The President is "Sorry It's Come to This"

President Bush told White House journalists yesterday that he is "genuinely concerned" about the reputations of the eight fired U.S. Attorneys but that there is "no credible evidence of any wrongdoing" in their dismissals. "I'm sorry it's come to this," Bush said in front of the television cameras and no doubt he is. I would be sorry, too, if I were president and I had an attorney general and a Justice Department that was unable or unwilling to do right by the rules and the truth.

The Washington Times this morning has an interesting piece that advances the story of the scandal involving the dismissal last year of the federal prosecutors. Jon Ward writes: "House Republicans don't believe that the Justice Department did anything illegal by firing eight federal prosecutors last year, but they also don't believe that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales is telling the truth about why the attorneys were dismissed. Several House Republicans are scoffing at Justice Department assertions that a principal reason for several of the dismissals was that the lawyers were not aggressively prosecuting immigration violations." Ward continues: "An aide to House Republican leadership agreed that the Justice Department's explanation for the firings is hard to believe. 'I don't think Republicans buy that,' said the aide."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post this morning reports upon a new wave of conflict between Congress and Monica Goodling, the now-on-paid leave Justice Department official who is refusing to testify about her role in the scandal. Goodling said a few days ago through her attorney that she would invoke her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called to testify. The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, however, sent a letter to Goodling and Company asking that she submit to a voluntary interview. Her attorney responded, the Post reports, by saying this: "Threats of public humiliations for exercising her Fifth and Sixth amendment rights are not well taken and are frowned upon by the courts and the bar committee on ethics." Yikes.

And the legendary Rick Serrano at the Los Angeles Times offers this fascinating tidbit this morning: "In a related development, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent a letter to Gonzales asking how he planned to deal with Goodling's decision to invoke her 5th Amendment rights. He had agreed to allow his top aides to be questioned about the firings. 'Who do we talk to at the Department of Justice?' the senators asked. 'The office of the attorney general appears to be hopelessly conflicted.' The Justice Department had no immediate response."

The scandal isn't on the front burner right now. It's simmering. But as the above stories suggest it won't take much to get the story roiling again.

By Andrew Cohen |  April 4, 2007; 7:59 AM ET agag
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Comments

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Bush believes that he knows right from wrong and he sticks to his positions. When he makes his pronouncements he fails to offer convincing analyses or weighty arguments in support of them. Even though he faces a tirade of opposition and ridicule he does not seem to recognise the weaknesses in his many positions. I do not know what his principles or standards are on any issue. He is characterising the dismissal as being proper because he has a legal right to hire and fire. However, good government requires a separation of powers and a scrutiny of the Administration by the Congress. I want Congress to see if senior officials, like Gonzales and Bush, have lied to Congress and US citizens. I want to know why the Prosecutors were sacked. Was it because of incompetence or because Bush wanted to use them to abuse Democrats and protect Republicans and Big Business? These issues warrant examination no matter what Bush says.

Posted by: Robert James | April 4, 2007 09:23 AM

Send Goodling to Gitmo!

Posted by: H5N1 | April 4, 2007 09:33 AM

Where are the watchdogs regarding the emails being sent from non-governmental sites such as the NRC and others we read about? Mention is made of this, but it doesn't appear anyone is going after them. While the president can claim executive privilege on official White House communications, should that extend to non-governmental sites as well. Why not issue a subpeona to the NRC for all related memos and emails sent to or referring to the fired attorneys by White House officials. This should be a treasure trove.

Posted by: Jim Ruen | April 4, 2007 10:22 AM

A possibly related development, sure to please conspiracy theorists. (And who isn't one?):

http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/politics/cunningham/20070402-1839-ca-congressmanbribery.html

SAN DIEGO - A lawyer for a defense contractor accused of bribing a congressman and committing fraud with a top CIA official said Monday that he would seek dismissal of the charges because details of the investigation were leaked to news organizations.

