5a Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGIt’s Good Friday — the Friday before a big holiday weekend. And we all know what that means: a high-profile resignation, timed in an attempt to avoid the news cycle.
Today we bid a fond farewell to the fabulous Monica M. Goodling. As de to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Monica Goodling helped coordinate the controversial firings of eight United States attorneys. When called upon to testify about the matter before Congress, she invoked the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.
Oh, Monica — you will be missed. Long after you disappear from the newspaper headlines, you will live on in our hearts. We will always carry a torch for you.
Like so many great blonde icons — Marilyn Monroe, Lady Diana Spencer, Anna Nicole Smith — you left us before your time. So it is fitting and proper that we quote from these lyrics, as we mark your passing from the halls of justice:

Marilyn Monroe Norma Jean Above the Law Blog.jpgAnd it seems to me, you lived your life
Like a candle in the wind
Never knowing who to cling to
When the rain set in
And I would have liked to have known you
But I was just a kid
Your candle burned out long before
Your legend ever did

Eternal rest grant unto the Justice Department career of Monica Goodling, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon it. May it rest in peace. May her DOJ career, and the careers of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.
Gonzales Aide Goodling Resigns [Associated Press]
Top Gonzales Aide Monica Goodling Resigns [Washington Post]
Gonzales Aide Who Refused to Testify Resigns [New York Times]
Earlier: Prior ATL coverage of Monica Goodling (scroll down)

Alberto Gonzales 2 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGAttorney General Alberto Gonzales may be slightly more secure in his position these days than in the recent past, when it was looking like “Gonzales” was Spanish for “canned.” But he’s not out of the woods yet — which is why speculation about possible successors continues.
Ben Wittes, writing for TNR Online, has some excellent insights. His overall take:

[B]etween a sinking administration that still demands loyalty above all else and congressional Democrats keen on using their new oversight powers, finding a candidate who satisfies both sides will be hard. The next attorney general must be someone acceptable enough to Democrats not just to get confirmed but to tamp down the fire Gonzales has witlessly set.

But he must also be enough of a conservative to satisfy the White House. And he needs a reputation for probity and moral seriousness sufficient to speak to the public and to Congress with the respect that Gonzales obviously lacks. It’s a tall order–a pinch so tight that it squeezes out almost all of the names being bandied about in public.

Wittes then marches through various possible nominees. Discussion continues, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Possible Replacements for Alberto Gonzales”

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgBut so is the mainstream media. The articles about this high-ranking Justice Department official, at the heart of the controversial U.S. Attorney firings, just keep on coming.
We can’t get enough of the coverage. We are completely intrigued — and quite taken by — Monica M. Goodling. She’s the most fascinating and appealing personality we’ve encountered since Alexandra Korry and Shanetta Cutlar (whom we also adore — what can we say, we love strong women).
In the face of widespread media and blogosphere criticism of Monica Goodling, we intend to stake out our position as the leading pro-Monica outlet. It’s all too easy to rank on her non-Ivy League background or her strong conservative beliefs. We will provide a counterbalance to the negativity, by vigorously praising and defending Monica Goodling in all of her fabulosity.
The latest Monica Goodling profiles are by Jonathan Last, for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and by T.R. Goldman and Emma Schwartz, for the Legal Times. Here are some excerpts from Jonathan Last’s article:

Now 33, [Monica Goodling] graduated from Messiah College, an evangelical Christian school, in 1995. After a year at the American University Washington College of Law, she enrolled at Pat Robertson’s Regent University Law School in 1996 – the year it received full accreditation from the American Bar Association. She graduated from Regent in 1999. That November, Goodling went to work for the Republican National Committee as a junior research analyst in the opposition research shop. When her boss, Barbara Comstock, left the RNC to head the Office of Public Affairs in the Ashcroft Justice Department, Goodling went with her.

After spending two years in Public Affairs, Goodling was detailed to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia for a two-year stint in order to get the “field experience” typically required for the attorney general counsel’s job. She served only six months. (The head of EDVA at the time was Paul McNulty, who, having since become a deputy attorney general, also played a role in the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys.)

According to my research, Goodling was the lead attorney on three felony cases while at EDVA. All three ended in plea agreements; none was of particular importance. To give a sense of the magnitude of her work, the highest-level defendant was sentenced to four months in jail; the other two were given three years of supervised release – one of these also received a $100 special assessment. Nevertheless, upon her return to Justice, Goodling assumed the senior counsel and White House liaison posts. So much for the best and the brightest.

OUCH. Mr. Last, that’s no way to treat a lady!
More discussion, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Monica Goodling: Yes, We’re Obsessed”

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgWe were planning to do a quick write-up on the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of Kyle Sampson. But many such write-ups have already been done. And the Sampson testimony, while it had its moments, wasn’t quite as exciting as we were hoping.
So forget about the decidedly unglamorous Kyle Sampson, accurately described by Emily Bazelon as “sweaty, nervous, and soft-spoken.” Let’s talk about a more exciting and dynamic personality, the real breakout star of U.S. Attorney-gate to date:

MONICA GOODLING!!!

Today brings two new, juicy profiles of Monica M. Goodling — one from the Washington Post, and one from the Harrisburg Patriot-News. They contain a lot of interesting material.
Discussion and links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Monica Goodling: Diva Is As Diva Does”

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