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Monica Goodling's Immaculate Conception

May 23, 2007

In her testimony today before the House Judiciary Committee, former DOJ White House liaison Monica Goodling joined Alberto Gonzales, Kyle Sampson and Paul McNulty in disclaiming any role in the creation of the infamous list of U.S. attorneys to be fired. It should comes as no surprise that the graduate of Regent University law school would have us believe the list so central to the prosecutors purge appeared magically, untouched by the hands of man. Call it Immaculate Conception.
Goodling Wednesday consistently rejected any notion that she helped create the evolving list of USAs to be targeted or played any major role in the addition or subtraction of prosecutors. She claimed that she has "never had a conversation" with Harriet Miers and Karl Rove, though she acknowledged receiving emails (perhaps like these). Despite her own admissions that she suggest removing South Carolina's Wagner from the list, and was aware of discussions surrounding the inclusion of others (Cummins, Iglesias, Lam, Bogden), Goodling put the onus on former Gonzales chief-of-staff Kyle Sampson. While she acknowledged seeing the list in January, September and the conclusive November 27, 2006 meeting, she pointed the finger at Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and Sampson.
Unfortunately, Sampson during own testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 29th claimed repeatedly that he was only "the keeper of the list." He told Senator Feinstein (D-CA) that "It was based on an aggregation of input that came into me, and then I added people to the list." Sampson also contradicted Attorney General Gonzales' March statements that he had played no role in the discussions over the fired attorneys, declaring "I don't think it's accurate." Sampson also told Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY):

"I remember that he [Gonzales] asked me to make sure that I was consulting with the Deputy Attorney General [Paul McNulty], and that he agreed with the list of U.S. attorneys who should -- who we might consider asking to resign. And he also asked that I be sure to coordinate with the White House."

Gonzales, of course, continues to flip-flop over both his own role in the firings and the part played by the outgoing Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Paul McNulty. In his March 6th USA Today op-ed declaring the sackings "an overblown personnel matter," Gonzales painted himself as the decider, "While I am grateful for the public service of these seven U.S. attorneys, they simply lost my confidence." But just five weeks later in his April 15th Washington Post op-ed, Gonzales backtracked, "During those conversations, to my knowledge, I did not make decisions about who should or should not be asked to resign."
Which brings us to Paul McNulty. Last week, Gonzales took advantage of McNulty's resignation to blame the DAG for all that came to pass in the prosecutors purge. "At the end of the day," Gonzales claimed on May 15th, "the recommendations reflected the views of the deputy attorney general. He signed off on the names." Gonzales continued the blame game, stating:

"The one person I would care about would be the views of the deputy attorney general, because the deputy attorney general is the direct supervisor of the United States attorneys."

Sadly, that's not what Attorney General Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee while under oath on April 19th. At that time, that is to say, before McNulty announced his resignation, Gonzales claimed his deputy AG had virtually no role in the process that led to the firings. "Looking back," Gonzales asked and answered, "things that I would have done differently? I think I would have had the deputy attorney general more involved, directly involved."
McNulty, of course, opted to resign on May 15th precisely because Sampson and Goodling hung him out to dry during his February 6th testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Sampson and Goodling, to whom Gonzales by order earlier handed hiring and firing authority, failed to provide McNulty with all the background prior to his testimony on the purge. While Goodling today disputed McNulty's claim that she and Sampson had misled him - or worse, it is clear that the deputy attorney general did produce the list of those U.S. attorneys.
Which raises the question? Who is responsible for putting those eight names on the list? Who created, if you will, the Eight Commandments?
As Monica Goodling will tell you, the mission of Regent University law school is to bring the will of the Almighty to the law. But when it comes to the ultimate paternity of the purged prosecutors list, the Almighty resides not in Heaven, but in the White House.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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