Attorney Mark Geragos said he believed the information was leaked to pressure Justice Department officials in Washington into approving criminal charges sought by prosecutors in San Diego against defense contractor Brent Wilkes and his best friend Kyle "Dusty" Foggo.

"I believe these indictments were used to create a kind of pole-axing of main Justice," Geragos told U.S. District Judge Larry Burns.

Geragos, who represents Wilkes, cited speculation that the abrupt dismissal of San Diego's top federal prosecutor, Carol Lam, was connected to her office's investigation of Wilkes and Foggo.

Indictments were returned against Wilkes and Foggo Feb. 13, two days before Lam left office.

Posted by: Texican | April 4, 2007 12:26 PM

A question for Andrew about Monica Goodling:

If things came to really hard hardball, is it correct that she can still be subpoenaed to appear before the Committee? If so, can she invoke a blanket 5th Amendment right and refuse to answer any questions at all, or would she have to invoke it on a question-by-question basis?

If the latter, I'd think the Committee could use her patterns of invocation to explore the nature of what she's afraid might tend to incriminate her.

Posted by: Texican again | April 4, 2007 12:49 PM

It should come as no suprise , Afterall the 2000 Election was not won by populat vote and the false andmisleading of the WOMD in Iraq that has resulted inthe spilling of human bood and destruction and looting og historical articats and buildings thast can never be replaced. Those who dare whine now is just as responsilbe as the people they are blaming now. It's strange that the Wrold was told if Arafat and Sadam was ou tof the way all the problmes would dissapear and people bought into this . Instad of whinning and pointing to the current results of historical corruption at all levels , It's more productve and positive to focuse on solutions to fix and plux those loopholes and redesing a society that values all humanbeings, transforming the thinking will result in a safer Wrold for everyone.Why did the news wait unitl james Brown pasesed away to expose the corruption in the system that falsely labled him, Why was it not printed when the events took place?

Posted by: Citizen | April 4, 2007 12:54 PM


>If things came to really hard hardball

Oops, I should have read the letter first:

"In addition, of course, the Fifth Amendment privilege, under long-standing Supreme Court precedents, does not provide a reason to fail to appear to testify; the privilege must be invoked by the witness on a question-by-question basis."

Posted by: Texican | April 4, 2007 12:55 PM

i just love that construct *no credible evidence* that the lying gop coughs up in their pathetic attempts to minimize their criminality.

uh, that's the purpose of these hearings ** to bring to light all the dirty deeds bushco has been engaged in these past six years.

Posted by: linda | April 4, 2007 01:24 PM

If you do not want to testify because it might incriminate you - you have just done exactly that my dear girl!

Posted by: lynn parker | April 4, 2007 03:59 PM

BUSH FORGETS HE IS PREZ FOR ANOTHER FEW
YEARS AND HE TOO WILL BE OUT A JOB.

HE CAN KEEP CLEARING BRUSH AND CHOPPING WOOD.

HE'S LUCKY HE CAN DO THAT, HE'S NOT MUCH GOOD FOR ANYTHING ELSE

Posted by: SYDELLE ZABOW | April 4, 2007 04:00 PM

Bush should be "genuinely concerned" not about the reputations of the eight fired attorneys but about the reputations of those that remain. It is they who are tainted with the "loyal Bushies" odor.

Posted by: Ted Johnson | April 4, 2007 04:23 PM

This is wonderful. Bush is bull headed enough to let us pick on this every day. We can keep this ball in the air for weeks with daily disclosures of steps taken to use the U.S. Attorneys for political purposes. In the weeks ahead expect some of the remaining Attorneys to come forward with instances of political pressure on them. Goodling,s 5th position will be good for thousands of articles all over the country. Keep it up.

