Tuesday, April 3, 2007

There Goes the Spring Break Trip

The costs of the U.S. Attorney firings has claimed another victim: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' spring break vacation.  The father of three sons, the AG canceled a planned vacation to prepare for a hearing on the Department of Justice budget before the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 10, and then the big one before the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 17 (see AP story here).  Among the members of the Appropriations Committee is Senator Patrick Leahy, also chair of the Judiciary Committee that has been leading the investigation of the firings.  Expect at least a few questions about the terminations at the appropriations hearing.  The House Judiciary Committee is pushing forward with its interviews of DoJ officials, including (according to a Committee press release here): "Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis, Michael Battle, former Director of the Office of U.S. Attorneys, Monica Goodling, Special Counsel to the Attorney General and White House Liaison, William Mercer, U.S. Attorney for Montana and Acting Associate Attorney General, and William Moschella, Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General." 

Although Goodling, AG Gonzales' former senior counsel is listed, she will be asserting her Fifth Amendment privilege, and she is on paid leave from the Department.  A Legal Times story (on Law.Com here) discusses Goodling's background, and her prosecutorial experience consists largely of a six-month program in misdemeanor court in the Eastern District of Virginia.  It's unlikely that Congress will vote to immunize Goodling, so the basis for her assertion of the self-incrimination privilege will remain a mystery for now. (ph)

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