spillthebeans.jpg(Shot of spilled beans via Dougalug.)

The House Judiciary Committee will be taking testimony from Monica Goodling this morning, beginning at 10:15 am ET in 2141 Rayburn.  C-Span3 and C-Span radio will be broadcasting the testimony live.  And it looks as though the committee will have some sort of webcast going as well.  I'll be liveblogging below, too.  Hang on kids, we are about to learn what, if any, beans Monica decides to spill.

While we're waiting for testimony to begin, the LATimes has an article on Ms. Goodling that is worth a read.  This is particularly noteworthy:

How a 33-year-old graduate of a little-known law school that teaches courses on the philosophy of punishing and controlling "sin" became such a powerful figure in the Justice Department is a key question for congressional investigators looking into charges that the department has been turned into a political tool of the Republican Party….

Critics say that Gonzales, by countenancing the firings, hurt the independence of the Justice Department and revealed himself to be more concerned about doing the bidding of the White House than protecting the department's credibility and integrity.

"People like Monica … were misguided and didn't get it," said H.E. "Bud" Cummins III, one of the U.S. attorneys dismissed last year. Still, Cummins said, Gonzales and other senior officials deserve the lion's share of the blame. "It is their job to stand up and say, 'No,' " he said in an interview. "There obviously was a failure, no matter whose idea this was, at the top levels of the department to assert independent judgment."…

Mark Corallo, a former Justice Department spokesman, said Goodling was trying to bring balance to the department, and he ridiculed those who criticized her for trying to screen potential hires based on their political beliefs. The civil rights division, he argued, has long been populated by "some of the most radical Democrats in the law."

He called Goodling "a real perfectionist; an incredibly energetic, good person."…

Her tenure at that office appears to have been crucial to facilitating the plan to fire U.S. attorneys. Former colleagues said that she prevailed upon the head of the office, Michael A. Battle, to replace two long-serving officials who probably would have viewed the firing of prosecutors without cause as highly suspicious, and helped install a fellow Regent law school graduate as a replacement….

Later, as both counselor to Gonzales and the White House liaison, Goodling's influence appeared to grow. Working in tandem with Sampson, she was delegated the power to hire and fire scores of political appointees at the Justice Department….

Some people close to the selection process suspect Goodling and Sampson were attempting an end-run around the commission to install a politically connected Washington insider, possibly by using a law that permitted the attorney general to appoint interim U.S. attorneys without Senate oversight.

"They were caught in the act," said the person familiar with the process. "This was frankly a warning sign that problems existed among a relatively small group … who decided they had power and authority and could do what they wanted."   

Is it too much to ask in an investigation of the politicization of the DoJ that we identify Mark Corallo completely as a GOP PR flack, who works in partnership with Barbara Comstock and has most recently been the paid, personal spokesperson for Karl Rove throughout the Fitzgerald investigation into the betrayal of Valerie Plame by her own government? Let's be honest: do you think that Karl Rove has any interest at all whatsoever in (a) spinning the public perception of things in this current investigation and (b) making Ms. Goodling feel like he is publicly on her side, all the while shoving a knife in her back when her guard is down?  Is it too much to ask that we note that for the public record in a story in which Mr. Rove is clearly implicated? 

But it is the line from fired USA Bud Cummins which really sticks in my mind here: "There obviously was a failure, no matter whose idea this was, at the top levels of the department to assert independent judgment." And that truly is the crux of the problem — the seeking of justice is not blindly following orders. A frieze of justice at the US Supreme Court shows her weighing a matter on her scales, but her eyes are firmly fixed upon the constitution. You cannot properly do your job as a prosecutor if you are fixated on politics, you simply cannot.  And the worship of following Bush Administration orders above all else — the rule of law, the constitution, the good of the whole nation — that is what has gotten all of us into this mess. With power comes the responsibility to use it wisely.  Where are the adults?


10:17 am ET

Hearing room is filling up.  Goodling is standing by the table, consulting with her attorney, and Rep. Conyers is in his seat.  Looks like we'll be beginning the hearing shortly.  Goodling looks nervous this morning (how could you not be in her place?).  Rep. Sensenbrenner is eating bits of a muffin at his seat, and several of the other members of the comittee are having little discussion nooks all over the committee area.  Noise level is still high with chatter, so it may be a couple more minutes before they get started. 

