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Goodling: ISO 'Ideologically compatible' DOJ staff

Moderate Republicans and Democrats need not apply. That's the recurring confession of Monica Goodling's at today's House Judiciary Committee hearing into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys last year.

Goodling is openly admitting that she, at a minimum, "crossed" the line and considered political party affiliation in hiring career prosecutors in U.S. attorney offices around the country, as well as in nominating federal judges for immigration cases.

"I may have gone too far in asking political questions of applicants for career positions, and may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account," she admitted in her opening statement.

This has been a critical area because internal Justice Department rules forbid such considerations and could be a breach of federal law. This controversy has sparked an internal investigation by Justice's Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility, but could lead to a broader criminal investigation.

Under questioning from Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Goodling acknowledged she might have broken the law. Here's the exchange:

Scott: ''Do you believe they were illegal or legal?''
Goodling: ''I don't believe I intended to commit a crime."
Scott: ''Did you break the law? Is it against the law to take those considerations into account?''
Goodling: ''I believe I crossed the line, but I didn't mean to."

The internal investigation was sparked by Goodling's effort to block the hiring of a Howard University Law School graduate seeking a job as assistant U.S. attorney in the office run by Jeffrey Taylor for the District of Columbia, as reported this morning by my colleagues Dan Eggen and Carol D. Leonnig.

It's unclear, even if she actually broke the law, whether Goodling could ever be prosecuted, now that the House panel has granted her immunity in exchange for this testimony. Nothing she says today can be used against her, directly or indirectly.

Goodling has admitted that her partisan efforts at hiring went beyond just one instance, including conducting her own research on partisan work by potential hires for these assistant U.S. attorney positions. "In some cases, I may have researched these people," she said.

As far as senior leadership positions at main Justice went, Goodling told Rep. Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) that she intended to hire people who were conservatives. (Goodling is a 1999 graduate of the law school at Regent University, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, and her politics are clearly on the more conservative end of the Republican Party.)

"I really did want to ensure they were ideologically compatible," she said.

By Paul Kane  |  May 23, 2007; 1:00 PM ET
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Next: Holy war on Regent's legal credentials


Is it me or does it seem this woman was tipped off to the investigation into her hiring practices or she knew she broke the law and held out for immunity to proctect herself from the investigation she knew was coming? What exactly did she need the fifth for in her testimony related to the firings? Not telling the truth isn't covered under immunity ro did she not learn that at her law school? I would like to hear the question "who put the list together" and her answer. How can there be no contact with Karl Rove when one of his chosen one is selected to replace one of the fired USA's? And is this truly a partisan issue only in the House and not the Senate? How can there be such a disparity between how the two houses are treating this issue?

Posted by: ed barrett | May 23, 2007 1:12 PM | Report abuse

This one's the Christian, right? "Uh, well, maybe I kind of might have done something that maybe was, uh, not what ought to be done..." Reminds me of that other lying criminal, with his Bible verse taped to the microphone stand, Oliver North: "Mistakes were made."

"Let your yes mean 'yes' and your 'no' mean no." Somebody remind me, who said that again? I know it was some famous religious dude.

Posted by: M. Dooley | May 23, 2007 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Ironically, Monica would have deemed Jesus "ideologically incompatible" to work in Bush's administration. Jesus embodied everything the conservatives hate: he treated people with respect, helped the poor, and took care of the sick. I have no doubt that Pat Robertson's "law school" constantly spews out vile creatures like Monica, i.e., those who are primarily motivated by hatred and greed, wear their "Christianity" on their sleeves, and think they're "more moral" than real Christians. And Bush is hiring them in droves....

Posted by: Fernando | May 23, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

Another foolish low level loyalist taking one for the team...Seriously, does ANYONE believe that she just took it upon herself to "research these people"? Someone should directly ask her who she was taking orders from so that her religious arse has to give it up or squirm so it is obvious or lying under oath...

Posted by: whatacrock | May 23, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

"I really did want to ensure they were ideologically compatible," she said."

In other words, she aided and abetted the politization of the DOJ.

Someone on the Committee ought to tell her that, first and foremost, the DOJ needs attorneys who are intellectually honest, independent, and free to do their job without political pressure. Whether they are Dems, Reps, or whatever is irrelevant. What is relevant is their integrity.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Another foolish low level loyalist taking one for the team...Seriously, does ANYONE believe that she just took it upon herself to "research these people"? Someone should directly ask her who she was taking orders from so that her religious arse has to give it up, squirm so it is obvious or lie under oath...

Posted by: whatacrock | May 23, 2007 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Now that we have a Monica involved, when do the impeachment stirrings take root?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Aside from her blatant (and illegal) partisanship, the question remains why a graduate of a fourth rate law school with no distinguishing academic or professional accomplishments was put into the position of determining the qualifications of attorneys to work on behalf of the people of the United States?

Again, the Bush administration shows it has no concern with competence -- only loyalty to the leader. Soviet Russia had the same concern, which led to their downfall.

There must be compenent people in government. Goodling's only qualification was her misplaced ideolgical zealotry. This is another instance of the cancer which has pervaded this White House from the outset. Bring on January 2009.

