Monday, March 26, 2007

Senior Gonzales Aide Takes the Fifth

This does not look good.

The senior counselor to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales will refuse to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the unfolding U.S. attorneys scandal, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, her attorneys said today.

Monica M. Goodling -- who is on an indefinite leave of absence from Gonzales's office -- also alleges in a sworn declaration that a "senior Department of Justice official" has admitted he was "not entirely candid" in his Senate testimony and has blamed Goodling and others for not fully briefing him.

The only two people from the Justice Department who have testified before the Senate regarding the US Attorney firings are Alberto Gonzales and Deputy AG Paul McNulty. Shall we flip a coin?

Goodling, 33, is the second senior Justice aide to pose a serious legal threat to Gonzales and other senior Justice officials. Former Gonzales chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson, who has been accused by Gonzales of withholding information, is expected to dispute that claim in testimony scheduled for Thursday in front of the Senate Judiciary panel.

I don't quite understand Goodling's explanation for taking the fifth. She says that some lawmakers have already decided there was wrongdoing, so her testimony could put her in jeopardy. How, exactly?

In the declaration presented to the Senate committee and released by her attorneys today, Goodling says [Sen. Charles] Schumer and other lawmakers, including Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), have already "drawn conclusions" about the U.S. attorney firings. As a result, Goodling says, she has decided to "invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination and decline to answer any and all questions from the committee or its staff."

"I have decided to follow my lawyer's advice and respectfully invoke my constitutional right, because the above-described circumstances present a perilous environment in which to testify," Goodling says.

Oh. I see. If that's sufficient reason to invoke the fifth amendment, then maybe Gonzales should try it too.

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