Goodling's attorney is hovering a bit behind her — definitely some concern on his face regarding his client, trying his best to comfort her with an arm pat or a small smile.  I'm wondering if it is an issue of nerves or worry over what she'll have to say in testimony and its implications  Guess we'll see…

REP. CONYERS OPENING: Begins by asking that the photographers and press clear the well — too many press for the room and blocking a view of the witness table.  Asking that they move before the hearing begins.  None of them were budging and they had to send a staffer down to herd them along and out of the way. 

Conyers now welcoming the witness and members of the committee.  Walking through the assertion of the 5th, and then the offer of use immunity for Goodling and the issuance of subpoena for her testimony and production of documents.  Going through the litany on what grant of immunity can mean and that this is not dispositive of a belief of guilt in a crime.  Conyers hoping that her testimony will encourage others, including those at the WH, to come forward and testify.  (CHS notes:  Wouldn't hold your breath on that one without issuing subpoenas.)  If we cannot trust the DoJ to impartially enforce the nation's laws, if we cannot trust that the DoJ is being used as anything but pawns in a political game, then we will have sacrificed the rule of law.

REP. SMITH OPENING:  Wondering if there was a link to Rove or Miers.  Understands that the majority staff has learned that Goodling did not have any contact with Rove or Miers — Smith says he doesn't share their disappointment.  Questions about the differing degrees of proof on whether dismissal was for performance or other reasons have fueled these questions.  If we and our investigators see that the question of politicization have no legs, we don't seem to stop but try to graft on fresh legs to keep it moving forward.  We have not reached any final conclusions and should not until we know all the relevent facts.

10:35 am ET

Conyers now going through introductions and instructions for counsel.  Goodling just answered a question and for those of you wondering, it is a high-ish voice.  (CHS notes:  Not that there is anything wrong with that, having a high-ish voice myself.)  Conyers now mentioning that they have yet to receive documents pursuant to subpoena — it appears that Dowd brought them with them to the committee today and has now turned them over, at least the balance of them at this point, after consulting with House Judiciary counsel and with the DoJ prior to disclosure.

Goodling been sworn in under oath.

REP. CONYERS QUESTIONS:  Who put the USAs on the list to be fired?  Goodling is claiming the fifth and sixth.  Conyers now communicating the order for use immunity via DC Circuit, being placed in the record.  Goodling told that so long as testimony and information provided is given freely and truthfully, that the immunity will stand — but failure to be honest or fully truthful could result in perjury or obstruction or other charges being filed, should that be deemed appropriate.  You may confer with counsel as needed to follow the order.  Use immunity procedure has been completed, and her testimony will now be compelled.

MONICA GOODLING STATEMENT:  Conyers says that they will include her written statement in the record.  Copies are being distributed to members of the committee.  Making a briefer verbal statement.

Wishes to set the record straight regarding the allegation that she withheld information from the DAG for committee testimony to the Senate Judiciary.  Says that her work simply fell short — believes that the Deputy was not fully candid about his decisions, poins finger at DAG's role on Griffen selection.  Talking about the assembly of information for future private briefing session.  Goodling says that she went to this briefing with him — but just prior to hearing, DAG suggested that if members of the committee recognized her as the WH liaison, they would be more likely to ask questions about the WH.  She was asked to return to DoJ.  She said that she was not the primary liaison with the WH — the AG and Kyle Sampson attended those meetings.  "To the best of my knowldge, I have never spoken with Karl Rove or Harriet Miers while working at the DoJ."  Did speak with their staffs.  Never recommended to any of these folks that specific USAs be added to the list or removed.

First learned that senior officials to her were discussing possibility of replacing some USAs in mid-2005.  First saw list of replacements in Jan. 2006, when Sampson showed her memo he had prepared for Miers.  Goodling said she recommended Bogden and Charlton be added, but that they were not added until much later, presumably because of some other recommendation beyond hers (due to timing, she implies).  Not aware with anyone in the DoJ adding the names of fired attorneys to interfere with any particular case.  Finally, talking about her role in hiring and firing for career positions.  Walking through her substantial responsibilities on this — says she tried to act in good faith, and staffed with well-qualified individuals who supported the AGs policies and goals.  Nevertheless, I may have gone too far in asking questions about applicants political involvement and I may have inappropriately injected politics into hiring decisions.  And I regret that.

Now going through her desire to serve the public and how much working for the DoJ meant to her.  Has no desire to say anything negative about the people that she worked with, but I am here to be a fact witness to what she saw, heard or knows, and is prepared to answer to the best of her ability.

Am going to start a new thread.

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