Spot learned today that one of the persons that the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to talk to in the U.S. Attorneys purge is going to keep her lips zipped. Monica Goodling won't talk:
The official, Monica Goodling, the Justice Department's liaison to the White House, is invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and so will decline to answer "any and all questions regarding the firings," her lawyer, John M. Dowd, said.
But Dowd doesn't want you to think that Goodling has anything to hide:
But Ms. Goodling's refusal does not signal that she has anything to hide, Mr. Dowd told the Senate Judiciary Committee's chairman, Senator Patrick J. Leahy. Rather, Mr. Dowd said, it is a recognition of the "hostile and questionable environment" that has been spawned by the controversy.
"For example, you, Mr. Chairman, have concluded that the attorney general and deputy attorney general 'failed to tell Congress the whole truth about this matter under oath,' " Mr. Dowd told Mr. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.
Mr. Dowd also cited remarks by another committee Democrat, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, who asserted on March 13 that the Justice Department statement's [sic] about the firings consisted of "misleading statement after misleading statement." Such remarks illustrate the hostile atmosphere permeating the controversy over the firings, Mr. Dowd said.
In other words, Patrick Leahy is a meanie. And so is Chuck Schumer. But you see, boys and girls, you don't get to decline to testify just because you think people won't be nice to you. How stupid do you think Senator Leahy is, Mr. Dowd? Spot thinks he sees right through you:
Mr. Leahy said this afternoon he was disappointed in Ms. Goodling's decision, "but everyone has the constitutional right not to incriminate themselves with regard to criminal conduct."
"The American people are left to wonder what conduct is at the base of Ms. Goodling's concern that she may incriminate herself," Mr. Leahy added.
Wonder indeed. Most of us are actually pretty suspicious by now.
There is a way around this, gentlemen. Immunize Ms. Goodling's testimony before the committees and then compel her to talk on pain of contempt. Pat Fitzgerald could probably tell you about the contempt part, or maybe even Judy Miller. Goodling is a small fish; immunizing her would be helpful in getting to the bottom of this entire tawdry affair. In fact, that's what attorney Dowd may be fishing for.
Grants of immunity by Congress are controversial, and it is often prosecutors who are the most opposed to them. Here is an exchange between Sam Dash and Archibald Cox on the subject generally of congressional committees mucking around a prosecutor's turf:
[Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox to Samuel Dash, Chief Counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee: ] "No one doubts the responsibility your committee had to fully investigate and expose the facts at a time when the Department of Justice could not be trusted to do that job. But now, as a result of the urging of the Senate itself, an independent special prosecutor has been appointed-me-with a broad mandate to investigate all the Watergate charges, and even more, to prosecute those who are indicted by the grand jury. It doesn't seem to make any sense that there should be two investigations, does it?"
[Dash to Cox:] "[T]hat's absolutely ridiculous! ... Our tasks are entirely separate and distinct. You were appointed to conduct a criminal investigation, which will end up in decisions that certain persons are guilty of criminal offenses and might have to go to jail. We have a broader responsibility. Under our mandate and constitutional duty, our Senate committee must find and publicly expose the facts involving corruption and abuse of power in the executive branch. We also must recommend remedial legislation, but we can't do that without producing the facts that support such legislation. The committee can't abdicate these responsibilities now. I can tell you that [committee Chairman] Ervin and the other members of the committee would be absolutely opposed to shutting down our public hearings."
Because Goodling is the liaison between the Justice Department and the White House, she probably knows where most of the bones are buried.
Tags: U.S. Attorneys purge, Monica Goodling