sen. leahy and sen. specter write DoJ re: goodling — gonzales’ "shaping" testimony?

UPDATED: 9:32 p.m.

could it be that the below letter,
hinting at tampering with witnesses,
and hinting at perjury by alberto
gonzales — largely on the word of
ms. monica goodling — has engendered
a new DoJ document dump, aimed at further
eroding ms. goodling’s credibility

i plainly think so.


late this afternoon, senators leahy
and specter wrote the internal investigator
at the dpeartment of justice to inquire
about inconsistent statements made by
attorney general gonzales regarding whether
he discussed his testimony with anyone,
and whether, in doing so, he may have
tried to “shape” monica goodling’s testimony, after
he knew she was going to be called before
the committee to testify about the events
in question. . . do take a look:

June 5, 2007

The Honorable Glenn A. Fine
Inspector General
The Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20530-0001

Dear Inspector General Fine:

Thank you for your letter of May 30, notifying the Committee of the expansion of your investigation into issues related to the dismissals of several U.S. Attorneys. This letter followed up on your earlier letter of March 26 notifying the Committee of the joint investigation into the matter by your office and the Office of Professional Responsibility.

In your most recent letter, you notified us that you have expanded your investigation to “include allegations regarding improper political or other considerations in hiring decisions within the Department of Justice.” On May 23, Monica Goodling admitted during her testimony before the House Judiciary Committee that she “crossed the line” with respect to such considerations.

She also testified about a meeting she had with Attorney General Gonzales that made her “uncomfortable” in the days before she resigned from the Department of Justice. She testified that Mr. Gonzales recounted to her his recollection of the process leading up to and including the firing and replacement of several U.S. Attorneys. Mr. Gonzales had previously testified to this Committee that he was being careful not to speak to others involved in the replacement of US. Attorneys about those matters because he thought that inappropriate.

Ms. Goodling’s testimony prompted Congressman Davis to ask whether the Attorney General was engaged in inappropriately communicating with someone he knew was a participant in and witness to the matters under investigation in order to shape her testimony. Although you mentioned the expansion of your inquiry with respect to the consideration in hiring decisions of improper political considerations, you did not mention this incident in your recent letter. Does the expansion of your inquiry include this matter?

We look forward to your response.

the senators also released a partial
transcript of gonzales’ inconsistent
testimony — it appears in green, below
[while monica goodling’s appears in red]:

CQ Transcript Excerpt of Senate Judiciary Committee w/ Gonzales on April 19, 2007 (emphasis added) —

Sen. GRASSLEY: OK. In prior statements, you indicated that you really hadn’t been involved in any discussions or deliberations to remove the U.S. attorneys.

But e-mails indicated that you had discussions with Mr. Sampson about this in late 2004 or early 2005, and that you attended a November 2006 meeting just prior to the firings.

Mr. Sampson testified before this committee that your statements weren’t fully accurate. And your testimony today backtracks on what you said earlier.

Why is your story changing?

Can you tell us when you first got involved and the extent of your participation in the process to evaluate and replace U.S. attorneys?

And additionally, who came up with a plan to evaluate U.S. attorneys?

Alberto GONZALES: Yes, sir.

Well, the reason why my statements initially were incorrect was because I had not gone back and looked at the record.

Since then, I’ve tried to clarify it. I think Mr. Sampson, even in his testimony, said that I had clarified my statements.

The meeting — the e-mail that you’re referring to, a discussion that happened in either, I think January ’05 — as I recall, Senator, would relate to a discussion that would have happened in Christmas week — between Christmas and New Year’s and just weeks before my confirmation. And so I don’t have a recollection of that discussion, quite frankly.

But what we have tried to do since this time, since early March, is gather up as much information as we can and provide to the Congress documents and make people available so that we can get to the bottom of what happened here.

And I’m here to provide what I know, what I recall as to the truth in order to help the Congress help to complete the record. But there are clearly some things that I don’t know about what happened.

And it’s frustrating to me, as head of the department, to not know that still today. But I haven’t talked to witnesses because of the fact that I haven’t wanted to interfere with this investigation and department investigations. . .

CQ Transcript Excerpt of House Judiciary Committee Hearing w/ Goodling on May 23, 2007 —

Rep. DAVIS: When is the last time you spoke to the attorney general, Ms. Goodling?

Monica GOODLING: I spoke to him the Thursday or Friday my last full week at the department, and then I took leave the following…

DAVIS: Do you have a good memory of that conversation, Ms. Goodling?

GOODLING: I have memory of some of it.

DAVIS: Was there any part of that conversation that made you uncomfortable?


DAVIS: Would you tell the committee about it?

GOODLING: I had decided that I couldn’t continue working on his staff because of the circumstances. I felt that I was somewhat paralyzed. I just felt like I — I was distraught. And I felt that I wanted to make a transfer.

