Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Goodling Betterling

Paul Kiel

OK, so Monica Goodling is the first Justice Department official in history to remain in office while invoking her Fifth Amendment privilege. But the Democrats just won't leave her alone.

In the Senate, they want to know whether she'll cooperate with an internal Justice Department investigation into the U.S. attorney firings. If she does or she doesn't, it's pretty clear she ought to be fired.

And in the House, they're not convinced by her lawyer's justification for taking the Fifth. So they want to have her come over and explain it herself.


Money quote (one of many from the House letter):
Most of the assertions in your letters to Sen. Leahy and in Ms. Goodling's declaration do not constitute a valid basis for invoking the privilege against self-incrimination. The fact that a few Senators and Members of the House have expressed publicly their doubts about the credibility of the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General in their representations to Congress about the U.S. Attorneys' termination does not in any way excuse your client from answering questions honestly and to the best of her ability. Of course, we expect (as we are sure you do) your client to tell the truth in any interview or testimony. The alleged concern that she may be prosecuted for perjury by the Department of Justice for fully truthful testimony is not only an unjustified basis for invoking the privilege and without reasonable foundation in this case but also so far as we know an unwarranted aspersion against her employer.

Even with full Court-ordered immunity, a witness is required, under penalty of perjury, to tell the full truth. As we are sure the Department of Justice, in particular, would agree, it would be extremely poor public policy if a witness were permitted to be excused from testifying simply on the basis of her concern that truthful testimony would not be credited by responsible prosecutors and that she could be subject to an unwarranted perjury prosecution. Neither the Department nor the Congress could operate properly if witnesses were free to disregard their duty to provide truthful testimony on this basis. In any event, it is particularly inappropriate in this situation, where the Congress makes no prosecutorial decisions and any decision to prosecute would have to be made by the Department of Justice, which employs your client.

Update 4.4.07: Goodling's lawyer's response (TPM).

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