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
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