Partisanship, Who Needs It?

Partisanship, Who Needs It?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The 5th and The Truth

The NYT reports on Monica Goodling's resignation


Democrats had hoped that Ms. Goodling would provide details about the role of Karl Rove, the chief political adviser to President Bush, in the firings of the prosecutors. After refusing to testify, she also declined a Democratic invitation to answer questions in a private interview.

“Attorney General Gonzales’s hold on the department gets more tenuous each day,” Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York and a member of the judiciary panel, said this afternoon. He has been among the most persistent critics of Mr. Gonzales.


Maybe it was the pressure she didn't want to deal with, maybe she was hiding something, or maybe it was the asking of whether she would also take the Fifth regarding the internal Justice Department investigation.

Remember the comment of Jonathan Turley, a professor at George Washington Law School:

"It's a very clever question, because if she does not invoke the Fifth [for the internal Justice Department investigation], then she obviously has a fundamental contradiction in her legal position. She would basically be saying that despite having a high-ranking position in the Justice Department, she will not cooperate with a coequal branch... Congress has oversight responsibiilty over the Justice Department, over Monica Goodling. It would be an obvious contradiction with her job description."

Maybe that's why this has never happened before. "I believe she might be the first sitting Justice Department official in history to invoke the Fifth." Normally, he said, "the price of invoking the Fifth in this context would have been to end her career in government service."

That seems the most likely to me, but it could well be either of the other two individually or in conjunction with this third reason. One thing is certain, and that is finding out her version of events will likely prove more difficult if not impossible. As long as she is on firm legal ground I can't fault her for taking the 5th, it is her undeniable right, it just doesn't help the image of the department, or the American people's trust in our justice system.

Unfortunately, if she is innocent of wrongdoing there could well be a temptation of anyone who did act improperly to blame it on her, a price I guess she is prepared to pay. They say the Truth will set you free", but in the case of politics that seems not to apply according to Goodling's lawyer, I'm not convinced.

I still think that if her testimony becomes needed, the Congress should offer her immunity and ask her to testify, she could still refuse but her motives would become even more suspect if she did.

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