Thursday, May 24, 2007

Goodling Points the Finger at McNulty

Monica Goodling's testimony before the House Judiciary Committee began with a clear shot at Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty, who said that his testimony in February 2007 about the firing of eight U.S. Attorney's was not completely accurate because Goodling (among others) withheld information from him.  In her prepared testimony (here), Goodling fired back: "I do not agree with  the Deputy [Attorney General]'s allegation that I failed to brief him adequately.  Nor do I agree with the substance of his testimony in all respects."  While not asserted in so many words, Goodling's testimony raises the question whether McNulty, who recently announced that he would resign from the Department of Justice to pursue private employment, committed perjury when he testified.  McNulty issued a statement in response asserting that "Ms. Goodling's characterization of my testimony is wrong and not supported by the extensive record of documents and testimony already provided to Congress."  Does it sound like everyone is telling the truth here?

On another front, Goodling sought to defend her conduct despite admitting that she used political criteria in the selection of Assistant U.S. Attorneys, which violates federal law. She wrote, "In a very small number of cases, I believe that my decisions may have been influenced in part by political considerations.  I regret this mistake."  In response to a question by Representative Bobby Scott about whether it is against the law to take political considerations into account in hiring career prosecutors, Goodling responded, "I believe I crossed the line, but I didn't mean to."  This isn't the "honest-but-ignorant civil servant" defense, but more the "I-didn't-really-want-to-do-anything-wrong" defense, which wouldn't carry much weight with seasoned prosecutors.  By granting Goodling immunity, however, Congress made it quite difficult to prosecute her for the violation, which she didn't quite admit anyway.  On the other hand, it may be difficult for her to land a position in law enforcement any time soon.  An AP story (here) discusses the testimony. (ph)

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/whitecollarcrime_blog/2007/05/goodling_points.html

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