Posted by: Greg | May 23, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

This is all so sad, incredibly sad. I am a woman, an attorney, a retired government employee (30 years legal and managerial work at a regional EPA office) and a practicing Catholic. While I recognize the several issues presented by the reality of a Goodling -- whether they be matters of fronting for, shielding, or simply career vs ideological political appointee -- the area most troubling to me at the deepest level is the apparent cleavage between her professed Christianity and her actions. We all make mistakes; we all sin. But, where is her conscience? Surely, she cannot fail to see the ramifications of what she seems to have done and what she seems to be doing still. I wonder what her school and her uprbringing really taught her about taking full moral responsibility for one's actions. christine

Posted by: christine p | May 23, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

"Aside from her blatant (and illegal) partisanship, the question remains why a graduate of a fourth rate law school with no distinguishing academic or professional accomplishments was put into the position of determining the qualifications of attorneys to work on behalf of the people of the United States?"

Because loyalty to the Boy King is the only thing that counts in this Administration from hell. Competence and intelligence are not encouraged. Goodling is a zealot, a perfect qualification to get a job in the Administration.

Goodling is obviously not too bright (why elsae would she have gone to a bottom-of-the-pile college and such a crappy so-called law school as Regent?).

You can tell from the way she responds to the questions. She is incapable of giving a precise and concise response. She goes on and on and on...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 23, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Good thing Senator Schumber's never taken political views into consideration when choosing HIS staff.

Posted by: adr | May 23, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Gee Fernando - you don't exactly sound like the model of love and tolerance yourself.

Posted by: ADR | May 23, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Why does it sound like every GOPer on the panel wants to sleep with Goodling? Simply disgusting.

Posted by: iammrben | May 23, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Oh the qualifiers used and how idiotic they are. Goodling says "I don't believe I intended to commit a crime."

How absurd. Either you intended to do something or you didn't. It is incredibly dishonest to pretend that one doesn't know what their own intention was. Especially for decisions of this magnitude.

This is a tactic we've heard from the AG himself when he says things along the lines of "It's my belief that I don't recall..." and other such nonsense.

Utter BS.

Posted by: corbett | May 23, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Mr Ben you are:

Yes, there seems to be a recurring theme with the conservative responce to leggy tall blondes who spew forth hard line right-wing doctrine.

Posted by: bluemeanies | May 23, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

To adr: There's a difference between the executive branch (where Gonzales and Goodling work) and the legislative branch (where Senator Schumer works.) In the executive branch, there are positions that are specifically designated "political." You can use whatever litmus test you like for those positions. Political staff ensure that the President's vision is carried out.

Of course, the Executive is also in charge of career hires. Career civil servants make sure the law is carried out to the letter--fairly, accurately and equitably, year after year, regardless of who is in power. This continuity of operations is critical if a government is to function.

Ms. Goodling was clearing career hires. Those, by law, are not to be steered to applicants according to political leanings. Denied applicants have a right to challenge the hire if they believe someone less qualified was hired. That is, provided that they know, of course. Applicants don't always know.

Senators can hire whomever they like because they make the laws. People elect a representative with the knowledge that the staff he or she hires will reflect the politics the person espouses. Continuity is not required of the legislative branch.

Posted by: slvr spring | May 23, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

John Mitchell went to jail for breaking the law to protect his President, but that was before the consistent parade of Republican loyalists made it apparent that if Attorneys General who broke the law would keep getting themselves jailed Republican Presidents might just have a real problem finding Loyal Republicans to take the job at DOJ. Ed Meese "Didn't want to break the law" but did any way. He at least had to resign. (Of course he pops up now and then to talk about Democrats who don't meet his ethical standards) After Ed, anything goes if you have been appointed by a Republican.

Come 2008, will interviewers ask all Republican Presidential Hopefuls just what standards their Cabinet officers will be held to?

Of course not. They are after all Republicans. The admit to no standards.

Posted by: Ceflynline | May 23, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse

Goodling's own weeping observation to her former supervisor, that she "just wanted to serve this president, this administration and this department," demonstrates that she was entirely unqualified to work at DOJ, since she did not even understand her oath of office, which required her to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States.

It's absolutely pathetic that someone like her rose so far within the Department of Justice.

Gonzales and the other senior leaders who promoted this philosophy need to be tossed out of office. The Department exists to uphold the law, not to serve the political ideology or goals of the sitting president.

Bring back Janet Reno.

Posted by: Janene | May 23, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

What if the vetting of career hires on a political basis pervades the CIA , FBI , NSA ? Then you get spooks that will deliver Carter's debate briefing book , and sabotage the rescue of the Iranian embassy hostages. Moles with an axe to grind. I would like to know what phones Karl Rove is listening to . Swannie

Posted by: Swannie | May 23, 2007 6:14 PM | Report abuse

Another Monica services her boss. When does the impeachment begin?

Posted by: FAIR EVE | May 23, 2007 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Republicans love pretty women with great bods, makes them feel sexy. Because fat old rich men usually aren't.

Posted by: treet | May 24, 2007 11:54 AM | Report abuse

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