Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is testifying today before the House Judiciary Committee. The committee website is streaming video and C-Span3 is broadcasting it as well. During liveblogging, please stay on topic in the comments, and please try to hold yourself back from extraneous comments where possible to be kind to our servers. Thanks!
REP. NADLER QUESTIONS: Discussion of Goodling potentially using a political litmus test for hiring career employees, how that is a violation of the Hatch Act — and Gonzales agrees that this is a very serious matter. If most people do not believe that you are not telling the trugh about all of this, how can they trust how the DoJ is performing its duties? AG says he doesn't believe that people mistrust him on this. If it is true, as you testified that you didn't have much involvement in this process in a hands on manner, how can we beleive that you really know what is going on in the DoJ? Gonzales says that he thinks he was justified in relying on underlings to do this job, but in hindsight he might rely on underlings in a different way. Nadler now gets into the National Security Letter issue — AG says that NSL's are indespensible. Nadler says that isn't the point — if they are properly used, they can be useful, but why are you using them improperly? Why is there no process for destroying information wrongly collected on innocent Americans? AG says that they failed to use the NSLs in a responsible manner and that they are taking steps to ensure that this doesn't happen again.
REP. COBLE QUESTIONS: Talking about intellectual property laws, using stolen IP as a means to fund nefarious enterprises, and how we can prevent counterfeiting and IP crimes here and around the world. The AG is now taking about the different kinds of counterfeiting: drugs, music, movies, etc., etc. These are very complicated cases. (CHS notes: operation change the subject and show how the AG's busy job makes him lie is up and running. Gee, worked so well for Libby…) Coble says that he really appreciates the AG talking about this. Have you implemented any process that is new in how you deal with dismissal of USAs since all of this has come to light? AG says he would use a more formal process. USAs want to be told if there are issues with their performance, and to give them an opportunity to address those issues before being fired. (CHS notes: well…duh!) But we all serve at the pleasure of the President, AG says, so no formal process. But he'll try to actually talk with the USAs instead of just kicking them out on their ass with no notice as to why.
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REP. BOBBY SCOTT: Starts with need to enforce laws on domestic prostitution, and employment discrimination in Head Start based on religion. AG says that the Administration speaks with one voice, so he'll have to check with someone else as to what he should say about this (CHS notes: because, you know, legal requirements be damned, there are political ramifications with evangelical voters to consider here). Did the WH ask you to seek the removal of any USAtty. AG says that he has a recollection that Mr. Rove raised concerns about voter fraud prosecutions in three districts. Has been told that the President talked to him about one as well. Conceivable that in meetings with people at the WH that someone might have mentioned something, but he doesn't recall anything specifically. Rep. Scott says that over the last 25 years, only 10 USAs were riffed (other than at the beginning of an Administration with the normal political turnover) and that all of those forlks were removed for scandal or for cause. AG not sure what he is talking about with the CRS investigation on this. (CHS notes: Anyone have a link on this CRS study of the issue?) Do you recall any USAttys who were contacted about political pressure/voter fraud questions who were then not fired? AG says he'd have to go back and look at that. Scott talks about Yang having been on the list by Miers, AG doesn't recall her being on a list for Ms. Miers, says that Yang had financial problems that went into this question.
REP. GALLEGLY QUESTIONS: We're now talking about making the nation as safe as possible as relating to a potential terrorist attack. Talking about the Ft. Dix arrestees with two of them having been "illegal aliens" who had been repeatedly stopped for traffic violations but were still here. Discusses eerie similarity to Mohammad Atta. AG says some jurisdictions are better about this than others, and it being a question of resources in some jurisdictions not being available. Says he isn't in the habit of reading the WaPo, but this was an article that said bad things about immigrants so he read this particular "illegal alien absconder" article. What are you doing about this scary scourge of illegal immigrants who have flouted deportation orders? AG again goes back to resources and lack of space in prisons for holding these people. This is why the President is supporting comprehensive immigration legislation that is workable. Gallegly doesn't seem cheered by that response. Now asks about illegal aliens as drug smugglers and traffickers. AG says they are working on it in terms of finding more prison bed space. Gallegly says that the laws aren't the problem that the willingness to enforce the laws is the problem here.
REP. LOFGREN QUESTIONS: Begins talking about FBI name checks — have pending 300,000 plus names, with 155,000 of those name checks pending for more that 6 months. You need to look into this. Then gets into the question of getting rid of Graves as being related to particular prosecution on a voter fraud case. Didn't Mr. Schlotzman pursue a case close to an election in contravention of the DoJ's own internal regs on not bringing these cases close to an election so as not to skew the outcome. Gonzales says the civil rights division chief stands by the case, and Lofgren points out that Schlozman works at the civil rights division currently and has been accused by career people of politicizing that section. Asks for response in writing to that.
REP. LUNGREN QUESTIONS:Lungren walking through the "ooooh, you have a big job that requires you to monitor a lot of employees" line of defense, and goes on to say that it's a horrible thing when one's employees let you down in not doing their job as well as they might have. (CHS notes: Anyone else wondering if the discredit Sampson tactic may be because they fear something that Sampson knows but may not have yet shared?) Should voter fraud be investigated for dead people still on the rolls? AG says that it is the law and that they have an obligation to investigate true voter fraud cases. (CHS notes: Yes, they do. Ann Coulter, anyone?) And now we are walking through the "pleasure of the President" discussion again. Says no one at the WH directly asked him to fire anyone because of a politically sensitive investigation that was ongoing.
Recess for votes onthe floor of the House. Will resume immediately after voting has concluded.