Alberto Gonzales

(We were a little distracted by a technical glitch with the site that some commenters pointed out. But we think it has been fixed now, so we’re back to blogging on the hearings.)
Since our last post, there have been some exciting developments. Sen. Pat Leahy’s questioning was pretty boring; he walked Sampson through a bunch of emails, deposition-style.
But things got more interesting when Sen. Arlen Specter took over. Playing his role as Senate moderate, he asked some questions that could be viewed as friendly, and some as hostile. Senator Specter got Sampson to admit that some of Alberto Gonzales’s prior testimony was not consistent with Sampson’s recollection.
Things got even hotter during Sen. Chuck Schumer’s questioning. In a “yes or no,” Perry Mason-esque line of cross-examination, Senator Schumer got Sampson to admit — under oath, and with apparent reluctance — that several of AG Gonzales’s prior statements were “not accurate,” or at least not consistent with Sampson’s recollection. Ruh-roh…
You could tell that Senator Schumer was scoring points because Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a smart and savvy former prosecutor and judge, piped up in the middle of Schumer’s questioning. Senator Cornyn angrily protested that Sen. Schumer was being unfair in not allowing Kyle Sampson, a witness testifying under oath, to answer questions fully. Exciting stuff!
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) is trying too hard. It seems like he is looking for something to be upset about.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) sounds like Alec Baldwin with a lisp. He is vaguely ridiculous.
Okay, it’s lunchtime. In recess until 1:45 PM.
Earlier: Kyle Sampson Inside the Lions’ Den

D Kyle Sampson Kyle Sampson Kyle D Sampson Kyle Samson Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re liveblogging the Kyle Sampson testimony. Our commentary will be added continuously to this post, so just refresh your browser for the latest.
We have high expectations — and we’re not alone. From the NYT:

“I think it will be the most interesting testimony we have heard since Professor Hill,” Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, said as he recalled Anita F. Hill’s appearance in the confirmation hearing for Clarence Thomas for a Supreme Court seat. “I can’t think of anyone else who has quite the drama.”

(Of course, some are trying to dial down expectations. Sen. Chuck Schumer is warning us that the Sampson testimony probably won’t produce the proverbial “smoking gun.”)
Our commentary on the hearing, plus links to various news accounts, will appear after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Kyle Sampson Inside the Lions’ Den”

From the New York Times home page, as of 11:30 PM on Wednesday:
New York Times Kyle Sampson Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpg
Is this, like, a racial slur or something? Granted, it’s a buffalo-buffalo, not a water buffalo; but still…
The NYT subsequently fixed this photo screw-up (but not before an enterprising ATL reader took a screenshot). The Timesfolk replaced the buffalo-and-snowmobiles photo with a sinister-looking Kyle Sampson, accompanying Alberto Gonzales on an earlier visit to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Sampson’s testimony begins at 10 AM today. We’re looking forward to it!
Former Key Aide Testifies Today on Gonzales’s Statements [New York Times]

Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgIn our post from yesterday about Monica Goodling, we asked for insights and tidbits about this high-profile Justice Department lawyer. The post generated an avalanche of comments.
We also received a few emails (although not as many as we might have liked). Here’s one:

I went to high school near Messiah College, and I knew several people named Goodling who went to high school with me. According to U.S. Search, there’s a woman named Monica Marie Goodling who lived in York Haven, PA. The previous congressman from the district including York Haven was Bill Goodling, so she may be distantly related or a granddaughter.

Does anyone know if there’s any relation? We wouldn’t be surprised. It does seem that Monica M. Goodling is well-connected in Republican circles. According to one commenter, she previously worked as a lawyer at the Republican National Committee (RNC). Another claims that she owes her “considerable political mojo” to Karl Rove.
Update: A trusted source tells us that Goodling’s “mojo” comes “not from Karl Rove, but from Barbara Comstock, for whom she worked at the RNC. When Comstock moved to DoJ as head of the Office of Public Affairs, she brought MG with her as her assistant.”
Many of your comments about Monica Goodling were rather harsh. Here’s an email we received that we pass along to add some balance:

I feel compelled to write in, because of the number of people questioning [Monica Goodling's] intelligence and integrity (though I guess that’s to be expected in a public forum)….

Whenever I spend time with her, I am struck by her intelligence, her competence, her dedication to her country, her integrity, and her commitment to her values.

Anyone who knows her at all would not question whether she acted with integrity in this instance. For the people who question how she got her job, she got her job because she works extremely hard and is very good at what she does. I didn’t even know she went to Regent. She is just as smart as most Harvard and Yale grads I know.

We thank our sources for their contributions. Once again, if you have firsthand knowledge of Monica Goodling — as opposed to opinions based on what you’ve read (which we all have) — please drop us a line. Thanks.
DC Picnic Photos [Regent University]
Earlier: Do You Know Monica Goodling?

We tend to doubt it. The source for the underlying exposé, World Net Daily, is perhaps best known for a piece entitled Soy Is Making Kids Gay.
But we pass this along for your consideration. Do with it as you will.
Alberto Gonzales’ Gay-Teen-Sex Cover-Up Shocker! [Wonkette]
Embattled AG now accused in teen sex scandal ‘cover-up’ [WorldNetDaily]

Paul McNulty Paul J McNulty Above the Law blog.jpegThat’s the gist of this lengthy, extremely interesting, thoroughly researched special report. It’s by one of our favorite reporters, Jan Crawford Greenburg — who’s on the verge of replacing Linda Greenhouse as undisputed queen bee of the SCOTUS press corps hive.
After reading the JCG piece, a devastating indictment of McNulty’s involvement in this debacle, one possible outcome presents itself as increasingly likely:

Alberto Gonzales stays on as Attorney General — but Paul McNulty’s head rolls.

