Thursday, April 26, 2007
The House Judiciary Committee voted 32-6 to authorize a request to the U.S. District Court for an order of use immunity for Monica Goodling, the former senior adviser to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, to permit her to testify about the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys. Unlike Gonzales' chief of staff, Kyle Sampson, who testified before the Committee, Goodling's lawyer sent a letter to the Committee that she would assert the Fifth Amendment in response to a subpoena. Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers made a statement (here) explaining the reason why the Committee decided to proceed with an immunity order, even though it does not appear that Goodling has indicated what she will say in her testimony by way of a proffer:
[Goodling] was apparently involved in crucial discussions over a two-year period with senior White House aides, and with other senior Justice officials, in which the termination list was developed, refined, and finalized. She was also in the small group of senior Justice lawyers who prepared Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty and his Principal Associate, William Moschella, for congressional testimony that we believe inaccurately portrayed the surrounding circumstances.
So Ms. Goodling appears to be a key witness for us, as to any possible undue or improper interference, and as to any internal discussions as to how forthcoming to be to Congress. But she has notified the Committee that she would invoke her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination were she called to testify. And I don’t think at this point that all of her potential grounds for invoking the privilege can be dismissed out of hand.
The procedure for obtaining immunity for a witness in a Congressional proceeding is governed by 18 U.S.C. Sec. 6005(b), which provides:
(b) Before issuing an order under subsection (a) of this section, a United States district court shall find that—(1) in the case of a proceeding before or ancillary to either House of Congress, the request for such an order has been approved by an affirmative vote of a majority of the Members present of that House;(2) in the case of a proceeding before or ancillary to a committee or a subcommittee of either House of Congress or a joint committee of both Houses, the request for such an order has been approved by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of the full committee; and