Posted by: c. perry | April 4, 2007 05:07 PM

THATS RIGHT, BASH BUSH LIKE YOU DEMOCRATS DO. ITS OKAY THAT CLINTON FIRED 93 ATTOURNEYS AT ONE TIME, BUT LET BUSH DO IT AND YOU ARE ALL OVER HIM. WHAT A DISGRACE YOU LIBERALS ARE. BUT, ALAS, YOU WILL BE RID OF HIM IN A MATTER OF MONTHS NOW, THEN YOU WILL HAVE FRED THOMPSON AND HE IS MORE CONSERVATIVE THAN BUSH.I IMAGINE ALL THE DEMS. WILL CRY ALL THE WAY TO FLORIDA THEN CAUSE THOMPSON WILL WHIP MS. HILLARY A NEW ONE AND ALL OF YOU KNOW IT. I AM LAUGHING..

Posted by: BRUCE IN N.C. | April 4, 2007 05:17 PM

No, the GOP tends to gain from placing extreme partisans in the U.S. Attorneys.

They are in place so that they can overthrow the 2008 election by charging, of all things, election fraud. Yeah the BushCo thugs who committed fraud in 2000 and 2004 will charge that Hispanic votes in Nevada, Colorado, and So. California have been cast by illegal aliens. there will be no support for the charges except a few "confessions" by Hispanic plants. And what about Arkansas and the apparent Democratic
front runner Hillary Clinton? She will be faced with allegations from her days as Arkansas first lady. Yep, "Swift Boating" will reoccur.

Posted by: tanaS | April 4, 2007 07:00 PM

bush is all set declare marshel law before the o8 election so no election

Posted by: homerwill77 | April 4, 2007 09:28 PM

Boy Bruce, you're really stupid. All Presidents can fire US Attorneys at any time, period. Most presidents do so when they first enter office, especially if the previous president was from the opposite party. However, and I HOPE you'd agree with this, it's politically, and morally reprehensible for them to be fired because they happen be bringing indictments against GOP politicians(Foggio, Cunningham), or refusing to bring prosecution against Dems right before an election( Iglesias).
Gonzales, and the DOJ has been LYING about the reasons for the firings, because they know that , even though it might not be illegal, it LOOKS(and in fact IS) CORRUPT!
BTW, using caps ALL the time doesnt make you seem smart, it makes you look immature.

Posted by: jimbobuddy | April 5, 2007 04:00 AM

It seems wherever you look today, accounting for Iraq spending, corruption by public officials, appointments of political hacks to key government positions, compromised justice ... who is running this mad house? I am sleepless in Iowa thinking we have a collective of thugs in command now.

Posted by: Thomas Simon | April 5, 2007 08:08 AM

Jim Ruen said Where are the watchdogs regarding the emails being sent from non-governmental sites such as the NRC and others we read about? Mention is made of this, but it doesn't appear anyone is going after them.

Waxman has requested these emails, and suggested that, perhaps, the RNC had better not destroy them instead.

Posted by: wvng | April 5, 2007 12:57 PM

If Goodling is invoking her 5th ammendment rights, isn't she saying that a crime (or crimes) was committed? You can only take the 5th in a criminal matter, you can't use it to avoid embarassing yourself or your co-workers/bosses.

Posted by: Wondering | April 5, 2007 03:40 PM

I love the comparisons with Clinton. But this is not about what he did. This is about Bush and his cronies. Why the comparison with McCarthy, who was a Republican? President Bush started a war that has cost tens of thousands of lives. He is reponsible for torture, for suspension of civil liberties, for enriching his business friends, and so much more. The only thing he can be truely afraid of is impeachment. I think that is coming. After all, President Clinton only lied about acts of a sextual nature with a consenting adult. President Bush has been capable of much more evil.
AG Gonzalez showcases the abuses by this administration and with other evidence, may lead to impeachment.

Posted by: sander3997 | April 5, 2007 04:23 PM

Monica Goodling is a government employee.Although she is on a leave of absence she is still employed and yet she refuses to answer questions from the government that employs her.How surreal is this? I think she should be a) fired and b)called to testify.The fired attorneys certainly didn't have the courtesy shown them which Monica is enjoying.Give someone else her desk and paycheck for a start. I personally don't want my tax dollars even paying for her office heat frankly.