So I went back to ask him if it would be possible for me to transfer out of his office. He said that he would need to think about that. And I think he was, you know, trying to, you know, just trying to chat. I was on his staff. But he then proceeded to say, “Let me tell you what I can remember.” And he kind of — he laid out for me his general recollection of…

DAVIS: Recollection of what, Ms. Goodling?

GOODLING: Of some of the process.

DAVIS: Some of the process regarding what?

GOODLING: Some of the process regarding the replacement of the U.S. attorneys. And he — he just — he laid out a little bit of it, and then he asked me if he thought — if I had any reaction to his iteration.

And I remember thinking at that point that this was something that we were all going to have to talk about, and I didn’t know that it was — I just — I didn’t know that it was maybe appropriate for us to talk about that at that point, and so I just didn’t. As far as I can remember, I just didn’t respond.

GOODLING: And so I just didn’t. As far as I can remember, I just didn’t respond.

JACKSON-LEE: The time of the gentleman has expired. We now recognize the distinguished gentleman from Illinois, Mr. Gutierrez for five minutes.

GUTIERREZ: Thank you very much.

I would like to yield my time to Mr. Davis.

DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Gutierrez.

Had you finished your answer, Ms. Goodling, regarding your conversation with the attorney general?

GOODLING: I think there was a little bit more to the discussion, but I’m having trouble remembering it.

DAVIS: Well, let me try to help you a little bit. I know it’s been a long day, and so let me try to help you a little bit.

You said that you thought part of the conversation was inappropriate with the attorney general. Did you say that, Ms. Goodling?

GOODLING: I don’t know if I said — I didn’t know if I meant to say inappropriate. I said it made me a little uncomfortable.

DAVIS: What was it that made you uncomfortable about your conversation with the attorney general, Mr. Gonzales.

GOODLING: I just — I did not know if it was appropriate for us to both be discussing our recollections of what had happened, and I just thought maybe we shouldn’t have that conversation.

GOODLING: So I didn’t respond to what he said.

DAVIS: Why did you think it might be inappropriate for you to have this conversation with the attorney general?

GOODLING: I just knew that, at some point, we would probably all have to talk about our conversations and I just — I’m not saying that I — I’m not saying that I definitely thought it was inappropriate. I think, in all fairness, that he was just talking to someone on his staff and I was distraught and I was asking for a transfer.

And I think he was being kind. He’s a very kind man. But I just didn’t know that I thought that maybe this was a conversation that we should be having.

DAVIS: Ms. Goodling, did you tell the attorney general that you felt that part of his testimony, or part of his public statements, were not fully accurate.

GOODLING: No, I didn’t.

DAVIS: And was there a reason why you didn’t share with the attorney general that part of what he had said to the committee or the public might not be accurate?

GOODLING: I just — I feel like it — I feel like after he had the press conference, people came out fairly soon and said that they thought the statements were inaccurate. I don’t think that I needed to do that. I think that other people had already raised questions about that.

DAVIS: Do you think the attorney general appreciated that he had made statements that were not accurate?

GOODLING: I don’t know.

DAVIS: Did you ask him?

GOODLING: No, I didn’t.

DAVIS: Do you think the attorney general would have been concerned about making public statements that were not accurate?

GOODLING: I don’t know what he — I know that he testified before the Senate, and he clarified his remarks from his press conference. So I believe he cared about the fact that he didn’t express everything in the best way that he could. And I think he’s already apologized for that and tried to clarify it.

DAVIS: Let me ask you this, Ms. Goodling: During the conversation that you’ve said made you somewhat uncomfortable with the attorney general, did the attorney general discuss the circumstances around any of the terminations of the U.S. attorneys?

GOODLING: He discussed a little bit.

As I recall, he just said that he thought that everybody that was on the list was on the list for a performance-related reason, and that he had been upset with the deputy because he thought that the deputy had indicated that — by testifying about Mr. Cummins, that there was — that the only reason there was to relieve him in order to give Mr. Griffin a chance to serve.

He said that he thought, when he heard that, that that was wrong, that he really thought that Mr. Cummins was on the list because there was a performance reason there, too.

And — I think there was more to the discussion. That’s the part I’m remembering right now. But I think he just kind of laid out what he remembered and what he thought. And then he asked me if I had any reaction to it.

DAVIS: Do you know — let me ask you this way. You say the attorney general asked if you had any reaction to what he said.

Do you think, Ms. Goodling, the attorney general was trying to shape your recollection?

GOODLING: No. I think he was just asking if I had any different…

DAVIS: But it made you uncomfortable.

GOODLING: I just did not know if it was a conversation that we should be having, and so I just — just didn’t say anything.

Mr. Davis, I don’t know that I have anything to add to that point, but I do want to clarify, to the extent that at the beginning of your questioning I indicated answers based on testimony, I want to be — I want to clarify that I think that the statements you were referencing were press accounts, and I didn’t mean to indicate that…

DAVIS: Well, Ms. Goodling, if you’ve noticed, what I’ve done in my questions, I’ve consistently said either/or. I’ve referred either to public statements or to testimony. . .

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