Department of Justice

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)”

Viewer discretion advised. This video clip is very elitist (or “tierist,” as some of you might say, referring to the U.S. News system of ranking law schools in tiers):

Bill Maher New Rule – From Elites to Jesus [YouTube]

Paul McNulty Paul J McNulty Above the Law blog.jpegWe had previously suggested that Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty — who by some accounts is the one who REALLY screwed up in the U.S. Attorneys firing fiasco — might be leaving the Justice Department. It looks like our prediction may come to pass.
Rule No. 1 inside the Beltway: “If they don’t deny it, then it’s true.” (Rule No. 2: “Even if they do deny it, it’s probably still true.”)
Applying Rule No. 1, Paul McNulty is leaving the DOJ. From the BLT:

Is Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty looking for a new job? Yes, said the Wall Street Journal yesterday, citing “people familiar” with his plans. McNulty himself was a bit more sanguine, telling the Journal he was “fully focused on doing my job and haven’t given much thought to what comes next.”

McNulty chose not to knock the story down today. During a brief interview with Legal Times following a speech to a legal panel about the Thompson Memo and corporate fraud, McNulty was asked if he was looking for a new job. McNulty responded, after a pause: “I can’t answer that.”

If you have any thoughts about who might be up for the thankless task of serving as DAG for the last 21 months of the Bush Administration, we welcome them in the comments. (We throw the considerable weight of Above the Law behind the Prom Queen.)
McNulty Can’t Say If He’s Staying [The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times]
Gonzales Deputy, in Crossfire, Looks for Quiet Exit [Wall Street Journal]
Earlier: Paul McNulty: It’s All His Fault


Monica Goodling 5 Monica M Goodling Monica Gooding Alberto Gonzales Above the Law blog.jpgWe are very, very excited. The magnificent Monica Goodling, the former Justice Department lawyer involved in the controverisal U.S. Attorney firings, may be coming to our living room!
Alas, Goodling won’t be visiting us in person (although we hereby issue her a standing invitation). But we’re hopeful that she’ll be appearing on our television, via C-SPAN, in the near future. From Fox News:

The House Judiciary Committee is set to vote on whether to grant Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ former counsel immunity from prosecution and force her to testify about the firings of eight federal prosecutors.

“I am hopeful we can approve immunity so that we can schedule her to testify as soon as possible and begin to clear up the many inconsistencies and gaps surrounding this matter,” Chairman John Conyers, D-Mich., said in a statement Tuesday.

A two-thirds vote of the panel is required to approve the resolution, which would direct the House counsel to apply to U.S. District Court for a grant of immunity for Monica Goodling, Conyers’ statement said.

We urge the House Judiciary Committee to approve immunity, so Monica Goodling can be beamed into the homes of millions of Americans.
Meanwhile, in other Goodling-related news, one of you drew our attention to an interesting article about her alma mater, Regent University School of Law. It’s a bit dated, but there’s a hook: it’s by Charlie Savage, who just won a Pulitzer for his coverage of President Bush’s use of signing statements. Congratulations, Charlie!
It’s an excellent read. Here are the last two paragraphs:

One third-year [Regent law] student, Chamie Riley, said she rejected the idea that any government official who invokes her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination could be a good representative of Regent.

As Christians, she said, Regent students know “you should be morally upright. You should not be in a situation where you have to plead the Fifth.”

Bite your tongue, Chamie Riley! You are not fit to hold Monica Goodling’s red Solo cup.
House Panel to Vote on Immunity for Gonzales Aide, Monica Goodling [Fox News]
Scandal puts spotlight on Christian law school [Boston Globe]
Earlier: Prior (adoring) ATL coverage of Monica Goodling (scroll down)

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]

Apparently the world is not yet ready for successful and strong professional women.
Even if they are widely praised for their brilliance, work ethic, leadership, and communication abilities. And even if they balance their career successes, which might be threatening to some — e.g., chauvinist pigs — with “world-class” baking abilities.
SIGH…
ATL poll results Monica Goodling Above the Law blog.jpg
Earlier: Monica Goodling: Just How Fabulous Is She?

* 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]

As regular ATL readers know, around here we worship Monica M. Goodling, the former Justice Department lawyer who resigned last Friday. The DOJ won’t be the same without her.
We’d like to see how many of you share our opinion of Monica Goodling. Please take our poll:

Rachel Paulose Rachel K Paulose Rachel Kunjummen Paulose Above the Law blog.jpgAs we noticed from your comments on our Monica Goodling “in memoriam” post, you know all about Rachel Paulose, the divalicious U.S. Attorney for the District of Minnesota. Paulose, who is reportedly “best buds” with Goodling, is another young, conservative, high-powered Justice Department lawyer, who now finds herself surrounded by controversy.
Last month, there was a mini-controversy over the extravagance of Paulose’s investiture as U.S. Attorney. That fabulous event, described by some as “a coronation,” featured a Marine Corps color guard and a performance by a municipal choir. But as today’s New York Times notes, “the complaints about Ms. Paulose’s investiture seem mild in comparison with the uproar ignited on Thursday.”
So what happened on Thursday? Here’s a concise summary:

It’s a major shakeup at the offices of new U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose. Four of her top staff voluntarily demoted themselves Thursday, fed up with Paulose, who, after just months on the job, has earned a reputation for quoting Bible verses and dressing down underlings.

Oh my goodness. Absolutely diva-licious!

Deputy U.S. Attorney John Marti is just one of the people dropping themselves in rank to simply [an assistant] U.S. Attorney position. Also making the move are the heads of Paulose’s criminal and civil divisions and the top administrative officer. The move is intended to send a message to Washington – that 33-year-old Paulose is in over her head.

Did Main Justice get the message? Maybe. According to today’s Washington Post, “The department was so alarmed that it sent a Washington-based Justice official to Minneapolis this week to try to talk the three out of their plans, officials said.” But the effort was unsuccessful:

John Kelly, deputy director of the Justice Department’s executive office of U.S Attorneys, visited Minneapolis on Thursday to try to resolve the situation…. The prosecutors stepped down after Kelly’s visit.

It was coordinated action by the “demotees,” according to TPM:

A source said managers had been unhappy with Paulose and decided to collectively resign. “They did it jointly because they couldn’t stand her anymore,” the source said, citing what been described as her “dictatorial management style and general lack of management experience.”

What do we think of all this? As one of you suggested, we actually overlapped in law school with Paulose, who was two years ahead of us. We were friendly with her. And we have some interesting tidbits to share about this magnificent diva, based on our interactions with her. (We may even reprint a juicy email exchange we had with her, some time ago, which contains hints of her future divahood.)
But that will have to wait until after the holiday weekend. In the meantime, check out the cornucopia of links, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “DOJ Diva Alert! Meet U.S. Attorney Rachel K. Paulose”

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)

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