The list of Alberto Gonzales’ offense keeps growing. First, he signed off on the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys whose terms had expired and who served as political appointments at the pleasure of the president. Next we learned that his staff had, at one time or another, considered dismissing other U.S. attorneys. And yesterday it was revealed that one of Gonzales’ aides felt “a little uncomfortable” during a meeting on the subject with Gonzales.
That last bit comes from Monical Goodling’s testimony, which I described in more detail here. Goodling told the House Judiciary Committee that she met with Gonzales in mid-March to discuss her future at the Justice Department. During the discussion, Gonzales recounted his general recollection of the process that led to the firing of the U.S. attorneys and asked Goodling if she had any reaction. According to Goodling, she felt a little uncomfortable because she knew she would be called upon to testify about this. Thus, she didn’t respond.
Goodling testified that she did not believe Gonzales was trying to shape her testimony, and that he was just being kind. Since the topic was her future with the Department, perhaps Gonzales was trying comfort Goodling by indicating that he didn’t think she had done anything wrong. Alternatively, perhaps Gonzales was trying to make sure his recollection of the process was correct. In any case, Goodling didn’t think he was trying to influence how she would testify, so there doesn’t appear to be anything improper here.
Gonzales would later testify that he had not discussed the details of the firings with other potential witnesses. That statement does not seem inconsistent wtih Goodling’s recollection that he tried to discuss with her, at a general level, the process that led to the terminations.
The Democrats may have more arrows to fire at Gonzales, but Goodling’s appearance probably was the best one they had left. My sense is it missed its mark.
UPDATE: Byron York saw the hearing the same way. He also has details on the ridiculous attempt of Rep. Stephen Cohen to question Goodling about her law school, Regent University Law School, which Pat Robertson founded. Cohen seemed concerned that committed Christians like Goodling have chosen to enter public service in large numbers during this administration. Perhaps he would like to impose a religious test.
And if you read to the end of Byron’s piece you’ll be rewarded with an account of the effort of (“Who is”) Keith Ellison to interrogate Goodling (the subject was Rachel Paulose). Ellison cut Goodling off several times, stating “I don
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