Attorney 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.
We’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)
We’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.
We’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.
The 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]
It’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 carryatorch 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:
And 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
Attorney 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.
But 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.
We were planning to do a quick write-up on the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony of Kyle Sampson. But manysuchwrite-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:
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.
Kinney Recruiting’sEvan Jowers is currently in Hong Kong for client meetings and still has a few slots available through October 22. Evan will also be in Hong Kong November 14 to December 15. Further, Robert Kinney has been in Frankfurt and Munich this week and is available for meetings with our Germany based readers.
One of our key law firm clients has referred us to one of their important clients in the US, Europe and China – a leading global technology supplier for the auto industry – in order to handle their search for a new Asia General Counsel and Asia Chief Compliance Officer.
Kinney is exclusively handling this in-house search.
This position will have a lot of responsibility and include supervision of eight attorneys underneath them in the Asia in-house team. The new hire will report directly to the global general counsel and global chief compliance officer, who is based in the US. The new hire’s ability to make judgement calls is going to be as important as their technical skill set background.
The position is based in Shanghai and will deal with the company’s operations all over Asia and also in India, including frequent acquisitions in the region.
It is expected that the new hire will come from a top US firm’s Shanghai, Beijing or Hong Kong offices, currently in a top flight corporate practice at the senior associate, counsel or partner level. Of course, the candidate can be currently in a relevant in-house role.
It’s the legal profession’s equivalent of a long-term relationship.
When Michelle Waites, Senior Patent Counsel for Xerox Corporation, attended The LGBT Bar’s Lavender Law conference several years ago, she wasn’t sure what to expect. She left having forged a lasting business relationship that still endures today.
It was during The LGBT Bar’s event – an annual gathering of more than 1,600 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied legal professionals – that Waites first met Marla Butler, a partner at Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi LLP, who specializes in patent law.
Today, the two are still close friends as well as professional colleagues. Butler’s firm continues to work with Xerox – a business partnership forged via The LGBT Bar.
On November 19th, The Bar will present its first-ever conference outside the United States. Dubbed “A Lavender Law Experience for Europe,” the day-long Business Legal Conference will replicate programs such as the one that brought Waites and Butler together for legal professionals in Europe.
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