Posted by: sharon | April 5, 2007 05:51 PM

When Monica and Alberto, the upholders of justice, come before Congress will they plead the 5th from the beginning or will they assist the Senators who are seeking to understand how the DOJ is run?

What should these public officers see as the fundamental principles governing this case?

What duty do they owe the People?

Posted by: Robert James | April 5, 2007 06:20 PM

Yeah, I*ll bet the prez is sorry. - Sorry that this whole sordid mess came to light in the press to expose the Machiavellain intention to pack the justice system with ideologues and showing them sending a reminder to the ones who don*t get fired that they better tow the line or else. Sorry indeed. He'll be sorrier when Gonzales gets picked apart in the hearing.

Posted by: odin966 | April 6, 2007 12:56 AM

I think Robert hits the nail on the head--I have no idea what the "governing principles" of anyone in this administration are.

Personal responsibility? No.
Rule of law? No.
Fiscal Conservatism? No.
Small Government? No.
Respect for Civil Liberties? No.
Resisting foreign adventurism? No.
Adhering to Constitutional oaths? Not that one either.

Posted by: JP2 | April 6, 2007 07:35 AM

Waterboarding has been approved! It's a no-brainer for anyone caught mixing cronyism and government. For people like The Fredo Bandito, the Geneva Convention is quaint. Forget about the fired attorneys, I want to know what those other attorneys did who didn't get fired!

Posted by: Mel Carnahan vs Bush Mafia | April 6, 2007 01:56 PM

I still just have to wonder why the excuse for this and so many issues in this White House (Pre-war intel, Katrina, Rove in the Plame affair, so on and so fourth) and Bush's response is always "no laws were broken (Libby excluded, but he still won't admit to that)." Great, it may have been completely unethical, improper, incredibly stupid, incompetent, inefficient, unfair, etc., but at least we're technically not in violation of the laws, at least as we read them. Great, I sleep so much better at night. Way to restore honor and decency to the White House.

Posted by: Michael | April 6, 2007 08:31 PM

The only law broken by Libby (at least to our knowlege) was that of perjury. That said, however, it is utterly reprehensible the lack of integrity, and accountability that has always been put forth by this administration. Absolutely disgusting.

Posted by: Chris, Malmo, Sweden | April 6, 2007 10:34 PM

Pow-Powell, Tanker Condi, Goonzoltus are hired house slaves. What suckers Americans are. Not one of these spineless stupudos is worth keeping. Did you hear that Wolfowitz's girl friend had been hired in a top post at the world Bank and she knows dickSquat about banking and at over $200,000 to start. Top that off she is now adviser to Condi--more like tells her what to do and keeps a leash on her.
Bottom line--Goodgooseling and Goonzooltus are just fixtures--used by the backroom Juice boys.
Recall Bush'el of Sh!t,was arrested for drunk'en driving and rape a young black girl and after 3 hrs filing charges she was found dead.Yah! and Goonzooolotus was Bush's attorney.
America is such a sick abortion.

Posted by: genrikh yagoda | April 7, 2007 08:56 AM

"House Republicans don't believe that the Justice Department did anything illegal by firing eight federal prosecutors last year . . ." NOTHING ILLEGAL !!!!! How about OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE. There were four federal attorneys pursuing corruption charges against Republicans out of the 93 in the DOJ . . . AND ALL FOUR GOT FIRED !!!!

Posted by: | April 7, 2007 03:24 PM

Were the fired attorney's phones tapped?

Posted by: Bill MacLeod | April 11, 2007 12:23 AM

Were ALL the attorney's phones tapped and just the *loyal bushies* kept on?

Posted by: Bill MacLeod | April 11, 2007 12:34 AM

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