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Update: Ms. Goodling has some money behind her, because John M. Dowd, partner and head of the criminal litigation group at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, doesn’t come cheap. He has popped up in Iran-Contra, Resolution Trust, and investigated Pete Rose for Major League Baseball. Ms. Goodling graduated from Pat Robertson’s Regency University Law School in 1999.

The lead story at CNN [I guess they forgot about the white woman’s autopsy results]: Justice official to plead the Fifth before Senate panel

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A Justice Department official will refuse to answer questions during a Senate committee hearing on the firing of eight U.S. attorneys, citing her Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate herself, her lawyer said Monday.

In a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Monica Goodling’s lawyer said she would not testify because senators have already decided that wrongdoing occurred.

“The public record is clear that certain members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have already reached conclusions about the matter under investigation and the veracity of the testimony provided by the Justice Department to date,” John Dowd, Goodling’s lawyer, said in a letter to the committee’s chairman, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

Yo, Mr. Dowd, if the Senators didn’t feel there was a problem they wouldn’t be holding hearings and voting on sending subpoenas. They don’t just get together over a nosh in the cloakroom and say, “hey, for giggles and grins, let’s investigate the Justice Department.” A Congressional hearing isn’t a trial court, it’s closer to a grand jury investigation, without the secrecy. They want to know if something is wrong, and by standing on her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, your client has indicated that she thinks there’s a problem, and that problem is a crime.

Now, it’s possible that you are fishing for immunity for your client, but I don’t think these guys are going to bite. There are plenty of people who want to talk, that all she’s done is increase the confidence that the mess needs to be investigated, and people could be indicted at the end of the process.

I would note that I don’t know that a crime has been committed, but my reasonable suspicion is rapidly advancing toward probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, a crime beyond lying to Congress. It’s time to start thinking about proving things beyond reasonable doubt.

This is stupid to the nth degree. If they had just wanted to change US Attorneys, they could, legally. People might not have liked it, but there is nothing illegal about doing it “according to the rules and procedures.” These people seem to have a pathological hatred of rules and procedures. They lie when telling the truth would be easier. Most people grow out of this phase by the end of high school.


1 Jim { 03.26.07 at 10:30 pm }

Bryan, thank you for the shorter version of the Bush administration,

“These people seem to have a pathological hatred of rules and procedures. They lie when telling the truth would be easier.”

Or, compressing it to the irreducible minimum,

“They lie.”

2 Steve Bates { 03.27.07 at 1:37 am }

Josh Marshall points to readers who say Goodling may not be legally entitled to claim the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination based on the reasons her lawyer gives. You can’t refuse to testify just because you think the committee won’t treat you fairly, or because there are things you’d rather not say, or people you’d rather not reflect badly upon: you can only refuse if you are convinced that you yourself would be (rightly or wrongly) incriminated by your own testimony.

There is a procedure by which a court can determine whether or not an individual has a basis for taking the Fifth. Let her go to a court; let that determination be made.

Here’s an excerpt from Marshall’s reader’s comment (and here’s hoping block quotes work in comments…):

A party can request a hearing (in federal or state court) to examine whether the party invoking the Fifth has done so properly. Goodling’s attorney’s letter does not provide a valid basis for invoking the Fifth. You can’t invoke the Fifth to avoid perjury charges (or obstructing justice with the selfsame testimony). (I have the cases here, if you want them.) You can’t invoke the Fifth because you think the Committee is on a witch hunt. Etc.

There’s more; see Marshall’s original post.

3 Bryan { 03.27.07 at 9:06 am }

Thanks for the kind words, Jim. These people are like a dog chasing cars – they’ve caught the car but they don’t know what to do with it. They have winning elections down pat, but they have never put any effort into learning how to govern.

Steve, you can’t invoke to Fifth because you intend to perjure yourself. The Fifth Amendment is for crimes that exist, not crimes in potentia. If she’s not careful, she will be into the area of contempt of Congress fro refusing to appear.