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Did Monica Goodling Have Something to Hide, and If So, Why Won't Gonzales Protect Her?

Back in March, I blogged about all of the speculation around the blogosphere about Monica Goodling's decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment when subpoenaed by the Senate to testify regarding her involvement in the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys. General consensus was that while Goodling may have had practical reasons for invoking the Fifth (e.g., avoiding a Scooter Libby predicament), she had no legal basis for doing so unless she herself had committed a crime.

Well, now Goodling has been granted limited immunity, thus clearing the way for her to testify about the terminations. But apparently, Goodling did have some reason to worry about her own actions: According to this weekend's New York Times story (5/12/07) Goodling engaged in questionable hiring practices of her own, such as quizzing applicants for civil service jobs at the DOJ about their favorite president and Supreme Court justice -- and even inquiring of one applicant whether he'd cheated on his wife. In the Times article, H.E. Cummins III, one of the fired prosecutors commented:

She was inexperienced, way too naïve and a little overzealous,” said Mr. Cummins, a Republican from Arkansas. “She might have somehow figured that what she was doing was the right thing. But a more experienced person would understand you don’t help the party by trying to put political people in there. You put the best people you can find in there.

At Talk Left Jeralyn Merritt asks:

So, where does this leave Ms. Goodling? In the position of Queen for a Day...she gets to tell everything bad she ever did with no personal, criminal repercussions.

I disagree. Though perhaps there'll be no criminal consequences for Goodling (though her hiring practices are not covered by the immunity grant, as I understand), from what I can tell, Goodling's career as an attorney is over. From what's coming out now Goodling looks like a fool who made blatantly foolish mistakes, in large part because she simply lacked experience and wasn't given appropriate guidance from her superior. And now, rather than take responsibility for Goodling's mistakes, Gonzales is hanging her out to dry. Far from being Queen for a Day, Goodling is a sacrificial lamb for the cause of Gonzales keeping his job. 

The Code of Professional Responsibility counsels experienced lawyers to offer guidance and training to subordinates. Gonzales failed on that count. And to me, that's far worse than improperly firing eight U.S. Attorneys -- because no matter how this winds up, they're experienced enough to fend for themselves. Goodling never had a chance.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on May 14, 2007 at 05:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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