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Alberto Gonzales Testimony, Part VIII

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NOTE:  I need to run and pick up The Peanut from preschool in a little while.  I will pause the hearing on my DVR and resume when I get back.  Just wanted to give everyone a heads up on this.  Mr. ReddHedd is, unfortunately, stuck in a meeting and unless he gets out early, I'll have to go around 4:30 pm ET and will be back as quickly as I can.

SEN. CARDIN QUESTIONS: Asks about Goodling's role.  AG says that he doesn't know about her role specifically, knows that she was involved in preparation of testimony after the fact.  She was involved in communicating with the WH and other individuals.  Don't want to minimize her role, but I wasn't primarily relying on her — was relying primarily on Deputy AG.  Cardin says that he has spoken with the AG about voter intimidation — issues like long lines for voting, etc., and he mentions that because there seems to be a growing activity to cause problems for minority voters across the country in certain neighborhoods.  You have indicated that voter fraud was a problem, and I didn't see any indication that there was emphasis on voter intimidation.  AG says that he appreciates the right to vote — having grown up in a poor neighborhood, the one day you knew you were equal was on election day.  Stealing someone's vote is not right.  Cardin recommends that the AG take a look at the Obama bill pending at the moment.  Every eligible vote needs to count. 

10 minute recess.

(jh taking over for chs) 

WHITEHOUSE:   Former USA Whitehouse is concerned that the DOJ be separate from the White House, and Abu concurs.  He gives him letters that outline guidelines for contact between the White House and the DOJ in civil and criminal matters from Janet Reno, and also from the Bush Administration.  Three people from the DOJ  and  four in the White House during the Clinton era could participate in these discussions, narrowing the portal for communications, an important safeguard to keep these discussions from becoming politicized.  Under the Bush Administration there were 417 in the White House who could have 30 some from the DOJ.

Leahy says "I find the chart astounding."

Whitehouse wants to have a report from the Office of Inspector General on the matter.  He wants to know why it was referred to OPR by Abu, since OPR never makes a public report and does not evaluate whether they subject themselves to political pressure and simply evaluates them as lawyers, but none of them were acting as lawyers in the matter.

Gonzales doesn't recall making a decision to refer it to OPR knowing that there would only be a private report to him.

SCHUMER:   You've answered "I don't know" or "I don't recall" to close to 100 questions.  Urges Gonzales for the good of the department and for the good of the country to step down.

Gonzales says the burden of proof is on those alleging something improper happened here.

Schumer:  That would be true if this were a criminal trial, but we have a much higher standard for the Attorney General. And when you fire US attorneys, the burden is on you to explain why.  The burden of proof lays with the person who took responsibility and did the firing. 

SPECTER:   Inevitably there is a loss of credibilty. He thinks Abu's answers are crap but says Gonzales is doing it in good faith.  Also agrees that further questioning is not going to lead anywhere.  "Overblown personnel matter" — poor choice of words, can't be erased.  Moral problem in the DOJ.  Won't call for Gonzales to resign, leaves it to Abu and the President.  (Ladies and Gentlemen, Profile in Courage, Arlen Specter.)

Specter does it every single time — expresses "grave concern," sets himself up as the conscience of the Committee, the Republican who's going to cross party lines to act on principle — then uses the authority to give everyone a pass.  Lindsey Graham works the same side of the street.   It's a cheap con artist trick, not the act of the great statesman Specter likes to think he is.

LEAHY:  I cannot think of any time I have been more concerned for the system of criminal justice in this counry.

Adjourned. 

(One heckler heard afterwards:  "Seventy-four times, 'I don't recall.'  How did he get through law school?") 

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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