The Commons is a weblog for concerned citizens of southeast Iowa and their friends around the world. It was created to encourage grassroots networking and to share information and ideas which have either been suppressed or drowned out in the mainstream media.

"But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place;' some swearing, some crying for a surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left. I am afeard there are few die well that die in a battle; for how can they charitably dispose of any thing, when blood is their argument? Now, if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it; whom to disobey were against all proportion of subjection." (Henry V, Act V, Scene 4)

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Goodling Shed Tears Before Revelations About Firings (Update1)

Goodling Shed Tears Before Revelations About Firings (Update1)

By James Rowley

May 4 (Bloomberg) -- A former U.S. Justice Department official and central figure in the firing of eight U.S. attorneys tearfully told a colleague two months ago her government career probably was over as the matter was about to erupt into a political storm, according to closed-door congressional testimony.

Monica Goodling, at the time an aide to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, sobbed for 45 minutes in the office of career Justice Department official David Margolis on March 8 as she related her fears that she would have to quit, according to congressional aides briefed on Margolis's private testimony to House and Senate investigators. The aides spoke on condition of anonymity.

Margolis's description of the emotional scene in his office sheds new light on divisions that were developing in the Justice Department's Washington headquarters as the Democratic-controlled Congress was demanding documents that might show White House involvement in the dismissals.

Goodling, 33, who was Gonzales's White House liaison, resigned April 6 and has invoked her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to refuse to answer lawmakers' questions about her role in the firings. Her lawyers cited accusations by Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty that Goodling and others had misled him about the firings as a basis for refusing to testify.

Compelled Testimony

The House Judiciary Committee has voted to compel her testimony by granting limited immunity from prosecution. Goodling may have signaled in a letter yesterday -- sent by her lawyers to the Justice Department -- that she is eager to tell Congress her side of the story.

The letter noted that the Justice Department, which is conducting its own inquiry into whether Goodling improperly considered the political affiliation of applicants to be prosecutors, is powerless to block the congressional grant of immunity.

D. Kyle Sampson, Gonzales's chief of staff, resigned March 12, the day before documents disclosing that the White House initiated the dismissals were turned over to Congress. The revelation intensified calls among lawmakers for Gonzales to resign. The attorney general held a March 13 press conference to acknowledge ``mistakes'' for failure to supervise Sampson's handling of the firings.

Gonzales blamed Sampson for not keeping him informed. Democrats accused Gonzales of trying to make Sampson a scapegoat. On March 29, Sampson contradicted his former boss in testimony to Congress, saying the attorney general was wrong in minimizing his own role in the firings.

Consoling Goodling

Margolis testified in private that he tried to console Goodling and listened to her discuss her personal life, a congressional aide said. He recalled telling a colleague that he was concerned about Goodling's emotional state, the aide said.

Jeffrey King, one of Goodling's lawyers, declined to comment on the episode.

Three hours before Goodling visited his fourth-floor office, Margolis told House and Senate investigators that Sampson dropped by to say he had information Margolis needed to know, one congressional aide said.

Margolis recounted that Sampson read his e-mail exchanges with White House aides that showed the decisions on firing the prosecutors were closely coordinated with members of the president's staff, the aide said.

Stunned Reaction

Margolis recalled that he was stunned to learn the extent of White House involvement in the dismissals, congressional aides said. Margolis testified that preparation for McNulty's Senate testimony -- which took place more than a month before his meetings with Goodling and Sampson -- was based on the assumption that the White House only became involved at the end of the firing process, the aide said.

McNulty told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 6 that the White House's only involvement was that presidential aides were informed of the decision before the U.S. attorneys were told. Charles E. Schumer, the New York Democrat leading the Senate investigation into the dismissals, has since said that he believes McNulty may have been misled by Sampson.

Margolis testified that Sampson didn't explain why he hadn't disclosed the consultations with White House Counsel Harriet Miers and other White House aides nor did Margolis ask him, the aide said.

Margolis testified that he believed Sampson informed him of the e-mails because the two had enjoyed a cordial relationship, the aide said. Margolis told investigators he believed Sampson felt a need to inform McNulty and Gonzales because the two had endured criticism for the firings, the aide said.

After Sampson left his office, Margolis testified that he went toward McNulty's office to inform his boss and stopped because Sampson had already gone into the room carrying the binder filled with White House e-mails, the aide said.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net .

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601070&sid=a2E0Xyb65axc&refer=home

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