A scandal this big needs to claim some victims before it dies down. Some high-ranking DOJ or White House officials must be sacrificed to the vengeful Senate Democrats. And, with all due respect, Kyle Sampson isn’t a sufficiently big fish. Nor is Monica Goodling, for that matter.
But the Deputy Attorney General of the United States? Now that’s another story…
Update: The question then becomes whether McNulty goes quietly. There’s a good case to be made that the answer is no.
DOJ Official Ignored White House Guidance [ABC News]
Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty biography [U.S. Department of Justice]
Paul J. McNulty bio [Wikipedia]

Monica Goodling 4 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPGIf so, we’d love to hear from you — please email us (subject line: “Monica Goodling”). Now that Goodling, who served as the Justice Department’s White House liaison (she’s currently on leave), has announced her intention to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege, the public is hungry for more details about this mystery woman of the DOJ.
So what we do know about Monica Goodling — besides her weakness for Ralph Lauren clothing and red plastic cups?
Dan Froomkin, over at White House Watch, offers up a detailed and comprehensive write-up (with numerous links). He explains why Beltway insiders are once again fixated on a young woman named Monica:

Will another presidency be tripped up by another Monica?

Juries in criminal cases are sternly lectured not to assume guilt when a defendant takes the Fifth. It is, after all, a Constitutional right.

But when a fairly minor player in what had heretofore not been considered a criminal investigation suddenly admits that she faces legal jeopardy if she tells the truth to a Congressional panel? Well, in that case, wild speculation is an inevitable and appropriate reaction.

The WSJ Law Blog also has a nice round-up:

Who is Monica Goodling? She’s a White House liaison for AG Alberto Gonzales and is currently on leave. Emails released by the DOJ last week showed she played a central role in the dismissals. Thanks to this story, we also know that she’s 33, a 1995 graduate Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., and received her law degree at Regent University, the Virginia Beach, Va. school founded by Yale Law School graduate Pat Robertson.

Such credentials led one ATL commenter to wonder:

What I want to know is how a 1999 graduate of the purported “law school” at a purported “university” founded by Pat Robertson has acquired the title of “Senior Counsel” to this nation’s Attorney General.

More on Monica, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Do You Know Monica Goodling?”

Monica Goodling 2 Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPG(No, not THAT Monica — it’s a bit late for that, dontcha think?)
Breaking news from Bloomberg:

Monica Goodling, a counsel to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales who helped coordinate the dismissals of eight U.S. attorneys, will invoke her constitutional right not to answer Senate questions about the firings, her lawyer said.

Goodling, one of four Justice Department officials the agency said could be interviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, will invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege not to answer the panel’s questions, John M. Dowd, her lawyer, said in a statement. Dowd said the committee had requested her testimony under oath.

The Associated Press also has a story, available here.
We’re going to play unfrozen caveman legal commentator, and ask: Based on what we currently know about the U.S. Attorney firings, how could Goodling’s testimony expose her to criminal liability, to place her in a position to invoke the Fifth Amendment? What are we missing here?
Here’s what her lawyer, John Dowd, has to say about the matter. From the AP:

The potential for taking the blame for the department’s bungled response “is very real,” Dowd said. “One need look no further than the recent circumstances and proceedings involving Lewis Libby,” he said, a reference to the recent conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff in the CIA leak case.

The lesson we took away from the Libby case was: “Don’t lie under oath.”
So doesn’t Dowd’s argument prove too much? What does Goodling have to worry about as long as she testifies truthfully?
P.S. We have nothing against the DOJ or the White House under the current Administration. To paraphrase the classic defense against charges of racism, “Some of our best friends are [Bushies]!!!”
We’re just confused, that’s all. Clearly there were some screw-ups here. But is anyone (aside from Daily Kos types) seriously arguing that the underlying conduct was criminal?
Gonzales Aide Won’t Answer Questions About Prosecutor Firings [Bloomberg]
Gonzales Aide to Invoke Fifth Amendment [Associated Press]

Alberto Gonzales 2 Attorney General Alberto R Gonzales Above the Law blog.JPG* Feel like putting down a couple hundred on Barack Obama or John Edwards? [Slate]
* Sen. Hagel uses the “i” word. [MSNBC]
* “New U.S. attorneys seem to have partisan records.” [McClatchy via Election Law Blog]
* AG Gonzales feeling more heat from GOP Senators. [How Appealing (linkwrap)]
* Does DVR violate copyright laws? [Law.com]

John Edwards Above the Law blog.jpgWe’re heading off for a lunch meeting. So we won’t be at our computer when former senator (and trial lawyer extraordinaire) John Edwards holds his noon press conference.
The Edwards campaign hasn’t disclosed what the announcement will be. But according to Ben Smith of The Politico, Edwards “is suspending his campaign for President, and may drop out completely, because his wife has suffered a recurrence of the cancer that sickened her in 2004, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.”
Please use this open thread to discuss anything interesting that happens while we’re gone, including the Edwards announcement. We also hope Alberto Gonzales doesn’t step down as Attorney General while we’re away.
(Actually, maybe AG Gonzales will survive the U.S. Attorney firestorm. It seems that in the past day or two, the departure buzz has quieted slightly. Should Alberto Gonzales be upgraded from critical to stable condition?)
Update: Whoops! Even the MSM gets things wrong sometimes. Ben Smith’s mea culpa appears here.
Edwards to Suspend Campaign [The Politico]
Getting It Wrong [The Politico]

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